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Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus

Related threads:
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comhaltas examinations [discussamicably] (27)
Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas? (93)
comhaltas fireside sessions (2)
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Jim Carroll 15 Mar 08 - 01:26 PM
Shaneo 15 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 15 Mar 08 - 01:50 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Mar 08 - 06:02 PM
Declan 15 Mar 08 - 09:18 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 08 - 04:30 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Mar 08 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 16 Mar 08 - 08:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Mar 08 - 09:37 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 08 - 02:23 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Mar 08 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 20 Mar 08 - 10:01 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 21 Mar 08 - 06:10 AM
redsnapper 21 Mar 08 - 07:14 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 11:52 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 12:02 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 21 Mar 08 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,guest maggie boyle 21 Mar 08 - 08:55 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 21 Mar 08 - 11:23 PM
Gulliver 22 Mar 08 - 12:40 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 04:33 AM
Folkiedave 22 Mar 08 - 05:37 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 22 Mar 08 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Learaí na Láibe 22 Mar 08 - 08:44 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 22 Mar 08 - 10:40 AM
Big Mick 22 Mar 08 - 10:58 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 02:20 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,the button 22 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM
Big Mick 22 Mar 08 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,redsnapper 22 Mar 08 - 05:26 PM
Barry Finn 22 Mar 08 - 10:47 PM
GUEST,doc.tom 23 Mar 08 - 07:29 AM
MARINER 24 Mar 08 - 06:16 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 08 - 03:12 AM
Barry Finn 25 Mar 08 - 03:29 AM
Richard Bridge 25 Mar 08 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 25 Mar 08 - 07:52 AM
Bryn Pugh 25 Mar 08 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,aine in dublin 25 Mar 08 - 12:25 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 12:36 PM
Barry Finn 25 Mar 08 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Highkingoftara 25 Mar 08 - 12:57 PM
Big Mick 25 Mar 08 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Don Meade 25 Mar 08 - 01:55 PM
the button 25 Mar 08 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Concerned tina 25 Mar 08 - 02:02 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 02:22 PM
ard mhacha 25 Mar 08 - 02:28 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Don Meade 25 Mar 08 - 03:12 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 03:21 PM
the button 25 Mar 08 - 03:39 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 03:41 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM
the button 25 Mar 08 - 04:00 PM
kevink 25 Mar 08 - 05:22 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 08 - 05:23 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 05:29 PM
Big Mick 25 Mar 08 - 05:38 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 25 Mar 08 - 06:15 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,sparkles 25 Mar 08 - 10:50 PM
michaelr 25 Mar 08 - 11:42 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 08 - 04:15 AM
ard mhacha 26 Mar 08 - 05:34 AM
Breandán 26 Mar 08 - 05:59 AM
Big Mick 26 Mar 08 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 26 Mar 08 - 12:04 PM
ard mhacha 26 Mar 08 - 02:31 PM
Big Mick 26 Mar 08 - 02:45 PM
michaelr 26 Mar 08 - 03:16 PM
ard mhacha 26 Mar 08 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Aine in dublin 26 Mar 08 - 03:33 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Mar 08 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,maggie boyle 26 Mar 08 - 03:44 PM
Big Mick 26 Mar 08 - 03:44 PM
ard mhacha 26 Mar 08 - 03:47 PM
ard mhacha 26 Mar 08 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,Diarmaid 26 Mar 08 - 10:50 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Mar 08 - 03:51 AM
ard mhacha 27 Mar 08 - 06:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Mar 08 - 06:58 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Mar 08 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,sparkles 27 Mar 08 - 08:37 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Mar 08 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 27 Mar 08 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,neutral 'i think' party 27 Mar 08 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,PJ 27 Mar 08 - 11:23 AM
ard mhacha 27 Mar 08 - 01:15 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 27 Mar 08 - 01:19 PM
Folkiedave 27 Mar 08 - 01:44 PM
Gulliver 27 Mar 08 - 03:05 PM
ard mhacha 27 Mar 08 - 03:28 PM
Declan 27 Mar 08 - 03:38 PM
Big Mick 27 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM
Breandán 27 Mar 08 - 04:17 PM
Breandán 27 Mar 08 - 04:44 PM
ard mhacha 27 Mar 08 - 04:49 PM
GUEST,MRS FLANNERY- 27 Mar 08 - 05:04 PM
Gulliver 27 Mar 08 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,MRS FLANNERY- 27 Mar 08 - 05:56 PM
Big Mick 27 Mar 08 - 05:58 PM
ard mhacha 27 Mar 08 - 06:07 PM
Snuffy 27 Mar 08 - 06:22 PM
Breandán 27 Mar 08 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,sparkles 27 Mar 08 - 07:38 PM
Declan 27 Mar 08 - 08:57 PM
Big Mick 27 Mar 08 - 08:59 PM
Barry Finn 27 Mar 08 - 09:07 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Mar 08 - 03:19 AM
ard mhacha 28 Mar 08 - 05:25 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,Guest 28 Mar 08 - 08:33 AM
Big Mick 28 Mar 08 - 09:24 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Mar 08 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Observer 28 Mar 08 - 10:02 AM
ard mhacha 28 Mar 08 - 10:06 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Mar 08 - 10:21 AM
Breandán 28 Mar 08 - 11:45 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Mar 08 - 12:07 PM
Breandán 28 Mar 08 - 12:23 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 28 Mar 08 - 12:32 PM
Breandán 28 Mar 08 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,trad 28 Mar 08 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,trad 28 Mar 08 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,Sean Murphy 28 Mar 08 - 07:35 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Mar 08 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,PJ 29 Mar 08 - 05:34 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Mar 08 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Learaí na Láibe 29 Mar 08 - 07:42 AM
Breandán 29 Mar 08 - 02:56 PM
Jim Carroll 29 Mar 08 - 03:50 PM
MARINER 29 Mar 08 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,Sean Murphy 29 Mar 08 - 05:08 PM
GUEST 29 Mar 08 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,maggie boyle 29 Mar 08 - 11:16 PM
Barry Finn 30 Mar 08 - 12:38 AM
Declan 30 Mar 08 - 06:06 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Mar 08 - 06:39 AM
Breandán 30 Mar 08 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 30 Mar 08 - 10:53 AM
GUEST,kevink 30 Mar 08 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,kevink 30 Mar 08 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,maggie boyle 30 Mar 08 - 06:58 PM
Breandán 30 Mar 08 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Sean Murphy 30 Mar 08 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Frances 30 Mar 08 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Sean Murphy 30 Mar 08 - 07:43 PM
Declan 30 Mar 08 - 07:46 PM
Jim Carroll 31 Mar 08 - 03:28 AM
ard mhacha 31 Mar 08 - 05:53 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 31 Mar 08 - 07:22 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 31 Mar 08 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,dubsman 31 Mar 08 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,fursey 31 Mar 08 - 08:29 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 31 Mar 08 - 08:45 AM
ard mhacha 31 Mar 08 - 09:02 AM
Big Mick 31 Mar 08 - 10:59 AM
Gulliver 31 Mar 08 - 11:08 AM
Breandán 31 Mar 08 - 02:00 PM
ard mhacha 31 Mar 08 - 02:01 PM
Fergie 31 Mar 08 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,jimmartin81 31 Mar 08 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Sean Murphy 01 Apr 08 - 07:27 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 08:23 AM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 08:24 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 08:44 AM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,PJ 01 Apr 08 - 09:44 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 09:53 AM
knight_high 01 Apr 08 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,goofy 01 Apr 08 - 12:05 PM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 01:39 PM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,fursey 01 Apr 08 - 01:53 PM
GUEST,PJ 01 Apr 08 - 02:21 PM
Big Mick 01 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Apr 08 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,Frances 01 Apr 08 - 02:43 PM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 02:59 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 03:02 PM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 03:08 PM
Declan 01 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM
ard mhacha 01 Apr 08 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,knight_high 01 Apr 08 - 06:51 PM
Breandán 01 Apr 08 - 07:07 PM
GUEST,knight_high 01 Apr 08 - 07:47 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 01 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM
Declan 01 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,maggie boyle 01 Apr 08 - 08:09 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Apr 08 - 02:58 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 02 Apr 08 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Observer 02 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,maggie boyle 02 Apr 08 - 09:34 AM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 12:15 PM
Big Mick 02 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 12:37 PM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 08 - 01:11 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Frances 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,fursey 02 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Apr 08 - 02:35 PM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 08 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,the white rabbit 02 Apr 08 - 04:15 PM
ard mhacha 02 Apr 08 - 05:02 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,caitlín 02 Apr 08 - 06:30 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 06:47 PM
domo 02 Apr 08 - 06:58 PM
Breandán 02 Apr 08 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,caitlín 02 Apr 08 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,piaras 02 Apr 08 - 07:17 PM
Nerd 03 Apr 08 - 01:38 AM
knight_high 03 Apr 08 - 04:18 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Apr 08 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,caitlín 03 Apr 08 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Geek 03 Apr 08 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,caitlín 03 Apr 08 - 10:18 AM
Nerd 03 Apr 08 - 11:54 AM
knight_high 03 Apr 08 - 11:57 AM
ard mhacha 03 Apr 08 - 01:57 PM
Howard Jones 03 Apr 08 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,caitlín 03 Apr 08 - 02:10 PM
Breandán 03 Apr 08 - 02:37 PM
Declan 03 Apr 08 - 03:03 PM
The Sandman 03 Apr 08 - 04:24 PM
knight_high 03 Apr 08 - 04:43 PM
Nerd 03 Apr 08 - 05:53 PM
Breandán 03 Apr 08 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Philip 03 Apr 08 - 06:24 PM
Howard Jones 03 Apr 08 - 06:54 PM
Breandán 03 Apr 08 - 06:54 PM
magb 03 Apr 08 - 07:27 PM
Declan 03 Apr 08 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Diarmaid 03 Apr 08 - 10:28 PM
Nerd 03 Apr 08 - 10:46 PM
Declan 04 Apr 08 - 02:44 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Apr 08 - 03:23 AM
ard mhacha 04 Apr 08 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 04 Apr 08 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Sparkles 04 Apr 08 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 04 Apr 08 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 04 Apr 08 - 06:51 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 04 Apr 08 - 07:03 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 04 Apr 08 - 07:14 AM
Breandán 04 Apr 08 - 07:33 AM
The Sandman 04 Apr 08 - 08:05 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor, member "Reel Clontarf" 04 Apr 08 - 10:13 AM
knight_high 04 Apr 08 - 10:47 AM
Breandán 04 Apr 08 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 04 Apr 08 - 11:52 AM
Breandán 04 Apr 08 - 12:18 PM
Big Mick 04 Apr 08 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,MRS FLANNERY- 04 Apr 08 - 06:09 PM
The Sandman 04 Apr 08 - 06:22 PM
The Sandman 04 Apr 08 - 06:35 PM
knight_high 04 Apr 08 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,OLD -TIMER 04 Apr 08 - 06:47 PM
The Sandman 04 Apr 08 - 06:48 PM
knight_high 04 Apr 08 - 06:49 PM
Frank_Finn 04 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM
Breandán 04 Apr 08 - 07:39 PM
GUEST,Guest Mr. P 04 Apr 08 - 07:49 PM
Declan 04 Apr 08 - 08:41 PM
Big Mick 04 Apr 08 - 11:47 PM
Nerd 05 Apr 08 - 02:15 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Apr 08 - 04:00 AM
The Sandman 05 Apr 08 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 05 Apr 08 - 07:34 AM
Gulliver 05 Apr 08 - 10:52 AM
Declan 05 Apr 08 - 12:12 PM
The Sandman 05 Apr 08 - 01:42 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Apr 08 - 03:21 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 06 Apr 08 - 03:55 AM
The Sandman 06 Apr 08 - 05:44 AM
Declan 06 Apr 08 - 08:07 AM
The Sandman 06 Apr 08 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 06 Apr 08 - 04:21 PM
GUEST 06 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM
Nerd 06 Apr 08 - 08:50 PM
Gulliver 07 Apr 08 - 11:25 AM
Gulliver 07 Apr 08 - 11:56 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 08 - 12:20 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 08 - 12:21 PM
The Sandman 07 Apr 08 - 12:27 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Apr 08 - 12:29 PM
Gulliver 07 Apr 08 - 01:08 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Apr 08 - 02:33 PM
The Sandman 07 Apr 08 - 02:40 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 08 - 02:17 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 08 Apr 08 - 04:29 AM
The Sandman 08 Apr 08 - 12:08 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 08 - 02:46 PM
The Sandman 09 Apr 08 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,PJ 09 Apr 08 - 07:29 AM
The Sandman 09 Apr 08 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Winger 09 Apr 08 - 04:25 PM
Nerd 09 Apr 08 - 11:17 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Apr 08 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,Fiddle ruairi 10 Apr 08 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,Fiddle ruairi 10 Apr 08 - 05:36 AM
The Sandman 10 Apr 08 - 06:34 AM
Breandán 10 Apr 08 - 05:05 PM
GUEST,fiddleruairi 10 Apr 08 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Diarmaid 10 Apr 08 - 07:29 PM
Gulliver 10 Apr 08 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,Eileen 11 Apr 08 - 04:27 AM
The Sandman 11 Apr 08 - 07:33 AM
Breandán 11 Apr 08 - 08:26 AM
Breandán 11 Apr 08 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Tommy 12 Apr 08 - 04:12 AM
The Sandman 12 Apr 08 - 12:57 PM
Breandán 12 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM
dílis 12 Apr 08 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,the white rabbit 12 Apr 08 - 10:21 PM
Declan 13 Apr 08 - 06:11 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Apr 08 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Nerd 13 Apr 08 - 03:15 PM
knight_high 13 Apr 08 - 03:17 PM
dílis 13 Apr 08 - 06:25 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 08 - 03:09 AM
The Sandman 14 Apr 08 - 03:44 AM
GUEST,Bemused 14 Apr 08 - 08:51 AM
The Sandman 14 Apr 08 - 09:48 AM
knight_high 14 Apr 08 - 10:41 AM
GUEST 14 Apr 08 - 09:01 PM
GUEST,Eileen 15 Apr 08 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,Glasnost 15 Apr 08 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,Declan 15 Apr 08 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,Emmo 16 Apr 08 - 05:03 PM
Gulliver 16 Apr 08 - 10:38 PM
Barry Finn 16 Apr 08 - 11:16 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Apr 08 - 02:40 AM
The Sandman 17 Apr 08 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,Kiero 18 Apr 08 - 04:56 AM
GUEST,London (found this on a Google Search!!) 18 Apr 08 - 10:15 PM
Gulliver 19 Apr 08 - 09:13 PM
knight_high 29 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 29 Apr 08 - 01:54 PM
George Henderson 30 Apr 08 - 01:50 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Apr 08 - 01:59 PM
dílis 01 May 08 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,Danno 02 May 08 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Bronco 02 May 08 - 09:03 AM
MARINER 02 May 08 - 07:30 PM
knight_high 03 May 08 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh 04 May 08 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh 04 May 08 - 03:12 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 04 May 08 - 03:33 PM
The Sandman 04 May 08 - 06:02 PM
Barry Finn 04 May 08 - 06:21 PM
magb 04 May 08 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,George Hendeson 06 May 08 - 04:18 AM
GUEST,Tyrone 06 May 08 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 06 May 08 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Dublin2 06 May 08 - 10:12 AM
Frug 06 May 08 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Dublin2 06 May 08 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,Guest North Dublin 07 May 08 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,Dublin2 07 May 08 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,GUEST North Dublin 08 May 08 - 08:07 AM
magb 08 May 08 - 09:24 PM
GUEST,North Dublin 09 May 08 - 05:24 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 09 May 08 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 12 May 08 - 04:35 AM
knight_high 12 May 08 - 07:37 AM
GUEST 12 May 08 - 07:59 AM
dílis 12 May 08 - 08:10 AM
knight_high 12 May 08 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 13 May 08 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 14 May 08 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Fiddle ruairi 14 May 08 - 03:20 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 08 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Frank 15 May 08 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Fiddleruairi 15 May 08 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,aine 17 May 08 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 03:52 AM
GUEST 18 May 08 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,caitlín 18 May 08 - 07:41 AM
The Sandman 18 May 08 - 08:19 AM
Barry Finn 18 May 08 - 10:24 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 18 May 08 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,East of Dublin 27 May 08 - 10:33 AM
Jim Carroll 27 May 08 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,Guest-North Dublin 27 May 08 - 03:59 PM
knight_high 27 May 08 - 07:06 PM
knight_high 27 May 08 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 28 May 08 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,South of Dublin 28 May 08 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Guest - North Dublin 28 May 08 - 07:19 PM
knight_high 28 May 08 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,Mary 28 May 08 - 07:32 PM
GUEST,South of Dublin 28 May 08 - 09:55 PM
GUEST,caitlín 29 May 08 - 02:42 AM
Jim Carroll 29 May 08 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,michj 29 May 08 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,thedublin 29 May 08 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,thedublin 29 May 08 - 07:58 AM
GUEST,South of Dublin 29 May 08 - 03:00 PM
GUEST,thedublin 29 May 08 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,shaskeen 29 May 08 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,sos 30 May 08 - 06:21 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 May 08 - 08:18 AM
GUEST 30 May 08 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Guest - Áine 30 May 08 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,Guest - Brian 30 May 08 - 01:57 PM
bytheway 31 May 08 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Cluain Tarbh 31 May 08 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Cluain Tarbh 05 Jun 08 - 05:25 PM
Gulliver 06 Jun 08 - 07:58 AM
dílis 07 Jun 08 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Cluain Tarbh 08 Jun 08 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Stringman 11 Jun 08 - 07:28 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 11 Jun 08 - 09:27 AM
The Sandman 11 Jun 08 - 10:32 AM
Nerd 11 Jun 08 - 01:51 PM
Declan 11 Jun 08 - 02:09 PM
Barry Finn 11 Jun 08 - 06:56 PM
Nerd 12 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM
Barry Finn 13 Jun 08 - 01:44 AM
Nerd 13 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 02:28 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 13 Jun 08 - 05:00 AM
The Sandman 13 Jun 08 - 05:46 AM
Gulliver 13 Jun 08 - 09:51 AM
Nerd 13 Jun 08 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Stringman 13 Jun 08 - 05:59 PM
Nerd 13 Jun 08 - 10:14 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 13 Jun 08 - 11:07 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM
The Sandman 14 Jun 08 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,Castle kelly 15 Jun 08 - 05:03 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jun 08 - 09:31 AM
knight_high 16 Jun 08 - 03:06 PM
The Sandman 16 Jun 08 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Guest-North Dublin 16 Jun 08 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,Emmo 16 Jun 08 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,caitlín 16 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM
Nerd 16 Jun 08 - 08:03 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jun 08 - 02:13 AM
GUEST,Cathal 17 Jun 08 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Frank F. 17 Jun 08 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Fiddleruairi 17 Jun 08 - 09:18 AM
Declan 17 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,Fiddleruairi 17 Jun 08 - 07:17 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Jun 08 - 02:34 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Jun 08 - 04:36 PM
The Sandman 18 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM
Nerd 18 Jun 08 - 07:31 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Jun 08 - 01:53 AM
Nerd 19 Jun 08 - 03:39 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Jun 08 - 03:28 PM
Nerd 20 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,Observer 20 Jun 08 - 08:23 PM
knight_high 20 Jun 08 - 08:45 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jun 08 - 04:02 AM
Gulliver 21 Jun 08 - 12:05 PM
The Sandman 21 Jun 08 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,PJ 21 Jun 08 - 01:47 PM
GUEST 21 Jun 08 - 01:50 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jun 08 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,Cluain Tarbh 29 Jun 08 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 11 Jul 08 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Guest - Micheál 11 Jul 08 - 06:59 PM
GUEST 12 Jul 08 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 14 Jul 08 - 04:21 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Jul 08 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 15 Jul 08 - 04:56 AM
oggie 15 Jul 08 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 21 Aug 08 - 06:52 AM
knight_high 21 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM
GUEST 26 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM
Effsee 26 Aug 08 - 10:25 PM
GUEST 27 Aug 08 - 08:04 PM
Effsee 27 Aug 08 - 10:25 PM
Rowan 28 Aug 08 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM
GUEST 28 Aug 08 - 07:08 PM
Effsee 28 Aug 08 - 09:41 PM
Gulliver 29 Aug 08 - 08:57 AM
Barry Finn 29 Aug 08 - 02:05 PM
GUEST 30 Aug 08 - 05:07 PM
Effsee 30 Aug 08 - 09:22 PM
Effsee 30 Aug 08 - 09:40 PM
Nerd 31 Aug 08 - 01:17 AM
Nerd 31 Aug 08 - 01:27 AM
Gulliver 31 Aug 08 - 10:19 PM
Effsee 31 Aug 08 - 10:45 PM
Gulliver 31 Aug 08 - 11:07 PM
GUEST 01 Sep 08 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 05 Sep 08 - 04:33 AM
Nerd 06 Sep 08 - 02:40 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 06 Sep 08 - 04:37 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 06 Sep 08 - 05:24 AM
Leadfingers 06 Sep 08 - 12:55 PM
Leadfingers 06 Sep 08 - 12:55 PM
Gulliver 06 Sep 08 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 08 Sep 08 - 05:00 AM
GUEST 05 Nov 08 - 08:17 PM
knight_high 07 Nov 08 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Guest 07 Nov 08 - 08:33 PM
GUEST 10 Nov 08 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 17 Nov 08 - 07:03 AM
The Sandman 17 Nov 08 - 07:51 AM
Declan 17 Nov 08 - 07:44 PM
knight_high 18 Nov 08 - 08:37 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 18 Nov 08 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Eileen O'Connor 19 Nov 08 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,GUEST 22 Nov 08 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 24 Nov 08 - 10:22 PM
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Subject: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 01:26 PM

Does anybody have any information on what is happening in Clontarf regarding the world's most expensive traditional music venue (€11,000,000)?
It would appear that the leadership of CCE has taken over the premises which was built with money raised by the local branch, and has expelled the branch in order to finalise the dirty deed.
Any Comhaltas members out there?
Any details.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Shaneo
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM

Was supposed to open this week, not all the money was raised local, A grant from the Irish government through the arts council which in turn pased through Ceoltas.
The Clontarf branch wanted to run the centre themselves and decide what brand of the arts could be promoted there.
Ceoltas have a very strict policy [view] on what constitutes ''traditional Irish''
This is not the first time a local branch and ceoltas had a falling out as C.C.E can be very dogged.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 01:50 PM

Jim, can you fill us in a bit more? What (or rather which) dirty deed?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 06:02 PM

Bonnie,
On the national news - interminably.
Local branch at Clontarf raised $11,000,000 to open centre.
Comhaltas has expelled branch and taken over centre.
More later
Jim


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Declan
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 09:18 PM

Don't know a lot about the internal Comhaltas politics here.

But I have attended a number of annual fund raisers for this centre. I know that a lot of the organisational work (and the performances at the benefit gigs) have been done by members and friends of Craobh Chluain Tarbh.

The Clontarf branch have always been, to my mind one of the least Comhaltas-like branches of the organisation - and as far as I am concerned that is a major compliment. I would hate to see all the effort that has gone into the completion of this centre ending up in another venue for the conservative wing of Comhaltas. A centre run by the Clontarf branch would almost certainly be much more to my liking.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 04:30 AM

Declan and Bonnie,
Couldn't agree more - this is pretty much the feeling being expressed here in the Wild West (Clare).
The story, as we have it at present, is as follows:
The Clontarf members raised a phenomenal sum to build a music centre, mainly from Arts Council grants.
When the work was completed they were told that, as they were registered as a charity, they were entitled to tax rebates of an unspecified, but very large sum, which they applied for and received.
There was some doubt raised regarding the validity of the rebate so, to be on the safe side (in the present climate of fraud investigation tribunals etc here in Ireland), they returned the cheque until the matter could be clarified.
President Labhrás ó Murchú, (known affectionately here as 'Larry-The Lab Rat') ballisticated, claiming that ALL money raised by branches which was not needed for local organisation, automatically belonged to Head Office.
He (his decision alone - that's the way Comhaltas democracy works apparently) has expelled the branch and turned them out of the premises they built. The building, technically, now belongs to CCE and those who built it have no access to it; nor do they have anywhere to hold planned events for tomorrows St Pats Day.
The first we heard of it was a very long radio phone-in programme on Wednesday (on which CCE head office refused to produce a spokesman).
That, as far as I know, is how things stand at present.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 05:03 AM

Have the locals any legal recourse? Google - even if you narrow the search to Irish web pages only - is astonishingly reticent on this subject. I couldn't find anything up to date except a brief mention in a couple of fora similar to Mudcat. No proper news that I could see, prompting temptations to paranoia.

Ah, the guiding hand of Labhrás Ó Murchú. Now why am I not surprised?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 08:36 AM

Jim Carroll.

€11,000,000 or $11,000,000?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 09:37 AM

What are they going to do with their valuable Belgrave Square premises? Sell it to property developers? When you consider the prices in Dublin, just imagine what that must be worth. Then they can move into the Clontarf centre and let the rest of 'em eat cake.

You can bet HQ's lawyers went through everything with a fine-tooth comb before this move ever went public.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Mar 08 - 02:23 PM

Jim,
11 million.
Bonnie,
As Lab Rat has so far avoided making a statement, there is no indication of his intentions whatever.
You may remember his expelling the West London Branch for refusing to donate to a political fund back in the 70s.
My friend Paddy Boyle (Maggie's father) was one of the cmbatants at the time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 07:26 PM

Word on the grapevine has it that Comhaltas has dissolved the Clontarf branch (with name-blackening into the bargain). This link has more info:

http://www.cluaintarbh.net/index.htm

Can the membership not call for an E.G.M. and pass a vote of No Confidence, or something?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 20 Mar 08 - 10:01 PM

There was much talk on the Joe Duffy Show (RTE Radio1) this afternoon, including interviews with members, apparently the Clontarf branch hadn't received the formal letter of dissolution from HQ & yet Joe Duffy had a copy in his mits!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 06:10 AM

Yes, they've been very underhand about the whole thing. There will be rules in place concerning members calling an Extraordinary General Meeting to challenge this action (which the branch only learned of for the first time when they heard it on the radio) - but if there IS no branch, they can't. And Murph the Lab Rat is a political animal with colleagues in high places.

http://electionsireland.org/candidate.cfm?ID=4131

In case that link goes bye-bye (see boldface passages in particular):

        •        The Cluain Tarbh (Clontarf) branch of Comhaltas is one of the biggest and most significant branches of Comhaltas in the world with over 400 members.
        •        For the past 15 years Cluain Tarbh has been the prime mover in the development of CLASAC - the magnificent new Centre for the Traditional Arts on Dublin's Northside.
        •        The branch ran a myriad of fund raising events, secured the site from Dublin City Council and successfully negotiated significant public funding for the centre.
        •        The Branch worked in partnership with Comhaltas HQ both on the development of the 2004 Comhaltas Development Plan in which CLASAC was a flagship project.
        •        However, in recent months, there has been a determined effort by Comhaltas HQ to take over the Centre and to exclude the Branch.
        •        False accusations have been made against the branch and every avenue to answer these has been closed off.
        •        The Branch was suspended from Comhaltas by the Dublin Co Board acting on instructions from the HQ. The manner of the suspension was contrary to the Comhaltas constitution. There was no right of appeal, no due process and no natural justice. A request to be heard distributed to delegates to the Co Board is here.
        •        Comhaltas issued a directive to the branch to transfer a VAT refund relating specifically to Clasac to the HQ account.
        •        The branch sought expert advice on this matter. The advice received was that such a transfer would be illegal and would put individual branch members at risk of substantial sanctions from Revenue.
        •        The branch unwilling to break the law and to expose indivdual members to potentially large liabilities returned the refund to Revenue. Revenue have confirmed the validity of the branch action.
        •        Comhaltas HQ dissolved the branch because it did not comply with a directive which would have broken the law of the land.
        •        Dissolution means that the assets built up by the current members can be seized by Comhaltas HQ. This means that the current members lose the money that they paid for classes, the musical instruments that they bought for use in the branch instrument loan scheme and all other assets.

        •        Absurdly, but consistent with the comtempt shown to the branch up to now, Comhaltas did not write to the branch to confirm the dissolution but instead wrote to RTE Radio personality Joe Duffy who was able to inform branch members on his show of 20th March that the branch had been dissolved six days earlier.
        •        There has been an attempt to 'reconstitute' the branch with an unelected and unrepresentative exceutive committee acting in concert with Comhaltas HQ.

        •        A meeting of the branch on 19th March unanimously rejected this attempt to undermine the branch, expressed confidence in the current executive and asked it to continue running the branch activities.
        •        The resolution which emerged from the meeting is available here [downloadable Word document].


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: redsnapper
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 07:14 AM

Following this with interest as I was also a member of West London Comhaltas in the 70s and remember Senator ó Murchú.

RS


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Subject: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 11:52 AM

I am putting this up under another heading, as it seems largely to have escaped the attention of those interested in traditional Irish music, democracy, or simply fair play
For the uninitiated, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the leading, most influential and wealthiest organisation representing Irish (or any other Traditional) music throughout the world. It has a reported 400 + branches and is run by an annually elected body which is presided over by an appointed director general, Labhras (pro. Lowros) Ó Murchú (Larry Murphy). In spite of its apparently democratic structure, in reality Ó Murchú runs the organisation pretty much like a private company, taking all major decisions on its behalf. He is also a State Senator, which gives him access to Government decisions on cultural matters (and the state purse in relation to grants).
In general, the branches do magnificent work, organising local session and running classes (though IMO this latter is somewhat spoiled by the fact that the pupils are scholled to be entered into competitions).
In 1979, the West London Branch   of CCE ran foul of the leadership by refusing to participate in a political fundraising event (on the basis that the branch was made up of members of all religious, political and national affiliations). The branch was subsequently expelled.
More recently the Clontarf Brach in Dublin raised over €11.000,000 to build what is claimed to be the worlds most expensive traditional music centre. I heard a little of the events following this on the radio last week, but received this, this morning.

"The Dissolution of Cluain Tarbh CCE - a Guide For The Perplexed.

The Cluain Tarbh (Clontarf) branch of Comhaltas is one of the biggest and most significant branches of Comhaltas in the world with over 400 members.
For the past 15 years Cluain Tarbh has been the prime mover in the development of CLASAC - the magnificent new Centre for the Traditional Arts on Dublin's Northside.
The branch ran a myriad of fund raising events, secured the site from Dublin City Council and successfully negotiated significant public funding for the centre.
The Branch worked in partnership with Comhaltas HQ both on the development of the 2004 Comhaltas Development Plan in which CLASAC was a flagship project.
However, in recent months, there has been a determined effort by Comhaltas HQ to take over the Centre and to exclude the Branch.
False accusations have been made against the branch and every avenue to answer these has been closed off.
The Branch was suspended from Comhaltas by the Dublin Co Board acting on instructions from the HQ. The manner of the suspension was contrary to the Comhaltas constitution. There was no right of appeal, no due process and no natural justice. A request to be heard distributed to delegates to the Co Board is here.
Comhaltas issued a directive to the branch to transfer a VAT refund relating specifically to Clasac to the HQ account.
The branch sought expert advice on this matter. The advice received was that such a transfer would be illegal and would put individual branch members at risk of substantial sanctions from Revenue.
The branch unwilling to break the law and to expose individual members to potentially large liabilities returned the refund to Revenue. Revenue have confirmed the validity of the branch action.
Comhaltas HQ dissolved the branch because it did not comply with a directive which would have broken the law of the land.
Dissolution means that the assets built up by the current members can be seized by Comhaltas HQ. This means that the current members lose the money that they paid for classes, the musical instruments that they bought for use in the branch instrument loan scheme and all other assets.
Absurdly, but consistent with the contempt shown to the branch up to now, Comhaltas did not write to the branch to confirm the dissolution but instead wrote to RTE Radio personality Joe Duffy who was able to inform branch members on his show of 20th March that the branch had been dissolved six days earlier.
There has been an attempt to 'reconstitute' the branch with an unelected and unrepresentative executive committee acting in concert with Comhaltas HQ.
A meeting of the branch on 19th March unanimously rejected this attempt to undermine the branch, expressed confidence in the current executive and asked it to continue running the branch activities.
The resolution which emerged from the meeting is available here."

Will happily pass on any references or further information to anybody interested.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 12:02 PM

Sorry Bonnie,
Didn't see this and posted in on another thread (see Comhaltas Interruptus)
Outraged from Miltown Malbay (Jim Carroll)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 01:31 PM

If you Google "Comhaltas" and "Clontarf" - as people are likely to do - this Mudcat thread comes up third in the line of hits (fifth on Irish Google) so it's bound to attract some attention. [I just Freudianly typed CONhaltas above...] The web link we have both quoted from is further down, not even sure where, so this at least makes it more prominent.

I wonder if the Mudcat clones would please combine our two threads, deleting one of the duplicated paste-ins? Google is perhaps a reason to keep this thread because it brings the two search terms together sooner on the page and seems to get a higher listing; or maybe we could ask them to re-title this thread "Comhaltas ousts Clontarf" or something which makes it even clearer! Assorted parties are bound to be net-surfing about this (including Them, no doubt). What do you think, Jim?


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Subject: RE: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,guest maggie boyle
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 08:55 PM

Hello Jim...
You will of course know that this surprises me not one bit. For other mudcatters I will state that I, along with most of my family, was amongst the hundred or so members who were so unceremoniously and wrongly ejected by the comhaltas executive in 1979 - for insisting on operating within the constitutional rules.
A certain weasel of a man is, I fear, so well-ensconced in the corridors of power that any attempt to gainsay him is probably futile.
This recent case is even more harmful than previous misdemeanors, and I am very sorry indeed for all the members at the receiving end. They face the demolition of their community, despite their voluntary efforts for over 40 years. It's shameful.
I very much doubt that messages from England (or anywhere) will help their case, but do please let me know if you think I might be wrong about that.
Best Wishes to you and Pat.
Maggie


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Subject: RE: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 21 Mar 08 - 11:23 PM

Jim, do you think it would help if we could get an on-line petition going?


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Subject: RE: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Gulliver
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 12:40 AM

I'd really like to hear what Comhaltas HQ have to say on this--they surely can't keep quiet much longer. There was nothing in today's Times (at least, that I could find). My own acquaintances who are members are all on the south side of the city, so not directly involved.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 04:22 AM

Bonnie,
Agree entirely with combining threads - sorry for the mix-up; thought there wasn't enough response.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 04:33 AM

Hello Maggie,
Nice to hear from you again.
Gulliver,
Don't hold your breath for a response from Head Office - him indoors tends to be a law unto himself, and very much relies on branches who accept decisions without question.
Jim
Would rather think that any action should be guided by the Clontarf Branch first.
Will pass on any information I get, though there is another thread going on this (Battle of Clontarf),; I started this one because I thought the matter wasn't getting the attention it deserved.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 05:37 AM

Jim, if there is anything we can do in the form of letter writing both of support to those affected and of protest to those in charge of this farce let us know.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 05:45 AM

There hasn't been! We ought not to be THIRD in the Google listings. Where IS everybody? I don't know if you're on the HEAnet Irish trad mailing group, but there have been exactly two posts about this. Both intelligently written, both expressing shock and concern, but two....??

I've PM'd Joe Offer to ask for a thread-combination, but it's two in the morning where he is, so he probably won't see it for a few hours. (Sleep, harrrumph, honestly, the excuses some people come up with... ;-)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: GUEST,Learaí na Láibe
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 08:44 AM

The relative silence of the net on this controversy is intriguing. Think Comhaltas needs an internal revolution.

Hi Bonnie, sorry for going off topic but how's the oul harping going? Are you still in Hibernia?

Slán

Learaí na Láibe


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 10:40 AM

Yep - in an old farmhouse out in east Cork, still harping away (and harping on, some may say...)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 10:58 AM

Blast these hidebound old men who are more concerned with their positions, their power, and their view as protectors of the purity. I have said many times that the one tradition in Irish music that is constant is that it will evolve by generations, while retaining the essence of its self. But if one leaves the actual music for a moment and moves to the organization, this becomes a travesty. As I understand it, you had a branch that was vibrant, and that its members got off their duffs and built this marvelous center, raised money for instruments, and had members that cut across age and class. WHAT MORE COULD ONE WANT FROM A BRANCH?????????

I am uninformed and far away, but my take is that these folks had something going that the HQ felt would threaten their primacy. This RAT fella seems to have felt threatened by it as well.

At a time when we are all trying to pass on to the next generation our love of these traditions and music, this can only be seen as a victory of power mad old men over what is best for the community.

To whomever perpetrated this I can only say,

Clúid ar do phoil ,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 02:20 PM

The full story of what is happening is to be found here.
I would suggest that anybody wishing to make their views known and offer the branch support should do so direct to the branch.
http://www.cluaintarbh.net/index.htm
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 03:49 PM

Publicity seems to be what's needed now.
Wonder if anybody has an in to fRoots, Musical Traditions, The Living Tradition, et al.... couldn't do any harm.
Have to say I'm appalled by the lack of interest shown by the Irish forum Irtrad!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: GUEST,the button
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM

I'd say The Living Tradition would definitely be interested, Jim. Unfortunately, the new issue's not long out, so it'd be a while before any story saw the light of day.

I don't have an "in" there, though -- just a subscriber.

I suppose the quickest one in terms of getting something out there would be a letter (well an e-mail) to Musical Traditions -- Rod seems to update the letters page once a month or more.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Big Mick
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 04:06 PM

Jim, I just read the "Guide for the Perplexed" at the website you linked to (after I fixed the link). I sent an email of support, and am not sure what more I can do. I did suggest that they petition for a new election, and then re-elect the same officers, thereby putting HQ in a political bind.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: GUEST,redsnapper
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 05:26 PM

Perhaps a breakaway faction is now in order?

RS


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 22 Mar 08 - 10:47 PM

I just became a member of the Boston Hanafin-Cooley Branch. It's been at least 25yrs since I let my membership lapse, for reasons that are of no importance to the subject at hand. I'll be seeing my branch Chairman this coming Monday at the session I attend & ask what news he has.
There's the 2008 North American Convention coming up in Parsippany, NJ this March 27-30, 2008. I won't be attending but I'll ask if the subject can be broached & I'll ask about any news if it has been discussed.
It seems to me that this is of importantance to all members world wide & that an airing of this should be demanded.
It would also be great subject matter for any local members that are songwriters in the traditional style (please don't make that a subject of debate here!).
I'd also think that any members of the Local branch at Clontarf should be proud of what they've done & how they've carried on what should be the HQ's direction, unfotunately from all that's so far gathered it's the HQ's, who's leadership should be brought into question & disolved. After hearing from my local chair & hoping to becoming more educated on the subject I'll also be sending condemnation & support in an e-mail to any & all parties involved.
Thanks Jim for bringing this into the light.

Here is a link to Comhaltas
& here is a link to the Cluain Tarbh Branch


Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 23 Mar 08 - 07:29 AM

Useless, I know, but all sympathy to the branch and those who do/did the work. I've seen similar with English self-appointed custodians of the tradition - it gets very painful and very unjust - all you can do is have the members fight. Good luck.
Tom


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: MARINER
Date: 24 Mar 08 - 06:16 AM

I once heard Comhaltas described as "Cultural Facsists" . I took that with a grain of salt but after reading this ,i ain't so sure anymore


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:12 AM

You need to remember that Comhaltas is divided into two parts - (rank and file (branches) and leadership), and don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
The branches have kept the music alive for over half a century by organising sessions and classes and promoting the music, while on the other hand the leadership........... well!!! Breandán Breathnach once describes them as "an organisation with a great future behind it!"
Personally, I have a problem with any organisation based on competitions, but that's me.
It seems astounding to me that there has not been a murmer from any of the branches.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:29 AM

I saw & talked with the Chair of the Boston branch tonight. Not a long talk & not one of much depth either but.
It seems that this topic will be brought up for more than just a discussion during the upcoming North American Convention in NJ next week & that there may already be some sort of solution in the making.
I hope that it's a solution that the Clontarf Branch is very happy with, they should be made to feel happy & should be made to feel proud too.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 04:40 AM

I am surprised, given the amount of money involved, that m'learned friends are not involved.

By and large I approve in principle of purity of traditions - that's what makes them traditions, otherwise they simply get assimilated - but traditions must also address the present or become no more than musuems (this is one of the aspects of genius of the 1954 definition).

This story, however, looks on the face of it less about the tradition and more about power politics. Follow the money!

Also, of course, be grateful that there are enough people in Ireland with an interest in the tradition for there to be two views about how best to deal with it! I often think that we could do with more pressure to retain and apply the English heritage.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 07:52 AM

Don't know what we can do to help but we can but try. I remeber the reason "report" authored by Labhras which tried to control all arts council money for the traditional arts through CCE.

After an uproar it was quietly shelved.

We must keep publicity about this injustice to the forefront.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 09:47 AM

Jim,

I have no brief for bullying of any kind.

If I can help in any way, you know where to reach me.

Slan leat, Bryn


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,aine in dublin
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 12:25 PM

A thoroughly undemocratic top heavy organization. There clearly needs to be a closer look at how the top brass in Comhaltas operate as a large amount of public money is given in grants to them on a yearly basis. Is there a role for the public accounts committe of the Dail or what about demanding an inquiry into the functioning of Comhaltas Head Office. Dissolving a branch in order to secure CONTROL over the new CLASAC centre is very strange and makes me believe that an investigation is long overdue. What about a petition demanding an inquiry into HQ of Comhaltas.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 12:36 PM

Just wanted to correct a few of the facts here. There's a bit more to this whole mess than is apparent from Clontarf's web page (quite a bit more), and actually the genesis of the dispute goes way back. (I'm speaking here as someone who works for Comhaltas, but isn't directly involved in the dispute. I have, however, spent lots of time working on the theatre project over the past year and I'm really, really looking forward to the new centre. I don't speak for official policy, though, not being an elected representative.)

Simply put, the Clontarf committee got in a bit of a mess over money, with construction cost overruns of about 2 million euro. Since the money was raised primarily from government grants, it's proving difficult to get the remaining money sorted out. The Clontarf committee has been making promises to pay vendors that they couldn't keep going back into last summer, and vendors have been ringing up Comhaltas head office every day for months to demand payment. Construction contractors and sub-contractors have started going to the media in hopes of embarrassing Comhaltas into paying -- to a contractor, it doesn't really matter whether the project is being run by a branch or by the parent organisation. The committee's been stonewalling.

Eventually Comhaltas asked the branch for a new arrangement to raise the remaining money and get the thing opened, but the committee's been stubborn about not giving up control, and not proposing any workable solutions for raising the 2 million. Eventually after a 5-week notice period and and a further period of moratorium, the branch committee was dissolved by unanimous vote of Comhaltas' elected high council.

Some members of the branch who know what's going on have formed a new committee and are trying to sort things out, while Comhaltas will do its best to get the construction project back on track. For the parents and children of the branch, there's no reason to think that the teaching programme and all of the rest of the great work of the branch won't continue — the musicians aren't and will certainly not be "homeless"!

Clontarf members who have been promoting and working on this project for the last 12 years should be extremely pleased and extremely proud -- this is a great thing for Irish music, for Dublin, and for culture. The centre is clearly needed, and I'm hoping that it will become a huge success, with lots of praise and appreciation for Cluain Tarbh Comhaltas. It does seem clear, though, that the branch needs new leadership if they're going to get this project working: the current stand-off with the vendors isn't getting the centre opened.

It should be noted that Comhaltas isn't *taking* anything here - the site is owned by Dublin County Council but leased to Comhaltas, and the building itself was always going to be vested in Comhaltas upon completion. The branch's role has been to manage the construction, make arrangements to appoint the first management board and hire staff for the theatre. They'll also use the building for classes and activities, of course, provide artists for the shows and participate in the commercial operations. None of that is in dispute. The dispute right now is about how to manage the rest of the construction and get the theatre opened.

The VAT refund is a bit of a side issue: the Department of Sports and Tourism instructed Comhaltas to obtain from the branch money that had been applied for and improperly refunded to the branch directly. Under instructions from Government, Comhaltas asked for the refund back in order to forward it back to Government. The branch instead made the refund directly to the Revenue, which is essentially the same outcome. This wasn't the reason for suspension -- the problem is the branch former committee's management of the construction project, which was deemed to put Comhaltas in a position of disrepute.

Just wanted to set the record straight -- you guys can all yell at me now. :-)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 12:49 PM

Not a yell from here but thanks for sheding more light on the subject.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Highkingoftara
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 12:57 PM

Jim Carroll needs a ciggie to calm his nerves. Looks like he's gone off half-cocked here.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 12:59 PM

Talk about good timing. I was just about to post that I thought it odd that no one spoke out for the other side. It is very odd on the Mudcat for there not to be a person who says something to the effect of "wait a minute, there is another side....". So I came on to ask what that was and there was Breandan (sorry for the lack of fada). Thank you for the report. It will be interesting to see where the discussion goes after your very level accounting.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Don Meade
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 01:55 PM

I'm also grateful to Breandán for his level-headed contribution to this discussion. But in his position (employee of CCÉ), I would be uncomfortable serving as the informal spokesman for an organization that doesn't care to explain itself officially.

Regardless of the financial/managerial deficiencies that have been used to justify the dissolution of the Cluain Tarbh branch, and regardless of the right of the central office to do so according to CCÉ rules, the manner in which this was done seems to have seriously alienated not only the now-ousted leadership but the bulk of the active membership of one of CCÉ's biggest and most successful branches.

As Cluain Tarbh have a large membership and a lot of vocal support outside of Comhaltas, this could easily lead to the establishment of a competing organization. As I think it unhealthy to have one bureaucratic and politicized outfit soak up most of the funds available to subsidize traditional music activities in Ireland, this might even be a good thing (though no one in Cultúrlann is likely to think so).

It is telling that the top priority for the CCÉ brass in this crisis was not to attempt to resolve the dispute in a way that respected the branch membership, but to make a quick grab for control of the property and money. Who is really bringing Comhaltas into disrepute here?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: the button
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 01:59 PM

Quite -- it's a bit of leap from "you could have managed this project better" to "... so we're going to dissolve your branch."


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Concerned tina
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 02:02 PM


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 02:22 PM

Don, I suppose that in part I was hoping to present this issue in a larger context, beyond a "quick grab for control of the property and money." As I said, the property was already leased to Comhaltas (not to the branch). The money for construction was already subvented through Comhaltas' own grant from Government. The day-to-day contacts on site management were mostly handled by a Comhaltas staffer, and people like myself have been involved with aspects of the building fit-out. All that's been "grabbed" by Comhaltas is the responsibility for a large debt incurred by the former committee.

And am I uncomfortable as an "unofficial spokesman" - of course I am! Comhaltas is working on a press release at the moment, but as you've noticed, PR (and damage control in general) is something that Comhaltas isn't great at (read, "really bad"). Doesn't mean we're a bunch of crooks, though.

I'd agree that the mechanism of conveying the facts to the Cluain Tarbh membership was flawed, but I'd submit that if the members had been kept properly informed as to the state of things by their own committee over the past year, there wouldn't be nearly the bad blood that we see at the moment. This needn't have been such a dramatic problem - if the committee had made arrangements for a line-of-credit at a bank or even dealt more forthrightly with the vendors, this could have been resolved long ago. This isn't a sudden problem in the least, and I and others have been seriously concerned since last summer.

I also believe that once the Clontarf membership have a chance to hear the other side presented in a rational way, that there will be no objections to continuing the project more or less as originally envisaged. The staff members at Comhaltas who have the most to do with the project are, after all, long-standing members of the branch. The membership has done an excellent job of developing an outstanding teaching programme, well-regarded tour group, professional contacts and provided excellent support for the music community of North Dublin and beyond. I'm pretty sure that none of the elected officers at Comhaltas would say any different.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 02:28 PM

Brendan thank you for letting some light on to a one-sided argument, as old Will said,`methinks Jim dost protest too much`.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM

Yes, it really does help to hear the other side of the tale, for which many thanks.

Still a few questions, though. Is there currently an operative Clontarf branch or is there not? Are they empowered to act as a membership-body or has this been nullified by suspension (which hardly seems democratic). What is this new committee who "know what's going on" (didn't the others?) and where have they come from? Is the branch itself split over this matter? There are still a lot of blank spaces in the story, and a lot depends upon whose side you read.

Clontarf are saying that Comhaltas did not confirm the dissolution to them and that they only heard about it on the radio, days later, when it was a fait accompli - a statement which conflicts outright with the 5-week notice cited above, and sounds arbitrary if true. And what was the reason for calling a period of moratorium over an issue as contentious and pressured as this, with creditors pounding on the door?

I'm not demanding that Breandán answer to every charge - he's not responsible for this sorry situation and is certainly not obliged to defend it. But a lot of questions do remain in the mind. Thanks to him for posting, though, because it is very helpful to get a better balance of views.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 02:43 PM

"The day-to-day contacts on site management were mostly handled by a Comhaltas staffer, and people like myself have been involved with aspects of the building fit-out."

Er - so why were there uncontrolled cost overruns? Looks like Comhaltas central screwed it up and is now trying to punt the blame upfield.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Don Meade
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:12 PM

Breandán - if this were a not a dispute about control over property and money, there would be no dispute at all, and no need to sack the branch leadership.

I will be attending the CCÉ North American convention this weekend and will be interested to hear what Sen. Ó Murchú and the other visiting Comhaltas leaders have to say about this issue - unless, of course, they choose to continue not to discuss it publicly.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:21 PM

I'm happy to answer a few questions, if it's helpful. Starting with the most recent:

* The cost overruns were mostly due to site clearance. Our surveyor told us that the site (which was reclaimed landfill) was suitable for building. However, subsequent drilling showed the existence of "hazardous waste" (mostly old oil drums which had been dumped in the landfill illegally.) So the site clearance ended up costing us €80/ton rather than €8/ton. It adds up - there was a lot of dirt to move.

* There were also problems with the engineering site survey (discrepancies on the number of support posts to be drilled), environmental impact, road access (running utilities across the public road and coming up with the required deposit to Dubin County Council), etc. Basically, nothing that's unremarkable on a building project these days, especially on reclaimed land. The overruns weren't really anyone's fault -- certainly not the fault of either the Clontarf committee or Comhaltas headquarters. With a bank-funded construction project, you can often extend a line-of-credit further in these circumstances, but because the project wasn't loan-funded and because we can't borrow against the land (since Dubiln County Council still owns it), covering the overrun is a lot harder.

* Yeah, I also heard on Duffy that the Clontarf folks who called in only heard about the dissolution on the programme. It's ridiculous, obviously - Comhaltas sent the secretary a letter in the usual way in plenty of time before the suspension, and then again before the dissolution. I can only speculate that the former branch committee hadn't shared this correspondence with the membership. Which would certainly account for the outrage. After the first programme, Comhaltas sent a letter to Duffy stating the status of the branch (but not saying anything substantive, far as I know.) Then on the second programme folks said they were hearing about things from Duffy first. It's nonsense, anyway. I don't blame the branch members or the folks who called in - they hadn't been given good information by their committee leadership.

* I believe that the moratorium was called to try and provide more time for ironing things out. Things with the creditors were already bad, but I believe the intention was to come up with a deal with the Clontarf committee, who were (after all) running the project.

* As far as the current status of Clontarf branch: The Comhaltas rules say that any group of five adults can get together and apply for membership as a branch of Comhaltas. It's designed to be a pretty easy process, and doesn't depend on having a lot of members at time of application - just the original few is enough to get going with the process. The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist. But, some adults from Clontarf have recently gotten together to apply for membership as a new branch. I believe this application is ongoing, though I'm sure that the Dublin County Board of Comhaltas will approve it. Once there's a branch in place, others (including former members of Clontarf) will be free and encouraged to join it. I'm sure that the new Clontarf committee, which is mostly made up of former branch chairs and secretaries, expects that most if not all of the former members will want to remain affiliated with Comhaltas, and will therefore become members of the newly-formed Clontarf branch. I believe that the committee would be hoping to sign people up before the membership lists are sent in at the end of October, by which time I hope this thing has receded quite a bit in people's minds. In the meantime, I believe that the new committee is taking responsibility for classes, insurance and so forth. But yes, there's the possibility for rival factions, or even for the former branch members to affiliate themselves as some new body, like incorporating as a private music school, for example.

* The new committee is composed mostly of former members of the Cluain Tarbh committee, so they know Comhaltas procedures and personnel quite well. I believe that between them they have something like 35 years in the *chair* of the Clontarf branch committee. Some were involved in the original plans for the Clasac theatre. But the branch is split at the moment, yes. I would expect and hope that more members would gravitate toward the new structure, once it becomes clear that branch activities and projects are continuing unchanged. That drift will probably depend on how well the new committee can make its case, and how Comhaltas is perceived coming out of the conflict.

Of course, I'm personally frustrated that Comhaltas hasn't been out there all over the airwaves since this thing broke. The Clontarf guys are good folks, they have a great tradition as a branch, and it's stupid to alienate a bunch of people who should be on the same side.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: the button
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:39 PM

Cheers for the long and considered response, Breandan.

But the problems with the project that you cite, which come down to poor risk analysis in the costings of the project -- regrettable, but human -- somehow don't lead me to think that this: -

"The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist"

was a reasonable course of action.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:41 PM

Don, enjoy the Convention! Should be some great tunes, and the organisers have done great work pulling it together.

I'm hoping to get Sen. Ó Murchú to sign off (from there) on a press release about the Clasaċ theatre project and Cluain Tarbh, which I'll post on the Comhaltas website before he speaks. With any luck that means he'll start making some public statements -- I know that musicians there (and elsewhere) are concerned.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM

Button, I don't believe that the cost overruns were the issue per se, but rather the lack of contingency or reasonable response over a period of many months. There were issues with communications, and with promises made but not kept. They really had quite a long time to try and sort something out before things came to this unfortunate pass. The branch committee chose their own sovereignty above the best interests of the branch and of the project, in my opinion.

I can't speak on the actual decision for dissolution, though: I'm not on the Ardchomhairle or the Dublin county board, and ultimately it was their decision. I just happen to be aware of the problems with the construction project and with the committee, mostly because I was in the room when the creditors would ring.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: the button
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 04:00 PM

Thanks for the response, Breandan, and for all your contributions to this thread.

I'm going to keep my gob shut about all this now. In any branch-based organisation, there's always got to be some give-and-take between branch autonomy and central control, and I'm not placed to be able to say anything more about whether the decision of the central organisation was warranted.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: kevink
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 05:22 PM

these unofficial explanations (alibis)for the outrageous actions of Labhras and his coterie have also been sent to this site http://www.thesession.org under this discussion title (The TRUTH about Cluain Tarbh CCÉ and CLASAC) and have been answered by cluain tarbh members. There is an attempt to muddy the waters. There is no reasonable justification for such an act of cultural vandalism. The people who set up a new branch represent little more than themselves but obviously have the support of Labhras and co. Its the type of maneouvre and snow job typical of the man.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 05:23 PM

"Jim Carroll needs a ciggie to calm his nerves. Looks like he's gone off half-cocked here."
Please explain - and don't forget we've been here on numerous occasions before,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 05:29 PM

Actually, my intention, kevink, was not to muddy waters, but to bring some clarity. I have enormous sympathy for the members of Cluain Tarbh Comhaltas -- if the Dublin County Board decided to suspend my own branch I'd be absolutely livid, and I have no idea what kind of explanation would be able to convince me otherwise. Which means that this situation is pretty much guaranteed both to make Comhaltas look bad, and also to engender fear, uncertainty and doubt in a bunch of very devoted and principled people. Which makes it really, really unfortunate.

However, there is still more to this than has been put forward by the former committee of Cluain Tarbh. And while I have a great deal of sympathy for the awful situation that we're all in, I'd like to ask that people consider the full set of facts before jumping to conclusions. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 05:38 PM

Just the very nature of your posts, Breandain, gives you much credibility. You don't seem to be muddying the waters, and are not rising to the bait. I am very interested in all points of view on this.

Nothing you have said changes my opinion of the hide bound nature of the organization's leadership. Nor do I believe they have handled it well. But neither is it what the local branch members tried to make it appear be.

I sure hope it gets worked out to the benefit of those that simply want to keep the culture, music and arts alive for their children and grandchildren.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 06:15 PM

Breandán, thanks for all the info, which is food for thought. I can wholeheartedly echo Big Mick's opening sentence in the post above.

But I have to say that, whatever the shortcomings or alleged misdemeanours of the original branch, I find the statement "The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist" is just too chillingly Big-Brother for me. If this dissolution was decided by a unanimous vote, as stated above, then the branch obviously were allowed no input on a ballot which so vitally affected them. Non-existence is pretty effective as a disempowerment tool. Whatever the branch committee did or didn't do, whatever control the Official Rule Book allows the management, this liquidation leaves a deeply nasty smell and smacks of despotism. It certainly does not inspire confidence in HQ.

OK so folks can all form a new branch and join up again, but I can't see why the whole manoeuvre was necessary, except perhaps as a slate-wiping (or committee-ousting) exercise. I assume members have to pay a subscription to belong (though I can find no figures anywhere on the website which is a little strange). Doesn't this give them some rights? And what if some people don't want to re-join a new cleansed branch? Will Comhaltas refund them the balance of their fee?

Breandán wrote, "I'm not on the Ardchomhairle or the Dublin county board, and ultimately it was their decision."

Buttons wrote, "I'm not placed to be able to say anything more about whether the decision of the central organisation was warranted."

Neither am I. That's the whole point. The only people who ARE so placed are those within said organisation. Not a reason to forego questioning.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 06:27 PM

Ouch, that was probably an unfortunate sentence, wasn't it! Anyway, the committee that ultimately cast the vote was comprised of representatives of each province in Ireland, along with representatives from the USA and Britain.

As far as I know, the branch would be liable for their annual membership dues again in October anyway, so there's no financial impact to switching to a "different" branch in the meantime. Dues are 12 Euro/year for a single senior membership (less for children and families), and are used largely to help with insurance costs for branch events.

I can lobby the members of the Dublin County Board and Ardchomhairle to make their reasoning known publicly, and personally I'd find it refreshing and healthy if they would do exactly that. I can also see their argument that it would be hard not to single out members of the branch committee, etc., which has been a factor in the silence thus far.

If I find out anything further that would have a bearing on the issue, I'll let you guys know.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,sparkles
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 10:50 PM

Thanks for taking the trouble to write all that, Brendan. It's interesting & helpful to know, tho I have to admit that I still have some doubts in my mind. You described the unanimous voters in your earlier post as Comhaltas's high council, so even if there are representatives from all those places, it's pretty clear which side of the fence they're on. Its not like putting it to a general democratic vote.

I don't know why people are taking potshots at Jim. All he did was raise a perfectly fair question which hasn't been officially answered yet. That's not protesting too much, either the way Shakespeare meant it or as a straightforward statement. As for going off half cocked, how else can you go when you only have HALF the information? He asked the high king of Tara to explain what he meant by that remark but I bet he won't.

Why didn't Comhaltas issue a formal statement explaining themselves? They still haven't. Brendan writing as a private person on this non-Irish website isn't the same thing however good his posts are. The fact that the big bosses are saying nothing is just weird. No wonder people get suspicious.

Jury's still out on this, IMO.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: michaelr
Date: 25 Mar 08 - 11:42 PM

Anyone think this guy might be a ringer?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 04:15 AM

Which guy - a ringer for whom?
I would still like to hear an official statement on the affair - which has remarkable echoes of the London Branch expulsion. This matter has been rumbling on for some time - does it really take so long to prepare a public statement (for the members of CCE and for the general public, who's taxes help to fund the organisation to the tune of €millions annually.)
The danger of allowing major decisions to be taken by unelected individuals should be more than apparent following the highly embarrassing affair of Labhras's 1999 report to the Oireachtas on the state of music in Ireland, which did much damage to the credibility of CCE and no good at all to Irish traditional music in general.
Surely the simple morality (or lack of same) of the outrageous act of ejecting a group from premises they have built should be the key issue here.
Still waiting for an explanation to GUEST,Highkingoftara's posting, but won't hold my breath - sniping is a well tried and trusted form of defence!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 05:34 AM

The question is, if O`Murchu has been a liability over the years, how is it that CCE is so strong?, our local branch is flourishing, it is a delight to see young children so adept and happy to play their music.
The many thousands that go to the Fleadhs are proof enough that someone somewhere is doing things right.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 05:59 AM

Jim, I'd also like to hear an official statement! I believe there's one in the pipeline, and it should be out soon.

I don't believe that the hold-up is actually in preparing such a document, but rather that the decision was made (unwisely, in my opinion) that public statements could be damaging to the branch and its officers. Obviously, Comhaltas isn't really up on 20th century news cycles, nevermind 21st .... but I definitely agree with you on the need for an official explanation.

However, I would dispute that we have here an example of a "major decision [] taken by unelected individuals". The decision to dissolve the Clontarf branch was made by two elected boards: Dublin County Board and the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas. Because Labhrás Ó Murchú tends to be the public face of Comhaltas, people to assume that all organisation decisions are taken by him alone, which is not the case.

Senator Ó Murchú is the Director-General of Comhaltas, which is a staff position appointed by the Ardchomhairle, an elected body. If the Ardchomhairle representatives from the provincial organisations decided tomorrow that he should no longer administrate the day-to-day affairs of the organisation, they could push him out with a 2/3 vote at their next meeting.

I would also dispute that a group has been "ejected [] from premises they have built." A site already leased to Comhaltas and a building already owned by Comhaltas is undergoing a shake-up in the local management committee. That's all. This has been a joint project of Comhaltas and the branch for years, and it has been a mutually supportive relationship.

Dublin is on the brink of opening an incredible new cultural resource, something that should work well both for the members of Clontarf Comhaltas and for everyone else who enjoys Irish traditional music and dance.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 09:47 AM

People that are taking potshots at Jim Carroll are just spouting ignorant blather. His musical credentials, as well as his stated and demonstrated love of the cultural treasure that belongs to all of Ireland's children and grandchildren whether in Ireland or around the world, is well known. Clearly there are issues here, and he has raised them.

I really appreciate Breandan's comments as well. They bring clarity to the Comhaltas position, even if unofficial, and show some of the opposing arguments. As a person who has often worked with volunteer organizations, I would say that it is not unusual for their passion and efforts to exceed their ability to manage them. God bless all volunteers, but sometimes they get a bit out front and over their heads. It is the job of the parent organization to monitor that all is in keeping with the law and fiduciary responsibility.

I am holding my breath a bit. One of the things that makes me wonder a bit about Breandan's posts here is that they seem to be at odds with the political facts of the case. I know that if one works in an organization, especially a hidebound and rigid organization, that unauthorized releases of information would be frowned upon and dealt with severely. It does puzzle me that he releases such detailed information and this Ard Ri of Comhaltas doesn't stop him. That seems at odds with what one and all are saying about him to this old political hack. He is either due for a hidin' or he may be releasing what the organization wants released in a manner that suits them. But at this point I will hold my concerns and just trust that he is what he seems to be. No offense intended, Breandan, just observations. When one has been organizing unions his entire adult life, they tend to look for the bridge beyond the fog.

I especially take note of my old friend and foil, ard mhacha's comments. This is another whose love of the culture and music cannot be questioned. His comments about keeping an eye on what is important is good sauce for this goose that is being cooked.

Le gach dea-mhéin,      

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 12:04 PM

The official statement is one heck of a long time coming, it must be going to be good!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 02:31 PM

The boul Mick, have a look at the`postshots` Jim gave O`Murchu insults such as `Larry the lab rat`, in my branch of Comhaltas I have never ever heard him slurred thus,I have heard nothing but praise for CCE.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 02:45 PM

Fair enough, ard mhacha, he did indeed. But he isn't the first I have heard that from. I will leave that argument for those that know this man, and I have always respected your opinions. I get your point as to the effectiveness of CCE, in your experience. All I am saying is that there are others whom have a different experience. As to me, I am just trying to sort it out, as it certainly seems to be an issue in how it was handled.

Although we don't always agree, you may rest assured that I always have great respect for your point of view. I hope my post didn't seem to indicate otherwise.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: michaelr
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:16 PM

Breandan claims not to speak for Comhaltas, yet here and at thesession.org he has posted at length, clarifying CCE's position. I wonder if he has not been charged with damage control...

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:20 PM

Mick In my time associated with out Branch I have seen children progress to such an extent we have our weekly Mass in Irish the children play their music throughout, an oul heathen like myself is moved to hear the beauty of our traditional airs.
This is all through CCE some of us have never met O`Murchu those that have have nothing but praise for his work, the facts are there, CCE is thriving, maybe someone will tell us different, I would be very interested to be given the rest of the faults, as I am completely in the dark about the many failures.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Aine in dublin
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:33 PM

Yes it is true that local branches are flourishing as was the Branch in Clontarf - the biggest in Ireland I understand. Yet the democratically elected committee and the entire branch have been dissolved and a handful of older members of the branch are taking over in a coup like fashion.The parents of the young people and children in Clonrarf are expected by the Ard Chomhailrle of CCE to allow their children to attend classes run by the new imposed branch committee. This is nothing short of outrageous.    How can Labrahas be in any way complimented by ArdMhaca for the treatment he has overseen of the entire Clontarf branch. How can music flourish against this background. As for the Fleadh - well apart from Scoil Eigse and the competitions and sessions in the day - the Fleadh is in good part a drunken jamboree from Friday evening to Sunday night. It is certainly not a conducive atmosphere for appreciating a session. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get into a session you can hear - most people appear to have a vague interest and are largely there for the 'craic and the booze' For years now I have been of the view that the Fleadh needs a radical rethink and overhaul. Over the weekends of the Fleadh the towns that host it look like Beiruit at the height of the trouble there. You cannot say the drunken shambles the Fleadh is at present is somthing that Head Office and O'Mhurucu should be proud of. Yhey are not doing a good job. It is time for a new structure in CCE at the top level that is democratic, transparent and accountable. I am a member of a trade union and have reservations about their level of democracy but they are an oasis of democracy compared to HO of CCE. Yes many thousands go to the Fleadhs to get off their heads and parents of young children largely stay out of the town over the weekend for security reasons other than to attend competitions. The CCE HQ and structures need to be overhauled as does the Fleadh. Think again Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:41 PM

Breandán,
Thank you for your explanation - it goes some way to satisfying my curiosity - but certainly not all the way.
Virtually all the organisations I have belonged to at one time or another have had safeguards built in to prevent abuses of power by those in authority.
I listened with growing disbelief to the discussion on the phone in last week and I have to admit that my first thought was 'here we go again'.
"The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist".
Is it really the case that CCE leadership have the power to close down a branch without consulting the membership (and from what I heard, without consulting the branch in question)?
Does the branch have no right of appeal - is that it - wave of the wand, whoosh - you're an ex branch!!!!
It would appear that my first instincts were the right ones, but I wait with some interest to be proved wrong.
Jim Carroll
To those who have commented on my disrespect for O Murchu - sorry, past experiences and observations have left me with no respect whatever for the man and it would have been hypocritical of me to pretend otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,maggie boyle
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:44 PM

Being a CCE expellee, it won't surprise anyone that I have often heard him slurred. I won't repeat those things here; but I'd like to bring attention to the fact that he was known to many as "President for Life" as far back as the late 60s. I was extremely young then, and just accepted it as a fact! And so it has come to pass...
CCE branches do great work, as did we at the (ORIGINAL) West London branch, before we had the temerity to question the wisdom of the Executive.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:44 PM

Aine, did you read Breandain's posts? I don't quarrel with the facts as you state them, as I am not present there. But his explanation of the financial problems, and the HQ's handling of that seems completely in line with what any parent organization is expected to do. It is not unlike Trade Unions in the States. The Local Unions are autonomous bodies and can run their affairs as they see fit. But if they fail in the proper exercise of their fiduciary and constitutional duties, and the HQ can demonstrate that(and their are rigid and formidable burdens of proofs for doing so), it is entirely proper for them to take over, or trustee, these Locals. We then restore their finances to a proper place, correct the inequities caused by the malfeasance, and then restore the Local to its members by holding new elections.

Your post seems to mix many problems into one stew. The taking over of the branch, if Breandain's information is correct, seems the appropriate action. Before you say it, I am not naieve on these matters and I am sure there are some politics involved as well, as my previous post states. If you have specific information on that which mitigates the information we are receiving, I am very interested in hearing it.

Le gach dea-mhéin,      

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 03:47 PM

I am saddened to hear of your troubles Aine, but I can only give an opinion of what I am seeing and hearing with our thriving Branch.
I would be more informed if other Branches throughout the country give their opinions.
As I said earlier I am completely in the dark regarding the bile on this Thread on CCE, are all of the remaining Branches in the Dublin Comhaltas in agreement with you?, I am not being critical here, just curious.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 04:00 PM

Aine, I wouldn`t argue with you on the shambles at the present day Fleadhs, the earlier Fleadhs I attended were a pleasure, todays society will use any excuse for a booze-up.   Aine what do you do to change this/.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Diarmaid
Date: 26 Mar 08 - 10:50 PM

Breandán, perhaps you should get some of your facts straight. I think you should come out and say that the only details you know are those that are being fed to you by your paymasters. You have so many inaccuracies that I could not correct them line by line and still give a sense of what actually happened.

Your posting of 25 Mar 08 - 12:36 PM
You say there were cost overruns of 2 million euro. UNTRUE. It was known that there would be a shortfall of approx. 1.8 million euro. Labhrás was aware that a bank loan for this amount would be required and a loan was negotiated with the bank for this amount with Labhrás' approval and encouragement- perhaps, he forgot to tell you.

I assume the reason the contractors were ringing head office is because it was a head office employee who was managing the project. Is this who you refer to when you speak about stonewalling?

At a branch EGM to which Labhrás and members of the Buanchoiste turned up, a motion was put forward by the branch calling on the Branch committee and Comhaltas to work together to resolve the difficulties. Only 2 people voted against this motion with no abstentions.

The successful EGM motion was sent to HO and it was hoped by the branch that we could move forward together.

At this stage, Comhaltas HQ started spinning their story. They sent a series of letters in which the truth was distorted (for instance claiming that the branch was divided at the EGM). In hindsite, I think the branch should have more fiercely rebutted the allegations made but we were still hoping that we could work with Head Office to resolve the problem. Although we stated our case to the Buanchoiste, they refused to pass our correspondence to the other Ardchomhairle members or to allow us to present our case.

On 5th Feb, a letter was sent by HO stating that they were taking control of Clasac.

Once HO took control of Clasac, it meant that the entity registered for VAT, had to deregister as, in effect, it had never and would never trade. The VAT refund then had to be returned to the Revenue Commissioners.

On 6th Feb, a letter was sent by HO stating that the branch had been suspended for failing to transfer a VAT refund to a HO account.

The branch was given seven days to 'regularise its position in relation to the VAT refund'. As far as the branch was concerned, the position was regularised by returning the VAT to the Revenue Commissioners. HO were informed of same and the branch received a letter from Revenue stating that we had done the right thing in the circumstances.

The branch was told at all times that the reason for suspension and threat of dissolution was because of the VAT. As far as we were concerned, we had taken the only course available to us because of the fact that the Ardchomhairle had taken control of the Clasac project.

Breandán, you say that 'some members of the branch who know what's going on have formed a new committee'. If they knew what was going on, why did they not enlighten any of the other members of the branch at the number of full branch meetings which have been held since the New Year? Also, you failed to state that the committee was formed when a new Cluain Tarbh branch was created before the existing committee or branch had even been notified that they had been dissolved. This new branch was formed at a secret meeting to which the majority of the existing members were not invited and when some members found out about it they were informed that they could not attend as it was a 'private meeting'. Now, there's democracy in action! On the Liveline Radio program, the newly elected chairperson claimed that they had a quorum. I take it, by that, there were five people there which is the number required to set up a new branch.

A letter was then circulated by a member of the Ardchomhairle basically stating that they would give membership to our kids if they entered competitions on behalf of the new branch. The rest of the membership would not be entitled to branch membership, presumably because that would also entitle them to a vote.

Breandán. You say that the VAT refund is a side issue. Why then was the branch dissolved over this? I realise that we were not allowed to present any defense in the matter, also that we were not allowed to appeal any of the decisions made against us, but now you say that it didn't matter whether or not we complied with the Trustee's directive on VAT because we were going to be dissolved anyway.

You say that you believe that the 'Clontarf membership' would have no objections to continuing the project more or less as originally envisaged.

Are you referring to the disenfranchised members of the dissolved Clontarf branch. If so, I tell you again that what we asked of the Ardchomhairle in our EGM motion was that they work with us to ensure the project be completed successfully and the board of Clasac be put in place as per the original agreement.

Their response was to dissolve the branch.

In your posting of 25 Mar 08 - 03:21 PM, you do actually have some statements which are true. Once again though, you're not telling the full truth and in many cases there is no truth in what you say.. You state that a loan could not be borrowed against the land. You fail to state that the loan which had been negotiated by the branch was to be borrowed against the building itself and was ringfenced so that no other assets of Comhaltas would be at risk. Therefore, because the building is vested in the Trustees of Comhaltas, they were the only people who could sign for the loan. Labhrás/the Trustees refused to do this and instead wanted individuals in the branch to put their homes up as collateral.

With regard to the letter of dissolution, you say that it was sent out in the usual way in plenty of time.
The letters of 5th and 6th Feb regarding seizure of control of Clasac and suspension/possible dissolution of the branch were sent by registered post to both the secretary and chairman of the branch. In most other cases, letters were copied to both the chairman and secretary and in many cases were also emailed.

On this occasion, the letter dissolving the branch was not considered important enough to send by registered post. Nor was it deemed necessary to copy it to the chairman. Despite us being told initially that a copy would be emailed, we were later informed that this was not considered appropriate. Instead, the letter was sent out by standard post. Oh, did I mention that they sent it to the wrong address? But, of course, you'd know that Breandán because you have the inside track.

To the best of my knowledge, apart from Labhrás threatening to sue, there was no correspondence between HO and Joe Duffy's show other than to send the letter of dissolution to them. The letter, by the way, stated that the branch was dissolved with effect from the date of the letter (14th March) despite numerous assurances to us that the branch would not be dissolved until the letter had been received.

This conveniently allowed HO people to set up the new branch with their own committee on the 15th before we had been notified of our dissolution.

You refer to the moratorium. HO's letter of 6th Feb states clearly that the moratorium was to allow us the opportunity to sort out the VAT refund. Are you telling us that what they said in their letter was untrue?

When you talk about the new committee, you say that once the branch is in place, others will be free and encouraged to join it.
Why then have they only offered membership to our kids?
Why would they wait until October to offer membership to others?

I believe the reason to be that they are in cahoots with head office to get their members on the board of Clasac so that Labhrás can say he has abided by the agreement on that. The members who set up the new branch are basically those members who voted in favour of the Ardchomhairle motion that Cluain Tarbh hand control of Clasac to HO. When they didn't get their way, their friends in HO helped them out by dissolving the branch and allowing them to set up a new branch with themselves as the self-appointed committee. Isn't democracy wonderful!

You say that the decision to dissolve the Clontarf Branch was made by two elected boards: Dublin County Board and the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas.
Clontarf Branch was dissolved by the Ardchomhairle. I doubt the County Board had any hand in it other than being informed that we were being dissolved.
Any decision made by the Ardchomhairle was not an informed decision as we were not allowed to present our case to them and the Buanchoiste refused to pass our correspondence to them.
Dublin County Board were instructed not to hear our case or accept our correspondence and were also instructed not to allow our reps to attend the County Board meeting.

You continually assert that you are not trying to muddy the waters but you make vague sweeping statements implying things that are not so. If you don't know what you're talking about, don't try to pretend you do. If you do know what you're talking about, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

For anyone interested in the truth, I would urge you to check out the branch website www.cluaintarbh.net

We are trying to put as much info as possible on the website including copies of documents. However, as we don't work at this full time, you may have to bear with us.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 03:51 AM

I started this thread because I was angered at what I believed to be an outrageous act of injustice on the part of an organisation which purports to act on behalf of the music I have been involved in for the greater part of my life - traditional music. Little I have read so far persuades me that I was wrong to do so. I am left with the feeling that, left in the hands of the incumbent leadership, this matter, as with other similar incidents in the past (West London Branch), Clontarf would end up as another trophy on the wall of head office. Even the most repressive regimes in the world go through the motions of democracy to justify their behaviour - not the case here!
Sorry Mick - I too was involved in Trades Union activity - head office only EVER intervened as a last resort - not the case here, where, it appears, the branch (nor the rest of the organisation) - has not even been consulted. Any Union leader taking such liberties would have ended up 'face down in The Mersey.'
I live in the West of Ireland where, at the present time anyway, traditional music is thriving - without, and some would say "in spite of" CCE. There are good, healthy sessions and youngsters are taking up the music in droves - for the love of it - and not a competition in sight.
There is little doubt that CCE has played a part in the past, but that is no longer the case, and that fact has to be come to terms with.
A popular saying in the sixties was "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 06:36 AM

Diarmid and Jim, Points read and digested, the question is, how do we find the opinions of the rest of the Branches throughout Ireland on CCE?, it is not an unreasonable question, then we can all know how things stand.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 06:58 AM

You can contact each one individually and directly from the info on this page:

http://comhaltas.ie/locations/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 07:01 AM

You can click on the map icons too, which will bring up contact details of each one.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,sparkles
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 08:37 AM

But the branches didn't get to vote on this, did they? From what I can read, only the internal High Council got to do that.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 08:52 AM

I'm not sure the branches are privy to any further information than what we've been told here. And no one's going to publicly post grapevine gossip -


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 09:01 AM

Wow, and I thought the 1999 report was a disaster. What has happened here is incredible.

Has any body any suggestions of anything we can do about this?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,neutral 'i think' party
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 09:21 AM

This whole episode is sad to see.
As usual, the same figures/parties rush out to defend or attack Comhaltas.
There are elaborate arguments being made on both sides from something that initially appeared quite straight forward.

I take issue with the following:

"You continually assert that you are not trying to muddy the waters but you make vague sweeping statements implying things that are not so. If you don't know what you're talking about, don't try to pretend you do. If you do know what you're talking about, tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Breandan, has put forward the other side of the story, in a clear manner. Maybe you disagree, maybe it isn't all factually correct, but he appears to know more about what he is talking about than the majority of contributors to the Joe Duffy show. I am sure you wouldn't be so quick to jump on a post stating "Labhras, the president of ceoltas has stolen away a building from the clontarf branch, the biggest branch in the world".

"However, as we don't work at this full time, you may have to bear with us."
- a subtle dig?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 11:23 AM

Neutral?

It just sounds like enthnic cleansing to me, trying to solve a problem by eliminating any opposition. It's one thing to have a disagreement between two sides on an issue, but one of those sides is doing their best to make sure the other side doesn't exist. That is NOT FAIR whatever the points of argument are. They seem to think they can do anything they want just because they decide to do it.

That 1999 report people mentioned is interesting. Google "Oireachtas report Comhaltas 1999" and it brings up what looks like a PDF copy of the 1999 Oireachtas Report though it's in Irish.

It also brings up this --

From The Journal of Music in Ireland site dated May/June 2002

http://www.thejmi.com/article/73

(part way down the page) The creation of a 'national State council for the development and promotion of the traditional arts such as native music, song, dance, storytelling, etc.' was first proposed by Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú (Director General of Comhaltas Ceóltoirí Éireann) in the first ever Oireachtas Report on Traditional Irish Music, which he compiled for the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Heritage and the Irish Language in January 1999. In the Irish Times on 9th March 1999, the Report was described by reporter Mic Moroney as follows:

By any standards, this report is an extraordinary partisan document, which shows scant signs of research. Instead, it gives a romanticised and rather out-dated picture, which concentrates on the virtues of only one organisation: Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.

What followed was an angry stream of correspondence in the letters page between Labhrás Ó Murchú and his supporters and various critics of the Report – Tom Munnelly, John Moulden, Terry Moylan, Nicholas Carolan, Fintan Vallely and Matt Cranitch. The letters continued to appear up until late May.

Following this debacle, the Report appeared to be shelved...


continued on the link above. And more if you google--


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 01:15 PM

Thanks Bonnie but it would take me a hell of a time to go around each Branch,it is up to everyone concerned to contact CCE HQ and explain your position.
The point is Comhaltas is not on its last legs, everything will be humming along to-morrow night at our local Branch, and no need of drink to produce the music.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 01:19 PM

> how do we find the opinions of the rest of the Branches throughout Ireland on CCE?, it is not an unreasonable question, then we can all know how things stand.

Sorry, I must have misunderstood your question! I thought you were asking for the opinions of the rest of the branches -


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Folkiedave
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 01:44 PM

What followed was an angry stream of correspondence in the letters page between Labhrás Ó Murchú and his supporters and various critics of the Report – Tom Munnelly, John Moulden, Terry Moylan, Nicholas Carolan, Fintan Vallely and Matt Cranitch. The letters continued to appear up until late May.

If that's a list of his critics it tells me an awful lot about which side to be on!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 03:05 PM

Apologies for the thread drift in this engrossing saga (something like this crops up every year or two in an Arts organisation in Ireland, with both sides going at it hammer and thongs), but I have to take issue with "Guest, Aine in Dublin", who says: the Fleadh is in good part a drunken jamboree from Friday evening to Sunday night. It is certainly not a conducive atmosphere for appreciating a session. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get into a session you can hear - most people appear to have a vague interest and are largely there for the 'craic and the booze'. I was at the Fleadh in Tullamore last August and my friends and I had a wonderful time. We visited and played in many of the 27 pubs, not to mention hotels, street sessions, dancing, etc. Yes, it was a bit difficult getting into some sessions, as the space and seats were limited, but then we just continued to the next one--there were well over 50 concurrent sessions on Sunday alone. Sure, I saw a few drunks--what do you expect with thirty or forty thousand people on the streets? And her statement that parents of young children largely stay out of the town over the weekend is untrue as can be seen from my photos, which are available here. Happy kids and happy musicians.
Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 03:28 PM

Great set of pictures Gulliver.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 03:38 PM

It seems to me that even if the Cluain Tarbh Branch were making a total mess of the project,(and nothing I read outside of Breandán's posts suggests that this is actually the case), that the Branch still should have been given some form of due process before the branch was expunged with the stroke of a pen.

Whether the Ard Comhairle were legally within their rights to do what they did their position is morally indefensible. And in morality if the members of the (real) branch are not going to have the use of the Classac centre then the money that was raised by the branch towards the project should be refunded to the branch for distribution among the membership. Why do I get the feeling that that will never happen?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 03:51 PM

Wonderful pictures.

Yeah, Declan, that is kind of where I seem to be leaning. I think it is telling that since the counter story was run, and some pointed questions were raised, we have not heard from Breandain. I would have preferred to have the dialogue go on between knowledgeable folks so's the rest of us could come to informed opinions.

But no matter what else is presented, no matter how plausible it seems, there is a disconnect when one comes to the process and dissolution. It seems to have been done as a thief in the night. That certainly colours my view of all that has been said.

Very difficult from afar, eh?

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 04:17 PM

Though I am understandably reluctant to wade back in here, I do feel compelled to correct a couple of misconceptions which have taken hold in the popular imagination.

First, though the dissolution of the branch on 14 March, 2008 has understandably come as a shock to outsiders and even to those within the branch who were not kept abreast of events, it should be kept in mind that the Clasaċ management committee was aware of the 2 million shortfall in February 2007 - this was minuted at the time. Since that time, including at 11 meetings taking place between Sep 2007 and Dec 2007 between representatives of the Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas and the Clasaċ committee, continued concern has been expressed at the handling of the project and the need for additional funding. Though a bank loan was eventually brought forward in Dec 2007, it was not one that the trustees of Comhaltas could guarantee while maintaining their fiduciary duty to safeguard the other property of Comhaltas. The reasons for this are technical and I won't get into them here, but the fact is that the branch had a very, very long time to address these issues before things came to a head this spring. The committee were perhaps just in over their heads.

Second, while I do not wish to minimise the contributions of the Clontarf branch to the inception and public awareness of Clasaċ project, it should be borne in mind that the branch raised approximately €150,000 of the €9,000,000 project. This is still a huge achievement, but it should be remembered that the Clasaċ committee was charged with managing what was mostly other people's money. Comhaltas had a very clear interest in ensuring that the usage of the Dept of Arts, Sports and Tourism money that went into the Clasaċ theatre was being properly used and administered.

Third, I do think that it is relevant to discuss the experience of the new branch committee which has been formed. This executive committee includes the three ex-chairpersons of the branch for the last 20 years -- the same ones who painstakingly built the excellent reputation of the Clontarf branch. By contrast, the committee which was dissolved has been in power for only the last two years. The "real" committee, it could be argued, is the newly-formed one, whose members were members of the original 4-person Clasaċ development committee for 13 years and were involved first-hand with every fundraiser that took place.

Fourth, regarding the future of the branch. There has never been even the remotest suggestion that all members of the Clontarf branch would not be making use of the facilities of the new theatre. It is also important to note that the first act of the new committee was to ensure that all classes would continue and that all payments made for these classes would be honoured; all teachers employed would be paid; all Fleadh entries for 2008 would be accepted as normal Comhaltas entries, even if in the longer term the person did not wish to remain a member; all current ordinary members would have their membership honoured; and of course no penalty would be imposed on ordinary members, who had no active part in the circumstances leading to the dissolution. This has been approved by Dublin County Board and by Leinster Council. I have seen suggestions that adult members are somehow now being excluded from the Clontarf branch or from Clasaċ, which is not the case in the least.

I await with interest further attacks upon my credibility and character.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 04:44 PM

If you will permit a follow-up post:

Diarmaid: though I appreciate the work you have put in as Secretary, I submit to you that a serious error was made by the branch in allowing the same persons to fill the Chairperson and Treasurer positions of the Cluain Tarbh executive committee and the Clasaċ sub-committee. When financial matters went unresolved with Clasaċ, the net result was to put the Cluain Tarbh branch itself in jeopardy, which needn't have been the case. The year-long intransigence of the committee eventually precipitated a last-resort action by the Ardchomhairle which resulted in fear and confusion within the branch, and an obvious public confusion and outcry which serves neither nor the branch nor the larger organisation.

The dissolution, though a terrible last resort, was felt necessary by the elected council of the Ardchomhairle (after 8 hours of debate) in part because the ordinary branch members did not know what was taking place in their name. With the interlocking directorships of the branch executive and the theatre sub-committee, there was no independent voice within the branch capable of applying pressure on the theatre committee to develop a proper plan for addressing the funding shortfall.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 04:49 PM

Well, now that is news regarding the make-up of the committees, the plot thickens, what do you think Mick?.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,MRS FLANNERY-
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 05:04 PM

Would Dustin or Judge Mahon or some respected persona arbitrate on this ,and get on with a few tunes & primary agenda stuff --- we have just written a tune called "The Power Struggle "


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 05:26 PM

Clontarf/Cluain Tarbh is Irish for "The Plain of the Bull"

Thereby hangs a tail:
Comhaltas took the bull by the horns and dismantled the branch. The branch in turn accused Comhaltas of behaving like a bull in a china-shop while Comhaltas accused them of making up cock-and-bull stories of the whole affair. Who is bull****ing whom?

(I'll get me coat...)
Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,MRS FLANNERY-
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 05:56 PM

A tale without a tail is not a tale at all --our newly written lamentation "The Power Struggle" a thugtar, is a classic manifestion , as caoine, of the falsely concepted hostilities that are born of mistrust and misdeeds that have been engendered by lack of adequate forward planning and major communication deficiencies--
Its beyond time that someone raised the white Cockade


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 05:58 PM

***LOL***, ard mhacha. This is getting to be an interesting intersection to be sipping a cuppa on, indeed. Back and forth, but one can see the various positions and how they are coming at it. I hope Breandain doesn't include you or I in the attacks on his character or integrity, but I do think it is obvious that he is more than what we first thought. It does appear he is putting out one point of view and doing it with much inside info, eh?

To be continued..........and I am really enjoying this, sad as the situation is.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 06:07 PM

Two sets each and now going into the final set, can the oul legs of O`Murchu stand the pace or will the young Turks finally win the day, watch this space.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Snuffy
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 06:22 PM

By your leave Larry Grogan,
Enough has been spoken,
It's time to give over your sonnet, your sonnet;
Come listen to mine sir,
Much truer than thine sir,
For these very eyes were upon it.
It is of a buck slain,
This very campaign,
To let him live longer, 'twere a pity, 'twere a pity:
For head and for branches,
For fat and for haunches,
Exceeding the mayor of a city, a city.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 06:38 PM

Mick, I certainly wouldn't include you or ard mhacha in that characterisation - sorry if I implied otherwise!

If it's useful for anyone as far as credibility, I'm certainly not claiming to be just a Dublin musician. I'm employed part-time at the moment by Comhaltas - I designed and am the webmaster of http://comhaltas.ie. My authority isn't in the area of PR, but since no-one was speaking out and I happened to know a lot about the controversy, I'm posting kinda on my own. No-one asked me to post; but then as the "tech guy" around the office, I'm one of the few who's aware of the Internet.

I don't mind if people criticise Comhaltas or the actions of its officers or officials -- I spend plenty of time doing that myself. But before we can get into motivations, it seemed that there was/is an awful lot of misinformation (bred and reinforced by mistrust) out there.

I'm posting on my own time (and neglecting my studies!), but also chatting casually to staff and elected representatives who I happen to know. I've been in the room at Head Office when a lot of this went down over the past year, though (again) it's not really in my area. I designed some killer sound and light systems for the new Clasac theatre, and I can't wait to work some shows in there. I enjoy meeting the members of Cluain Tarbh at the Dublin Fleadh and at the Fleadh Cheoil, though my own branch is different one in Dublin.

Anyway, to refer to the very first post, where Jim says:

"It would appear that the leadership of CCE has taken over the premises which was built with money raised by the local branch, and has expelled the branch in order to finalise the dirty deed."

There's a lot there that's simply not true. It's not Jim's fault - he heard it on the radio, and then read Cluain Tarbh's website. But the leadership of CCÉ haven't taken over anything -- it always was a Comhaltas-owned building. Money wasn't raised mostly by the branch - the local branch raised about 2% of the money. The branch wasn't expelled to finalise the takeover of a theatre - Comhaltas' high council suspended and then dissolved the executive committee of the branch, because the project was in jeopardy and a year of negotiations hadn't resolved it. And fortunately, the branch executive has re-formed itself quickly with an experienced committee.

Personally, I think that the branch members should have been kept better-informed of the money issues. I also think that the branch shouldn't have let the theatre committee be run by the branch executive. I also personally wish that there had been another way to get the project back on track, and I wholeheartedly agree that the mechanisms of communication and public relations (even when talking to the branch) were severely neglected by Comhaltas leadership. Doesn't mean it was a mean-spirited greedy power-grab, though.

Anyway, those are the facts. I think that it might be quite productive to discuss funding or politics in arts-based non-profits. State sponsorship of traditional arts raises all sorts of interesting issues of governance and representation. It's also interesting to speculate on the Ardchomhairle debate. But none of that can be done meaningfully when people don't know what's going on.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,sparkles
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 07:38 PM

Or when there are two versions of what's going on for us not to know about.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 08:57 PM

I'm not trying to question anyone's credibility here either. Just trying to ascertain the facts, so I can make up my own mind as to the rights and wrongs of the situation. The lack of trust of Comhaltas leadership shown by a number of people here is not groundless and comes from various experiences with CCÉ as an organisation.

One thing that I don't quite understand. If the Classac project was being run by a separate committee, albeit apparently with a fair amount of overlap with the Cluain Tarbh Branch Committee, the why was it the Cluain Tarbh BC that was dissolved rather than the Classac committee. It would seem that 400 people have effectively been wiped out of the organisation (albeit apparently with the right to come back in if they would choose to do so (I must say I wouldn't)) because of the alleged incompetence of a few committee members.

And I am delighted to hear that the new members will be allowed to use the facility which they worked so hard to help create, but it seems to me the essential issue here is one of control.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 08:59 PM

Very astute post, Declan. Thanks for capturing it so well.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Mar 08 - 09:07 PM

Thanks again for all who are posting with the way they see it & with the info they have. There are never enough views nor enough info, that we can't use more of it.
I await 1st hand reports of how this is being dealt with during this upcoming weekend's North American Convention. I suspect that the cat's got to be let out of the bag by this point & that there'll be some sort of public announcement/statement along with a hopefully better way at bringing this to a healthy solution that all interested parties can be happy with. After all is said & done it's the music that's the most important priorty & we all would love to see this in the future as only a past footnote in the continuation of a musical tradition that we all love, honor & respect.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:19 AM

Breandán,
Sorry - I really don't buy any of this - just what is Comhaltas policy on expulsions (branch or individual) - does anybody have the right of representation or appeal?
I refer you back to a posting I made some time ago regarding a previous 'head rolling' session - this time concerning the West London branch expulsion (for not toe-ing a political (political) line).
Are we likely to have more expulsions of those who don't support Bertie in his hour of need?
Jim Carroll

"I wasn't associated with the West London Branch at the time of the expulsion, but the events went something like this (my information was gleaned from my friend and neighbour, the late Paddy Boyle, father of Maggie Boyle who posted above).

Labhrás ó Murchú decided that Comhaltas should raise money for a commemoration to Padraig Pearse; I think it was the centenary of his birth which would have made the date around 1979. Branch members in West London objected, claiming that it was not the job of an organisation devoted to music to participate in political events. A letter was sent saying as much and Larry replied saying (in so many words); "do as you're told or else". The "or else" was expulsion and the branch was expelled.

The expelled members continued to operate as a very active branch (I think they called themselves The West London Irish Music Association) and ran regular sessions at the Hibernian Club, Fulham, where they recieved the support of players such as Bobby Casey, Raymond Roland, Roger Sherlock, Danny Meehan, John Carthy, P J Crotty, John Bowe, Fergus McTeggart, The MacCarthys and many others, in other words, the cream of London/Irish music.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 05:25 AM

Jim I believe that Brendan put over his opinion very well, not an insult in sight, also 1979 is quite a long time ago, in the meantime Comhaltas hasn`t fallen apart.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 06:55 AM

"1979 was a long time ago" - ???!!!! Oh. So that makes it all right, then?

The whole point is not when it happened, but that it happened at all. The fact that a branch can arbitrarily be dissolved simply because they don't agree with the political opinions of the leader, on a topic that has nothing whatever to do with their group aims and objectives, was, is - and shall remain - unacceptable. The organisation is about MUSIC, which by its definition transcends political views, race, religion, gender and all else.

The point is that it clearly shows a behaviour pattern and abuse of power. I was THERE in London at the time, and though I lived in another part of the city (North London Comhaltas was our local) there was widespread shock and fury when it occurred. What makes you think that this sort of thing becomes "OK" simply because a number of years pass? And now the abracadabra-you're-history thing is happening again. Well, and why not? It sure works. And don't kid yourself, Labhrás ó Murchú's political affiliations with Fianna Fáil - the party in power, whose leader is currently under investigation for corruption - do him no harm at all.

Just for the record, I didn't know Jim Carroll in those days, and in fact have never met him at all except online, through this forum and the Ir-Trad email list. Therefore we are not personal acquaintances. I did know Maggie Boyle very slightly back in the 70s, pretty much on a hi-how-are-you basis in assorted sessions or backstage at various concerts. So, although it must look like we're a coterie, we're not. These are, in fact, independent views of the same situation, by people who witnessed it. Dissolving that branch over an opinion that differed with the leader's and had NO relevance to music was wrong then AND IT'S WRONG NOW. And it seems to be happening again.

I don't understand why you keep stressing that Comhaltas is still going strong. Of COURSE it is!! No one - and I mean no one - would wish it otherwise. But that is totally beside the point being discussed here. Whereas Jim's post is all too horribly relevant. Dissolving the opposition - because you can - is the most blatant injustice and abuse of power.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 08:33 AM

All of the Officers of the dissolved Branch have opted to keep quiet I wonder why.Yes there is a financial scandal, what surprises me is how could anyone appear to be shocked.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 09:24 AM

Ah yes, the Lord of Obfuscation raises his ugly head. For the clear view, refer to Bonnie Shaljean's post. Despite attempts to shift the premise, I believe the real issue is the one of process. As I pointed out earlier, there is no question that a parent organization has an obligation to watch out for the interests of the rank and file, and make sure there is no malfeasance in how their local organization is being run with respect to finances and delivery of services. That is one of the prime duties of all parent organizations which are run by dues and grants. But the fundamental issue here is not about that. That is what it appears CCE would like you to focus on. What I hear from Jim, Bonnie, and others is about process being denied by an autocratic leader who seems to use his position to bludgeon folks who don't agree with him, and reward those that go along nicely. Classic carrot and stick. Stay to it, Bonnie, because your point is an important one. The attempt to shift the discussion to the financial problems is an attempt to get away from the one of process. The financial discussion is only relevant in the actual appeal process, where the facts of the reasons for dissolution should be discussed. But the appeal process, and the discussion of the legitimacy of the Chief Officers actions is what is at risk here.

Sorry, friend ard mhacha, but I believe that using the length of time since 1979 would only be legitimate if the player was different, and if the same circumstance were not in evidence. I am sure that in the intervening time there are likely many more examples of heavy handed tactics that could be found.

Once again, these are simply the observations of a person who is interested and very far away. I await other details that will influence me, but this is how it appears to me.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 09:45 AM

http://www.cluaintarbh.net/clasac-docs.htm


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 10:02 AM

Breandan's comments surly brings to mind that old musical proverb"He who pays the piper calls the tune"


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 10:06 AM

Good on you Bonnie that`s me told off,but our old friend Guest-guest asks a very important question, any answers?.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 10:21 AM

You're right, Ard Mhacha (hey... we agree!) - it's a very important question indeed, and I am just as interested as you to know the answers. One can always learn something. But it's just too easy to anonymously whisper that there's "a scandal" and leave it at that.

Guest, if you have an allegation to make, MAKE it. And while you're at it, why don't you tell us who you are?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 11:45 AM

The original "frame" of this discussion was around theft - plain and bold-faced theft of resources amassed by an idealistic branch of Comhaltas. I made my comments with that in mind, and it seems I've been successful in showing, at the least, that there's another side to this matter.

Now, as you say, the conversation has moved to process - how, in the light of these difficulties with capital structuring, did the branch committee come to be dissolved? The answer there lies more, in my opinion, with the interlocking management of the branch and the project. Ideally, the problems with the construction project would be brought to the attention of the branch executive, who would have taken steps to resolve the problem. In this case, the management of the project *was* the branch executive, who actively screened their own membership from access to information. Needless to say, they did not suggest any changes to their own committee. In this case, the only way of getting the project complete was to put pressure on the branch, a process that was applied by Comhaltas' high council, the Ardchomhairle, working in concert with the Dublin County Board. In a stand-off between a local unit and the elected leadership of an organisation, I'm afraid that the leadership does have the right, constitutionally, to prevail, and that's what happened here. No matter the generally autonomous nature of branch activities and decision-making, when the elected leadership to which the branch has elected representatives asks the branch to do something, the local unit pretty much has to comply.

I'm troubled by the assumption (implicit, and never stated outright that I can see) that Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú is exercising some kind of unilateral and unchecked power. Though as Director-General he signs the checks, the process leading up to the dissolution of the branch is not an action that can be taken by him. There is an easy tendency to assume that, because he is generally the only member of the Comhaltas leadership in the public eye, he must be personally responsible for every decision taken by the organisation. Not true. His own ties to the Government are certainly useful to Comhaltas when it comes to fund-raising, but this is a question of a higher level of a democratic government putting pressure (justified, in my opinion) on a lower-level unit of the same elective structure. Not uncommon, in any field. This unwillingness of the branch officials (elected at the local level) to accept the authority of the Ardchomhairle (elected at the provincial level) led to the dissolution.

Senator Ó Murchú's job is to implement the policies of the democratically-elected government of Comhaltas, a structure of which the branch executive is a part. I have not yet seen anyone make any factual statements indicating that the Senator made a personal decision to attack the Clontaf branch, and yet many seem happy to assume this to be the case.

I admit that this is, in part, a deliberately defensive posture on his part. By absorbing all of the public flack for the decisions and actions of Comhaltas, he is doing his job and protecting other levels of the organisation. While I appreciate that quality of his, I do find it annoying when it is automatically assumed that the good outcomes of Comhaltas are created by the idealistic grass-roots and that the negative or controversial outcomes are the result of naked autocratic power, exercised by a single man. It just doesn't work like that. If the Ardchomhairle wanted to replace Senator Ó Murchú, they could do so at their next meeting. That says something about where the power actually lies.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 12:07 PM

I can't speak for the others, but in my case I was utilising his name as a sort of shorthand for headquarters and the committee in power, rather than singling him out individually. As he's the visible figurehead in all the PR, so he also tends to get used as an abbreviation which includes the faceless others working behind the scene, whom we don't see in the promotional material. I have enough experience with similar organisations over many years to know how bureaucratically they are run.

Politicians and leaders do stand out as the representatives for their organisations, and as such they have a public profile. (That old adage about heat and kitchens comes to mind.) I think most people are aware of this.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 12:23 PM

One thing about Comhaltas, interestingly, is that the actual running of the organisation is extremely un-bureaucratic. There is a tiny handful of full- and part-time staff who handle day-to-day operations, with Labhrás Ó Murchú one of probably 10 staff for an organisation providing services to 30,000 members around the globe.

All of the policy and decision-making for the body, along with the vast majority of event planning and all of the teaching programme development is done by volunteers, elected at local level.

At the head office of Comhaltas, we don't really have much in the way of memos, staff meetings, departments -- probably we're missing most of what you'd describe as a bureaucracy. The governing council, the ardchomhairle, is made up of elected volunteers, and is entirely and deliberately separate from the professional staff.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 12:32 PM

Sorry, bad choice of words on my part. I probably should have said "communally". In any case I didn't mean it in the critical sense, only as the opposite of autocratic. It was purely casual usage. (How many bodies outside of governments can even afford to be bureaucracies?)

Still waiting for an answer, Guest -


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:11 PM

Bonnie, you get a prize for being the first to use "opposite of autocratic" to describe the Comhaltas decision-making process. I'll count you as a firm supporter in future. :-)

Anyway, Comhaltas has (finally) released a statement on the affair. You might want to take a look, parse away, and let me know if there's anything I can clarify.

http://comhaltas.ie/press_room/detail/clontarf/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,trad
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:45 PM

That sounds cold, as usual.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,trad
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 03:48 PM

The long awaited response

:The Ardchomhairle of Comhaltas, which is elected by the general membership through the Provincial and Annual Congress structures, is charged with the proper governance of the organisation including financial matters and the rights of individual members.

Clontarf CCÉ set up the Clasaċ sub-committee to spearhead the building of a centre on Dublin's Northside. The Clasaċ building was subsequently to be recognised as one of seven Regional Resource Centres of Comhaltas and funded as such by the Ardchomhairle under the grant - aided Development Programme of the organisation. The local Comhaltas would also have a home in the centre. The local committee - as was the case with the other regional centres - was expected through fundraising to make a substantial contribution. This never materialised.

The cost of the project rose to over € 9,000,000. The Clasaċ development committee splintered with most of the early advocates of the project resigning, claiming mismanagement of the project and raising questions regarding financial matters.

Several other centres which were scheduled to receive funding under the Development Programme agreed to forego this funding to help prop up the Clasaċ project.

The Trustees of Comhaltas carried out an investigation of the project and issued a highly critical report, which was adopted by the Ardchomhairle. This report was discussed with representatives of the local committee who accepted its findings.

This situation reached crisis point in December 2007 when debts of almost € 2,000,000 incurred by the Clasaċ committee, remained unpaid. Several small contractors who have not been paid for their work on the project were facing financial ruin. The chairman of the local branch of Comhaltas who was also chairman of the Clasaċ development committee, in the presence of a professional arbitrator on the 7th of December 2007, met with the main contractor and undertook to pay a portion of the outstanding debts prior to Christmas. This payment never materialised.

The Ardchomhairle at this stage had no option but to intervene. It established a modus operandi to stabilise the situation. This is chaired by the Secretary General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and includes the Treasurer General. The Ardchomhairle borrowed € 2,000,000 from the bank to pay the outstanding debts.

The local committee initiated an application for refund of VAT. It has refused to provide the Ardchomhairle with all documentation and information relating to the basis and process of the application by the local committee to the Revenue Commissioners for refund of VAT, which had in fact been paid by the Ardchomhairle. We have not had sight of the invoices submitted to substantiate this VAT claim. As the VAT had already been paid to Comhaltas by way of grant-aid, a refund would be deemed to be double funding and the local committee was informed of this. Invoices for all work carried out were in the name of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, 32 Belgrave Square, Monkstown, Co Dublin, which were paid by Comhaltas and re-claimed as such (including VAT) from the Department which was supplied with original copies of the invoices and the Architect's Certificates which were audited and certified.

In the course of the process initiated by by the Ardchomhairle to investigate and regularise all the financial dealings of the project, a decision was made by some people in the local committee to deregister the VAT status and the refund received was returned to the Revenue Commissioners. This fundamental and serious move did not have the required sanction of a properly convened meeting of the full membership of the local branch.

The various directives issued unanimously by the 31- member Ardchomhairle were not brought, within the specified time, to a properly convened meeting of the full membership of the branch to allow them to have an input into their future within the organisation. This was a clear breach of the organisation's Bunreacht.

The situation has now been stabilised; the Centre is in the process of completion and will be opened later in the year.

It is a source of regret to the Ardchomhairle that the local committee did not avail of the several opportunities provided to regularise its position within the organisation; take responsibility for its actions and be in full conformity with the Bunreacht of Commhaltas.

The Ardchomhairle, following several postponments of its directives was left with no choice but to fulfil its obligations and disolve the branch. However there will be a modus operandi to acknowledge and recognise the members who were not afforded their constitutional rights to have an input into the matters under review.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Sean Murphy
Date: 28 Mar 08 - 07:35 PM

Today's press release from Comhaltas Ceoltoir Eireann HQ (http://comhaltas.ie/press_room/detail/clontarf/) makes some serious allegations against the Clontarf Branch's management of the Clasac centre project: members failed to deliver on their fundraising commitments, irresponsibly ran up debts of 2 million Euros, took it upon themselves to apply for a VAT refund and then returned same to Revenue without sanction, and generally behaved undemocratically and ignored directions from HQ.

If true, these allegations would justify the dissolution of Clontarf Branch.

But are they true?

Sean Murphy


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 04:46 AM

In the end I suppose it's down to whose version of events you believe; the articulate, rational one represented here by the postings of Aine, Dairmaid, and the statements from the expelled Clontarf branch members, or the one that appears to have been finally elicited from the CCE leadership that has had to be dragged, kicking and screaming out of its ivory tower to give an explanation for, (whatever version you accept) its outrageous behaviour.
After all, it's not as if we don't have precedent to go on to help us make up our minds; though I suppose it's a sort of progress that some explanation has been given at all - (I still don't know where 'democracy' stands in all this).
During the course of this dispute I re-read the report that Labhrás gave to the Oireachtas in 1999, and some of the protest submissions, and once again I was left with the overwhelming impression of 'Empire Builders and nodding-dogs, (like those you see in the back windows of cars); the former being those who trample on members and branches to get to where they are going, and the latter who let them get away with it.
Yes ard mhacha, the 1979 expulsion was 'a long time ago' and Comhaltas 'hasn't fallen apart' - surely that's the point; nothing has changed, the dinosaurs still roam the earth, and they will continue to do so until a decent form of democratic representation is put into place in CCE. As it stands at present, the view of the membership (and the taxpayer who provides the wherewithal) amounts to little more than 'a hill of beans' (as the man said!)
Whatever the outcome of all this, I have little doubt that it won't be too long before we are here again discussing yet another scandal. I do know that all this has little, if anything to do with the traditional Irish music that I know and love.
In the meantime; the branch has my support and, I am sure, that of many others of us who have been given this small peep behind the locked doors of head office.Wish there was more we could do.
Best wishes,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 05:34 AM

What I wish is that someone from Clontarf would log on and answer these charges. Right here in clear language, not with a bunch of confusing downloads. Those accusations are serious. Sean Murphy asked the question we all want to know - is this stuff true? And if they have an argument to put forward explaining their side, they need to do it. Keeping quiet is making them look bad.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 06:59 AM

PS
Whatever the outcome of all this, the words "The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist" will stay with me for a very long time to come
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Learaí na Láibe
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 07:42 AM

Quote from statement of the Ardchomhairle:

"However there will be a modus operandi to acknowledge and recognise the members who were not afforded their constitutional rights to have an input into the matters under review."

Are they thus acknowledging that their dissolution of the branch was not carried out correctly.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter I find the relative silence of Comhaltas members from Ireland very strange. This is the only forum that seems to have any prolonged discussion on the subject, AFAIK - I'm open to correction. None of the popular Irish forums seem to show any interest. Is the Comhaltas 'culture' hostile to people who have outspoken views.

Beware the evil Meeja (media)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 02:56 PM

Yeah, I argued about that last bit - the statement sounds as if the Ardchomhairle deprived people of rights. That's not what they meant to say - it's supposed to be an indication that the former branch committee deprived their own members of the right to discuss and debate the issues around the financial mismanagement. And that the Ardchomhairle will be hoping to find a way to address that.

That's what I find a little odd about this whole argument, actually - what's happened is that a committee of a few people who didn't do a very good job managing a flagship project has been replaced by another committee of people who have vastly more experience with the whole issue, and the project is back on track. And I think you know that's what I meant, Jim - that statement could well (and should) have said, "The former Clontarf committee has been dissolved, and so does not currently represent the branch membership."

From the point of those here who care about process and democracy, that's a very good thing.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 03:50 PM

"That's not what they meant to say"
For an organisation whose job it it to communicate to the public they don't seem very good at it!
"That statement could well (and should) have said, "
For an organisation whose job it it to communicate to the public they don't seem very good at it!
Come on Breandán - decide which hymn book you're singing from and get the words right.
Everything that has happened regarding Clontarf is completely in keeping with what has happened in the past.
Democracy to Comhaltas appears to be what Western civilisation was to Ghandi - a good idea - no more.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: MARINER
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 04:13 PM

Maybe I got this wrong Breandán ,but are you saying that dissolving a committee at the stroke of a pen from onhigh is democratic??


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Sean Murphy
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 05:08 PM

Yes, even for the very interested who take the trouble to read them, the Clontarf Branch documents accessible at http://www.cluaintarbh.net/index.htm can appear 'confusing' because they contain so much detail. However, having matched the Comhaltas official press release with said documents, I would venture the following thoughts on the charges against the Clontarf Branch:

Members failed to deliver on their fundraising commitments: how far short was the Branch in the matter of funds raised?

Irresponsibly ran up debts of 2 million Euros: was not HQ aware in good time that an additional bank loan would have to be obtained, and did not delay in finalising this precipitate a funding crisis?

Took it upon themselves to apply for a VAT refund and then returned same to Revenue without sanction: was the branch not legally obliged to sort out the VAT issue without delay?

Generally behaved undemocratically and ignored directions from HQ: the online documents show the branch holding general meetings, arguing their case with HQ and pleading to be heard, but ultimately being arbitrarily dissolved.

In general, the Comhaltas press release is a rather good example of PR spin, somehow contriving to give the impression that the problems with the Clasac project are all the fault of the former Clontarf branch, and that HQ and a more sensible local committee have now set matters right.

Sean Murphy
Irish Historical Mysteries http://homepage.eircom.net/%7Eseanjmurphy/irhismys/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 05:44 PM

And have they? Problems costing 2 million? HOW?

And how happy are the ordinary members with the new committee? Does anyone even know?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,maggie boyle
Date: 29 Mar 08 - 11:16 PM

Hello everyone

I will try keep this bit to a minimum, as current issues are obviously more pressing, but the 1979 West London case has been referred to a few times of late. I must say that ard mhacha's comment that 1979 was a long time ago, in the context of what happened to many families and a huge social group, was thoughtless & hurtful.
I'd like to straighten up the record in relation to this 'historical' but sadly now familiar expulsion issue. It was not a case of the West London committee disagreeing with Larry's politics (many would have agreed with his causes); the committee protested that it was against the constitution of CCE to use his position to attempt to raise funds for political reasons. He was fund-raising (via CCE) for the Padraig Pearse Centenary celebrations – a fine thing to do as Chairman (as he then was) of the Padraig Pearse Commemoration committee, but not something that should have been foist on all branches of CCE, in our opinion. The dispute became a matter of public discussion and it's this that became the reason for our expulsion. We had apparently brought the organisation into disrepute via the public discussion. You need to remember that 1979 hosted a different climate, and it was important – even to the most Republican of CCE committee members in London – that the constitution points (i.e. non-religious, non-political etc) – were upheld. People were working hard to promote Irish Music in England (West London had succeeded in producing a BBC documentary about the branch), and there were numerous non-Irish committee members.
Anyway, the process adopted by the CCE Executive at the time perfectly mirrors the current solution. People who could not countenance life with out Comhaltas, or those who did not understand the subtleties of the argument – or those who just agreed with Larry's actions and did not care about the constitution – were invited to form a new committee. It worked. I estimate that 10-15% of the old membership formed the new West London CCE, which celebrated it's "50th" anniversary in 2007 (with no mention of the schism in 1979 as far as I can tell). The whole thing at the time was just incredibly sad. There were people in the middle of the whole scenario who just did not know where to go anymore. Thankfully most of us re-grouped, and that set-up is still going strong – at The Kilkenny, Tooting, every Tuesday.

To more salient issues, and the statement issued by HQ….I think that it's important for as many people as possible to view the documents on http://www.cluaintarbh.net/ My 'take' on these complex issues around ownership/loans is that – in taking possession of the building, and subsequently asking the branch to secure the loans required for completion of works – there was an impossible demand situation. How could the branch possibly be expected to secure a loan of this size with no security? They'd have to put up their homes.
The documents are lengthy, but clear. The recent statement implies that HQ borrowed 2 million euros at end of December 2007, to bail out this irresponsible branch. Why, therefore, do I see documentation of an Extraordinary General Meeting of the branch on 8th January 2008, stating "We are very concerned to ensure bank funding is put in place immediately to complete the project" and pleading their case for this not being their responsibility? And there is another letter, dated 28th January, with similar concerns about payment of contractors.

This is only one aspect of a case, the whole of which we can't hope to fully comprehend. But it's an aspect that has been very neatly side-stepped in the statement from HQ (above). Unsurprisingly, I must agree with Sean Murphy that the statement is a "rather good example of PR spin".
Please research it for yourselves.
Responses from the branch members (ex or current!) would also be most welcome.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 12:38 AM

Thanks Maggie, for posting more of the "historical details". I for one think that in this case history is very relevent in this situation. If we don't study/examine history we are doomed to repeat it & it seems as if it's being repeated here.
Bad blood over musical issues/differences is bad enough but bad blood over political/contractual issues & differences is unexceptable. It seems that the 1979 "conflict" was cause for some bloody damage, it should've been a high priority for all involved, espically on the side of HQ that the same mistakes weren't repeated. But there's bad blood now & that's gonna have a negitive effect throughtout CCE. It seems to late for that now. The loans are in place, the project is resumed, now there seems to be blame enough to drown the spirit of the whole org in. Like a pebble with it's ripple effect in a pond, this will be a bone of contention for yrs to come just as the 1979 incident is now resurfacing again 30 yrs later. Does any one wish to relive this one 30 yrs down the line? Not knowing any of the envolved, past or present & being far away from any closely envolved it seems to me that for the good of everyone a sacrificial lamb might be offered up as a one time special for this evenings menue. Cut the head off the figurehead, (you'll get by without the head but can you survive without the heart?) isn't that where the buck stops anyway, at the head? Give him up if that'll put an end to bad blood & if that's what it takes to heal the new & old wounds. It certinlly seems that if he's not wholly responsible for poor choices in how to have handled this in a proper way he's at the least got his hand up far enough to be held more responsible that anyone else now as well as the last lasting distasteful issue & he's at the very least played an important part in both. His head seems to be the mostly likely way to start repairing the damage that's already been caused.

I hope that this does not get me expelled, I just renewed my membership after a 25 yr lapse, I won't live long enough to rejoin again.
Only the thoughts of one. Don't shoot the messenger just cause the message sucks.

Good Luck to all

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 06:06 AM

The official statement (as is the often the way with these things raises more questions for me than it answers. Some of the questions that come to mind are:

1. Who was actually running the project? We are told that the Classac committee was a sub-committee of the Cluain Tarbh Branch, but Diarmuid (who Breandán identifies as the Branch Secretary) states that the Project Manager was in Head Office (a statement which has not been contested) and the statement indicates that the bills were being paid from CCE HQ. It would seem that the project was not as far removed from HQ as we are being led to believe.

2. Why did HQ become so exercised about the VAT refund being returned to Revenue instead of to them? The statement seems to concur with the view that the refund wasn't properly payable in this case. The money was therefore the property of the exchequer, and ultimately the Irish taxpayer. This being the case we can only assume that the money would have gone back to Revenue in any event. While this is being played down at the moment, it would appear to me that the refund of the money directly to Revenue was the action that precipatated the dissolution of the Branch.

3. Why did the trustees have a problem with guaranteeing the loan negotiated by the Classac committee? We are told there were technical reasons why the trustees felt unable to guarantee the loan and that they were exercising their fiduciary duties to protect other Comhaltas property. But statements from the branch on their website indicate that the loan was ringfenced to Classac - was this not the case?

Democracy is about people having the right to choose those who represent them. We are now bing told that it is good for democracy that the committee chosen by the Branch (I presume) is being replaced by a "better" committee, chosen by HQ. I'd hate to live in a "Democracy" run by Comhaltas HQ.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 06:39 AM

What-The-Others-Are-Saying dept:

http://dublinopinion.com/2008/03/25/lament-for-the-clontarf-branch-slow-air/

http://www.politics.ie/viewtopic.php?t=32745

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/bitter-row-erupts-over-funding-for-trad-


Note that these are Irish websites, two blogs and a news report from The Independent.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:50 AM

Declan, I don't mind at all answering the questions that you raise:

1. "Who was actually running the project?"

Clasaċ is a Comhaltas project, but one initiated and run by the branch. The branch took responsibility for the running of the construction project, initial marketing of the centre, getting a management board in place, etc. They accomplished this through the working of a sub-committee. One member of this committee also worked in Comhaltas head office, mostly on unrelated projects, and in fact he also worked extremely hard on Clasaċ day-to-day. (Full disclosure: he's a friend of mine.) However, he was not in any of the committee executive positions (chairman, secretary or treasurer). Bills were paid through Comhaltas because the government grant was subvented through Comhaltas' grant-aid. Comhaltas would pay the bill (including VAT), get appropriate certifications and submit the invoice to Government, who provided reimbursement.

2. "Why did HQ become so exercised about the VAT refund being returned to Revenue instead of to them?"

Because VAT was already being reimbursed by one Government department (Arts/Tourism), it was completely inappropriate for the branch to independently apply for reimbursement of the same money through another department (Revenue). When the branch made this application using a newly-registered non-Comhaltas VAT number, the Revenue returned the money (we're not sure why - there's a Revenue investigation under way.) Once this was learned, the Department of Sport/Tourism directed Comhaltas to recover this money from the branch and forward it back to the department to avoid double-funding. Comhaltas complied with the government directive by requesting the money back from the branch, which refused. This refusal to recognise the authority of the Ardchomhairle was deemed a serious matter. The money was eventually returned to Revenue directly, but this decision was made independently by the branch, again not respecting the directive of Arts/Tourism.

3. Why did the trustees have a problem with guaranteeing the loan negotiated by the Classac committee?

The loan was presented in Dec 2007, at least 10 months after the need became obvious. The branch should have known that there was no way to "ring-fence" a loan around the Clasaċ building itself; the terms of the original grant-aid required that if the centre failed the Department of Arts/Tourism would be the first to be paid back. The bank would not have allowed itself to be the "second in line" in a default scenario, and the bank would insist on other Comhaltas assets being in play. The Comhaltas trustees couldn't have signed such an agreement without having direct control over how the money was being spent and still meet their responsibilities. If the branch had done their research (and had talked to the trustees at one of the many opportunities over the year), they would have known that such a loan request, brought by the branch at the 11th hour, would be rejected.

(5.) "We are now bing told that it is good for democracy that the committee chosen by the Branch (I presume) is being replaced by a "better" committee, chosen by HQ."

The new committee was not "chosen by HQ". When the original committee was dissolved as a last-resort measure, some more experienced hands within the branch organised themselves into a committee and applied for membership to the Dublin County Board as a branch of Comhaltas. This new committee has committed to holding a number of open meetings with the full membership in the coming months. The former committee was the one acting in a non-democratic way by not allowing the membership of Clontarf to meet and discuss these issues in a public way, at least not until the very last minute when things were already in crisis. One reason that the committee was dissolved, in fact, is that they failed to hold meetings in a timely manner involving the full membership of the branch. Non-payment of vendors, besides being an example of extremely poor management, was also deemed to put Comhaltas in disrepute.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 10:53 AM

Interesting development, I see they (Clontarf CCE) are holding a gala concert shortly, interesting line-up! (see their website)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,kevink
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 06:19 PM

Over the last few days, the position of breandain has evolved. Initially he presented himself as an impartial observer who respected both sides as acting out of purely selfless motives, now given the pure volume of his contributions to this and other sites and his unquestioning support of head office's version of events and despite the contradictions with his own earlier versions of events its my opinion that Breandain is acting as the main full time spokesperson for head office.

AN ECHO FROM HISTORY?
In 1953, a popular uprising in what was then East Germany (the GDR) was crushed by Russian tanks. Responding to the irony of workers being militarily crushed in what was laughingly called a workers democracy the great German writer,Bertolt Brecht, who lived in the GDR, courageously commented on the events and the 'official' version of same through the poem below,

The Solution
Bertolt Brecht
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

I am not trying to directly compare such tragic events with the unfortunate row with Cluain Tarbh but there are some parallels in methodology. At the EGM where many Cluain Tarbh members heard the views of Labhras and the standing ctte, many for the first time, the vast majority of parents and young people rejected their viewpoint and the resolution put to the meeting by a member of the Ard chomhairle by about 95%. The 5% minority, and I am being generous here, who supported the attacks on the branch executive are now the 'officially' recognised self-selected Cluain Tarbh branch.
Does that not echo Brecht's jibe on dissolving the people and electing another. How can one have respect for the people involved in such a manoeuvre?
In Breandains more recent statements there seems to be attempts to airbrush very recent versions of events. The dissolving of the branch, a very difficult act to defend, is increasingly being changed to the dissolving of the branch ctte. Is it the truth that the branch had to be dissolved because the members wouldn't be bullied into submission? I use the word bullied because of the extraordinarily aggressive and contemptuous attitude displayed on that night to the upstanding and honest members of the branch who have no agenda outside the best interest of the branch and Comhaltas. They all have day jobs and are outstanding volunteers in their own time.
The necessity and methods used for the dissolution of the branch is still not being explained despite all the thousands of words expended on this site and others by Breandain and this to me is the most important issue facing all members of CCE


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,kevink
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 06:34 PM

Over the last few days, the position of Breandain has evolved. Initially he presented himself as an impartial observer who respected both sides as both acting out of pure motives, now given the pure volume of his contributions to this and other sites and his unquestioning support of head office's version of events and despite the contradictions with his own earlier versions of events its my opinion that Breandain is acting as the main full time spokesperson for head office.

AN ECHO FROM HISTORY ?
In 1953, a popular uprising in what was then East Germany (the GDR) was crushed by Russian tanks. Responding to the irony of workers being militarily in what was laughingly called a workers democracy the great German writer,Bertolt Brecht, who lived in the GDR courageously commented on the events and the official version of same through the poem below,

The Solution
Bertolt Brecht
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

I am not trying to directly compare such tragic events with the unfortunate row with Cluain Tarbh but there are some parallels in methodology. At the EGM where many Cluain Tarbh members heard the views of Labhras and the standing ctte many for the first time, the vast majority of parents and young people rejected their viewpoint and the resolution put to the meeting by a member of the Ard chomhairle by about 95%. The 5% minority, and I am being generous here, who supported the attacks on the branch executive are now the officially recognised self-selected Cluain Tarbh branch.

Does that not echo Brecht's jibe on dissolving the people and electing another. How can one have respect for the people involved in such a manoeuvre?

In Breandains more recent statements there seems to be attempts to airbrush very recent versions of events. The dissolving of the branch, a very difficult act to defend, is increasingly being changed to the dissolving of the branch ctte. Is it the truth that the branch had to be dissolved because the members wouldn't be bullied into submission? I use the word bullied because of the extraordinarily aggressive and contemptuous attitude displayed on that night to the upstanding and honest members of the branch who have no agenda outside the best interest of the branch and Comhaltas. They all have day jobs and are outstanding volunteers in their own time.

Despite the thousands of words written by Breandain on this and other sites he has not explained why it was necessary to dissolve (collectively punish) the whole branch and that is the most serious issue for all members of CCE


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,maggie boyle
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 06:58 PM

Here is the Clontarf Branch response to the CCE statement, a fuller version of which can be found here http://www.cluaintarbh.net/

Statement of Clontarf branch of Comhaltas 29 March 2008

Clontarf branch of Comhaltas rejects outright the version of events/statement issued yesterday by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. The statement is as mischievous as it is inaccurate and represents one more attempt by Comhaltas HQ to muddy the waters to cover up their own improper actions in dissolving the Branch and in taking over our CLASAC centre project.

Clontarf branch has been teaching traditional music in Dublin for 45 years. Clontarf conceived CLASAC as a world-class centre for the performance, teaching and fostering of traditional music.

Clontarf has led the development for the past 15 years, including acquiring the site, running many fundraising activities, securing public funding for the project, obtaining planning permission and managing the building project to completion. A professional design team has successfully controlled all costs.

For the past two years, during the building phase, the branch worked closely with HQ. However, it became progressively clear in recent months that their main interest was to take control of centre after the hard work was done and the building was ready to open.

At the eleventh hour HQ withdrew their support for previously agreed bank loans that had been successfully negotiated to cover all outstanding project costs. They then blamed us for not having the funding in place to pay contractors and used this as their excuse to take the centre from us.

In a further step in their campaign against the branch, they used the issue of repayment of VAT as a pretext for dissolving the branch. At all stages the branch acted with the benefit of professional tax advice, and the actions in relation to the VAT refund were vindicated in writing by the Revenue Commissioners. Allegations of any irregularities in relation to the VAT refund can only be treated as malicious as Comhaltas HQ were the original promoters of the refund, they agreed to the application process and supplied most of the information required.

In making key decisions against the interests of the branch, Comhaltas HQ withheld vital information from the Central Executive Council, they refused to allow the branch make their case directly and they refused the branch any avenue of appeal. Furthermore, all requests by the branch to meet representatives of HQ to try and resolve the difficulties were rejected.

Branch members are incensed by their treatment and what they see as bullying and intimidatory tactics by HQ and by the continual distortion of the facts by them, including the latest press statement. At the most recent general meeting of the branch on 19 March the members unanimously endorsed the actions of the Branch executive committee and rejected the dissolution.

The branch activities will continue as normal, including the very significant teaching programme for children. Many messages of support have been received from Comhaltas branches at home and abroad and from the wider traditional music community

The Branch demands to be reinstated and the return of the Clasac project. Justice and fair play demand nothing less.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:15 PM

Between the revolt of the GDR, the earlier "ethnic cleansing" reference and so forth, I'm starting to think that, as someone with fairly progressive politics, I must have signed up for the wrong team ...

To clarify. I have not claimed to be completely disinterested - I work for Comhaltas, after all. However, I am posting on my own time and I am certainly not being paid nor asked to speak out. I merely saw a situation in which there are probably fewer than 10 people with a true sense of what's been happening over the last year. Since most of those people are on the former Craobh Chluain Tarbh committee and are now making lots and lots of anti-Comhaltas noise, it seemed useful for me to present some facts being omitted, and also correct some misapprehensions which they seem to have no problem in allowing. For example, members of the committee have stated several times that the theatre was always a Comhaltas building, on a Comhaltas site. But the rehetoric continues to revolve around the big meanies in "head office" stealing a building from the hard-working branch. That simply isn't true.

I have some serious misgivings about what has happened, and (as I have said) would criticise especially the communications between the Ardchomhairle, the Buncoiste and the Branch Executive and Branch Membership as areas of concern. I also think that there was a disconnect between the branch executive and the membership. I'm not personally sure why this was handled at Ardchomhairle level rather than within the Dublin County Board, which would have answered any potential issues around representation. I know that it was a difficult decision. I have friends in the branch; I also have friends on the Ardchomhairle. Labhrás Ó Murchú is my direct boss, but it doesn't mean that I support every decision he's ever made. I would personally vote for an amendment to the Bunreacht (the Comhaltas constitution) that allowed for an appeal or arbitration of dissolution. But this is an area in which thoughtful people can differ, and when tensions are high, it's hard to trust even eye-witness accounts.

For example, I heard the story of the EGM in quite a different way than kevink presents. But I wasn't there, and it's obvious that people can disagree, even when they were there. I'm a full-time student in Limerick at the moment, and don't have the full inside track on what happened, especially in February. However, being aware of the conflict over a period of a year, I can perfectly imagine the branch committee digging in their heels and leaving the County Board and the Ardchomhairle no choice when it came to getting contractors paid. I personally do not think that the former committee acted in the best interests of their branch or their parent organisation.

As I have said many times, I have nothing but respect and admiration for the hard work of the Clontarf branch members. They have built and maintained an outstanding branch organisation and accomplished some very difficult large-scale projects in the past. Anyone who thinks it's easy to organise a tour of high-quality Irish dance and music in China hasn't tried it. In this particular case, I think that many members have been given false or misleading information. That, along with our shared and very natural mistrust of centralised authority, has led to a schism which I desperately hope we can find a solution for.

If you're sick of hearing from me, I'm more than happy to leave it to an echo chamber of quotes from the Clontarf website. But with so few people involved, and so few of those online, it seemed to me helpful to chime in. I'm even naive enough to hope that I can continue my relationships with those in the branch.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Sean Murphy
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:28 PM

Clontarf branch has now issued a reply to the Comhaltas HQ press release, downloadable at http://www.cluaintarbh.net/index.htm, and from which I take the liberty of quoting:

Clontarf branch has been teaching traditional music in Dublin for 45 years. Clontarf conceived CLASAC as a world-class centre for the performance, teaching and fostering of traditional music.

Clontarf has led the development for the past 15 years, including acquiring the site, running many fundraising activities, securing public funding for the project, obtaining planning permission and managing the building project to completion. A professional design team has successfully controlled all costs.

For the past two years, during the building phase, the branch worked closely with HQ. However, it became progressively clear in recent months that their main interest was to take control of centre after the hard work was done and the building was ready to open.

At the eleventh hour HQ withdrew their support for previously agreed bank loans that had been successfully negotiated to cover all outstanding project costs. They then blamed us for not having the funding in place to pay contractors and used this as their excuse to take the centre from us.

In a further step in their campaign against the branch, they used the issue of repayment of VAT as a pretext for dissolving the branch. At all stages the branch acted with the benefit of professional tax advice, and the actions in relation to the VAT refund were vindicated in writing by the Revenue Commissioners. Allegations of any irregularities in relation to the VAT refund can only be treated as malicious as Comhaltas HQ were the original promoters of the refund, they agreed to the application process and supplied most of the information required.

(End quote)

As an independent observer and non-member of Comhaltas I suggest the following steps: (1) The dissolution of Clontarf branch should be reversed. (2) An agreed arbitrator should be appointed to adjudicate on the differences between the parties. (3) Following the adjudicator's report, an

Sean Murphy


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Frances
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:40 PM

Breandain

Well I'm sure Breandan you will have a jolly good relationship with the new imposed committee. I leave you to it.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Sean Murphy
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:43 PM

Completion of my suggestions, sent inadvertently without final point:

As an independent observer and non-member of Comhaltas (but occasional tune player) I suggest the following steps: (1) The dissolution of Clontarf branch should be reversed. (2) An agreed arbitrator should be appointed to adjudicate on the differences between the parties. (3) Following the adjudicator's report, Clontarf branch and HQ should agree a new committee to complete the Clasac project in line with recommendations (sensibly both parties should nominate at least a few new faces to minimise personal antipathies).

Sean Murphy


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 30 Mar 08 - 07:46 PM

Breandán,

While I have not agreed with everything you have said in your various posts on this matter, I think you have made an invaluable contribution to the debate and would think it would be a pity if you withdrew from this thread at this stage. You have a perspective which is, I think largely coloured by your involvement in Head Office, but you make your points well and articulately. It is a pity that HQ did not employ your talents in drafting the official statement, as I think you might have come up with a form of words that make more sense. You might even know the meaning of the words modus operandi and have used them, if at all, in a meaningful context.

That said I believe that, whatever the rights and wrongs of the running of the project that the Branch Mambership have been badly treated in this case, and the dissolution of the branch, as opposed to the Branch Committee was uncalled for. I am not familiar with the specific rules of Comhaltas and therefore don't know if dissolving the Committeee only was an option. In saying this I'm not necessarily accepting the premise that the running of the project warranted the dissolution of the committee either.

One final point on the Official statement - the statement that substantial fundraising from the Branch was not forthcoming is extremely dismissive of the massive fundraising efforts made by the Branch. While obviously EUR150,000 was a small amount in the context of the overall project cost, it is not an insignificant amount of money raised by a Branch of this size. I know you have acknowledged this fact in your earlier posts, but the statement fails to do so. I'm not sure what level of fundraising the Ardcomhairle would have conisdered subsantial, but the expectation of a much bigger sum of money seems a bit unreasonable to me.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 03:28 AM

That seems to be it as far as Comhaltas is concerned:
Another expulsion; a newly appointed committee, an extremely reluctant, long-coming and unconvincing explanation, full of unsubstantiated accusations - no representation by the branch, no appeal - done and dusted!
Personally I'm grateful for Breandán's guidance through the tangled, murky world that is CCE politics, and his advice on which bits of the explanation to heed and which to take with a grain of salt - "That's not what they meant to say" !!!!!
I'm also grateful for - "The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist" whatever it meant.
Thanks too for Ard Mhaca's - 1979 was "a long time ago".
I have to say, if I had children I was wishing to introduce to Irish traditional music, I would keep them as far away as possible from all this; soon enough they would be introduced to the cynical and ruthless world of spin, opportunism and wheeler-dealing that seems to go with this side of the music.
Thankfully, we have a healthy scene here, with youngsters coming to the music for the love of it and in several cases, taking classes themselves - all without the aid of CCE and what seems to go with it.
I hope there is a good session in town tonight so I can get rid of this unpleasant taste in my mouth.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 05:53 AM

Thanks again Brendan you should go into politics , no sorry, from your so clear explanations of a sorry mess, and not an angry word or insult, you seem to be too honest for such a professon.
Brendan don`t leave this Thread your contribution has been valuable.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 07:22 AM

I agree (again - gosh, that's twice!) with Ard Mhacha. Though my sympathies are with the branch and I remain highly critical of the actions taken by HQ, it is essential to have a sane voice from the opposition explaining things with clarity, patience, and tact, and this Breandán has done. If we are to stay fully informed in this debate - which is essential - it means that communication from both sides must be kept open. That's all the more important here because this is one of the most high-profile debates about this matter on the internet, and it gets prominent display in the search engines. The fact that Breandán has managed to bat for the Away team and keep our goodwill speaks volumes of credit for him. Interesting, though, that we seem to hear only ONE voice defending HQ's actions.

In fact this thread has stayed blessedly and remarkably flame-free (no small accomplishment such a volatile issue) so all its contributors should take a bow for intelligent discussion.

My own judgement has been clearly summed up by Sean Murphy, in particular that an independent arbitrator should intervene. When one side appears to have the power to do exactly as it pleases without due democratic process, it's time to call in the ombudsman.

Jim's right too - trad music is alive and flourishing in this country, independently of any organisation. For all its wonderful services, Comhaltas needs the musicians more than they need it. Time for Larry and Co to peek out of their ivory tower and listen to what the people are saying, which we can now do instantly and internationally via the internet. A wake-up call if ever there was one.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 07:35 AM

>it's time to call in the ombudsman

Someone with NO political affiliations to any of the major parties, if this is possible.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,dubsman
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 07:44 AM

Dr. Paisley's free soon!!!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,fursey
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 08:29 AM

Finally a response from Comhaltas HQ -even if it's a belated and mean-spirited one.

The local committee, we are told, was expected "through fundraising to make a substantial contribution". The Senator tells us that, "this never materialised."

Well, that's telling us! A lesson for all the mammies and daddies out there who bought the raffle tickets, sold the concert tickets, gave of their time and energies for free. It's a slap in the face for those, young and old, amateur and professional, who played, sang and dance at the many fundraising concerts to benefit Clasach, to those who paid as punters to raise €200,000 for the local committee. Just not good enough.... according to Labhrás.

Does'nt it just make you want to re-double your efforts for the "movement"?

And then we read that CCE tells the best selling newspaper in Ireland that they have not published accounts for the last few years (was that you too Breandán?). This from yesterday's Sunday Independent in an article headed "Bitter row erupts over funding for trad centre".

"Comhaltas Director General Labhras O Murchu has been criticised by some members of the music organisation for operating a "cult of secrecy" at Comhaltas, particularly in regards to its financial situation.

Comhaltas receives significant funding from the Government. In 2007 it received €6m for its capital development programme. The Sunday Independent asked for a copy of the annual accounts for the past couple of years but was told "there aren't any". The paper also asked for details into payment of salary of senior management, including Mr O Murchu, but no information was given".


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 08:45 AM

I think this link bears an instant-replay:

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/bitter-row-erupts-over-funding-for-trad-


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 09:02 AM

Bonnie don`t get me wrong I am not backing anyone, when a barrage of one-sided criticism is directed at one person namely Brendan it make sense to hear the opposing view, I think Brendan has been clear and precise.
I would have no problem with everyone agreeing to vote on this, may it happen soon, but in the meantime the oul fiddles flutes pipes, and combs in paper continue to rattle out at my local Comhaltas.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 10:59 AM

Let me join in with those urging Breandan not to leave the discussion. He has stayed the right course with his message, done so with an even temper, and his posts have been valuable.

As to the flourishing trad arts community, independent of any organization ......... what did you expect? The trad arts in Ireland have survived immigration, starvation, and oppression from a determined aggressor. They are a part of Ireland's children, and her grandchildren abroad. No organization is bigger than the music, and thus it shall ever be.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 11:08 AM

I second that, ard mhacha. I'm not a member of CCE but have friends who are (all on the south side of the city, though). Some members in HQ may have shot themselves in the foot on this occasion, but that shouldn't negate the many good activities being carried out by the organisation.

IMHO, some of the contributions above have generated more heat than light, with plainly emotional but inaccurate statements, but I always found Breadán's contributions welcome (which doesn't mean I agree with everything he says!).

I suppose that for the foreseeable future, mirroring a famous split in the past, we're going to have a Clontarf (Official Branch) and Clontarf (Provisional Branch)?

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 02:00 PM

Well, I'm still here, though I wouldn't have a lot to add at the moment, now that we've had the duelling press releases from Comhaltas and Clontarf. Perhaps the new committee will chime in with a third. I'm very much interested, of course, in seeing how the new committee unites the branch, or tries to. Of course, my branch always seems to lose to Clontarf in the Grúpai Cheoil competitions at the Dublin Fleadh every year, so maybe I should welcome this turmoil ... or maybe now we'll come in 3rd. :-)

Anyway, no, I didn't speak to the Indo this week, and I'd say (having read the article) that they didn't do a huge amount of research. Quoting from press releases on either side is generally pretty bad journalistic practice, and I wouldn't want them taking Comhaltas' version as gospel any more than I'd want them taking Clontarf's. Journalism should be a bit more responsible than that. They're incorrect in stating that the dissolution was a decision of Senator Ó Murchú, and there are some other details wrong, but in general they seemed to just compare the two statements and write it up.

In particular, the annual accounts quote is a bit unfair. Comhaltas' accounts are published yearly at the Annual Congress and presented to representatives from every branch, county/region and province who cares to turn up. The accounts are not made public, though - very similar to other non-profit organisations such as Na Píobairí Uilleann. Ditto with staff salaries - these aren't generally a matter of public record in any other non-profit. (Yes, I know what Senator Ó Murchú makes, and no, I'm not telling you. :-) It's reasonable for the Director-General position of a major arts organisation, though, and I made a lot more than he does before I joined the staff of Comhaltas.)

Suffice to say that this sort of thing is under the administration of the Ardchomhairle, which is a group of 31 volunteers from around the world who are not paid for their service to Comhaltas. (Yes, I know they generally get some expenses paid for when they travel to the Fleadh Cheoil. And they'll get some tea when they're meeting at the Cultúrlann.) Money stuff and salary is generally controlled by the organisation's Treasurer, of course, and almost all expenditures (including salary checks) are double-signed by a member of staff and a member of the elected executive. Having been in lots of meetings with the Senator, I can assure you that he is extremely conscious of the government auditor, and all procedures on the money side are designed to bear scrutiny on whatever level, should it arise.

Anyway, in case anyone is feeling the need for some self-importance, I can report that when I was in Dublin this weekend I saw print-outs of this thread lying around Comhaltas Head Office. :-)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 02:01 PM

Big Mick, I agree with all you say, I have listened, took part and enjoyed traditional song and music before Comhaltas came to the fore, and I hope to continue doing so well into the future. Thanks Gulliver.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Fergie
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 03:39 PM

Hi all,
I just received an email from a friend that is a member of the Clontarf branch, he tells me that there is a fundraiser for the "branch" in the Teachers Club in Dublin on Friday, he provided me with this link that announced the event and also explains their take on the matter (hope the link works)

http://www.cluaintarbh.net/

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,jimmartin81
Date: 31 Mar 08 - 07:58 PM

'Fergie', I put that link on the BBC Radio 2 'Folk & Acoustic' message board (as well as the CCE HQ one), but so far, no responses from readers/contributors!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Sean Murphy
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:27 AM

The coldest comment so far here remains: 'The former Cluain Tarbh branch, at this point, has been dissolved, so does not exist.' Note that Comhaltas HQ has purged not just a few individuals, or a committee, but apparently a whole branch. I have yet to get up and view the building, but I understand that the Clasach Centre in Clontarf is substantially complete, and had there been serious local mismanagement, one would have expected simply a hole in the ground or just a few walls standing. I have been in Monkstown, and admit to harbouring a suspicion that HQ might like to get its hands on more salubrious premises, but no doubt this is entirely uncharitable. Having no connection or contact with the 'dissolved' people, I reiterate my suggestion that the dissolution of the Clontarf Branch should be reversed and an arbitrator brought in. Finally, whatever the outcome of the affair, I think the establishment in Comhaltas has received something of a shock, and may now feel that it has to be more transparent in its operations, particularly with regard to its finances and salaries paid to officials.

Sean Murphy
Irish Historical Mysteries http://homepage.eircom.net/%7Eseanjmurphy/irhismys/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:23 AM

Uncharitable or not, I have wondered the same thing (my post 16 Mar 08 - 09:37 AM). I don't know enough about the brief of the ombudsman - who appears in fact to be an ombudswoman - but that recourse may only be applicable to government departments and local authorities; nor am I sure how complicated the political affiliations make things (i.e. does Fianna Fáil investigate Fianna Fáil?) but there must be some external arbitrator the branch can turn to. (European Court of Human Rights?)

It's not even a deadlock, either, it's a fait accompli from what I read, which can only mean taking firm legal action. Presumably the ex-branch is formulating some plan of defense, though I suppose it's hardly surprising that they prefer not to spill it to all and sundry on the net, hence their relative silence.   

Breandán wrote "...now that we've had the duelling press releases from Comhaltas and Clontarf [,] Perhaps the new committee will chime in with a third."

Good point. WHY DON'T THEY? As usual the silence is speaking louder than the words.

Don't know if this is relevant to this case or not but:

http://ombudsman.gov.ie/en/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:24 AM

Sean, in the structure of a member-based organisation, the local executive committee *is* the branch. And like most structures with substantial local autonomy, the only pressure available to the centralised elected committee is to exclude the local committee from the organisation. There are no other options. There is no way to get a local committee to do the right thing, other than by asking nicely, which the ardchomhairle has beeing trying to do for a very long time.

Much of the project has been managed quite well, though I think the committee spent a little too much time arguing over the precise shade of blue for the letterhead and a little less time than necessary trying to get the required funding in place.

And obviously there are no plans for Comhaltas to move staff from the Cultúrlann in Monkstown out to Clasaċ, which is a performance venue and teaching space. The building was already owned by Comhaltas - there would be no reason to dissolve the branch if headquarters inexplicably wanted to move.

(I also think it's a bit unfair to single out one of my sentences, out of the thousands of words written trying to explain this situation clearly. That sentence was written to distinguish, on a technical level, between the old and new committees.)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:44 AM

I really wasn't trying to selectively single it out, and my apologies if I misinterpreted your meaning out of context. It just seemed to make a straightforward statement, prompting a question any of us can ask off our own bats anyway. But it still needs answering.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:48 AM

Bonnie, sorry - I was posting in response to Sean's quote, and didn't see your post until after I posted. :-)

Anyway, I believe that the new committee is running classes and so forth - I wouldn't be surprised if they want to stay out of the political fray.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 09:44 AM

Breandan, what are you telling us now that you haven't already said before?   

- "The only pressure available to the centralised elected committee is to exclude the local committee from the organisation". In other words, head office is allowed to kick the branch committee out and there's nothing they can do about it.   Yes, we know that already.

- "There are no other options" speaks for itself. But there should be. Having no checks and balances in an organisation allows for misuse of power.

- "There is no way to get a local committee to do the right thing". So head office gets to decide what the right thing is and apply force/expulsion if they don't get it.

- "I think the committee spent a little too much time arguing over the precise shade of blue for the letterhead and a little less time than necessary trying to get the required funding in place."

Which committee is this referring to? Do you mean the head office one? Not spending enough time trying to get the required funding in place sounds serious enough to warrant more attention than half a sentence. If they didn't do this they are at least partly culpable.

Basically this is just a re-tread of everything we've already heard. So what's new?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 09:53 AM

If the local executive committee *is* the branch, then what are all the people who paid dues to belong to it?

Who are all the mammies and daddies out there who bought the raffle tickets, sold the concert tickets, gave of their time and energies for free that Fursey speaks of?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 10:10 AM

Proper procedure was not followed in dissolving the Clontarf Branch. This is very obvious when we read all the correspondence. Brendán of course is very clear and reasonable in the arguements and comments he makes - except when he conveniently overlooks some vital points.

There is no provision in the Bunreacht to dissolve a committee.
The branch can only be dissolved by the County committee of C.C.E.

Even IF the Branch HAD been dissolved according to the rules, then the next step , I presume would be to:
1. Inform all previous existing members , giving proper notice (21 days), of a meeting to establish a new branch.
2. At that meeting, hold proper elections to all posts , i.e. Chairperson, Secretary, Treasurer, Delegates to Co. Board
3. A full report of the meeting tent forward to the next level, i.e Co. Board
It is my contention that if points 1 and 2 had not been followed then the new Committee is illegally constituted and of course by extension, the Branch.
A starting point to resolve this very serious situation is to reinstate the Branch.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,goofy
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 12:05 PM

Q


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:39 PM

I don't like to wander too much into the land of legalese, but there are a couple of inaccuracies that I should point out in recent posts. The upshot being that while I don't personally like the fact that the branch was dissolved, the procedures followed were constitutional and democratic.

Firstly, Knight, I'm not sure where you got that particular procedure, but it certainly isn't found in the Comhaltas constitution (Bunreacht). That document actually doesn't provide any guidance at all as to what happens to a branch after it has been dissolved. And beyond providing for an appeal from the County to Provincial level, it also does not specify an appeal procedure for a dissolved branch. It does, however, make it clear that the high council (the ardchomhairle) is responsible for and has jurisdiction over the entire organisation in disciplinary matters. This is reasonable: the council is composed of 31 elected voluntary officers who are accountable to their home districts.

The relevant bit of the constitution is here:

"The CEC (ardchomhairle) shall be the supreme governing body of An Comhaltas from Annual Congress to Annual Congress and the sole and final authority to interpret the Rules and Constitution. Its jurisdiction shall extend over the whole Organisation in all matters of discipline as well as those that pertain to funds, investments and property of An Comhaltas. It shall carry out the proper exercise of this jurisdiction through its Trustees."

I personally would be happy to amend these rules to require that a) the branch is directly represented in the room during the discussion, and b) that there would be the provision for a separate grievance council responsible for resolving disputes, to which the dissolution could be appealed. However, those facilities are not in place in the constitution at the moment. I invite anyone interested to submit these amendments at the next Annual Congress, composed of representatives from all branches and councils.

Also, the new branch executive was properly convened according to the constitution, and has been accepted as such by the Dublin County Board. The relevant bit for the creation of a branch is here:

"A Branch of An Comhaltas may be established anywhere, provided that:
(a) Not less than five persons inform the County Board, or Provincial Council where no County Board exists, of their intention to establish a Branch, to support the Aims and Objects of An Comhaltas and abide by its Rules and Constitution;
(b) The necessary sanction for the establishment of a Branch has been obtained from the County Board or the Provincial Council as the case may be."

So while things have certainly not turned out the way I would have wanted things to happen, these procedures were legal according to the Comhaltas constitution. I'm still hoping for another resolution, one that perhaps involves some members of the former committee. This schism in Clontarf isn't good for either the branch nor the organisation, and I'd like to see a way to resolve things amicably.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:49 PM

To answer your question, Bonnie, at present the members of the dissolved branch are unafilliated members of Comhaltas. The Dublin County Board has indicated that all such members will be granted full Comhaltas membership benefits, for example with regard to Fleadh entries. Any who wish to remain affiliated with Comhaltas at the conclusion of the membership year in October will of course be very welcome in the new branch and its activities.

And PJ, when I referred to the committee spending too much time on the letterhead, I was referring to the dissolved branch committee. The letterhead looks very nice now, but I would have preferred that they spent some time beginning in February 2007 making sure that they could finish the building.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,fursey
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 01:53 PM

Hearty congratulations to Senator O' Murchu on his astounding success in thoroughly alienating some of the most significant families involved in music in Dublin - the O'Brien's,O'Connnors, Kelly's, Glackin's, Mulligan's.... The line up for the Concert in The Teachers Club, Parnell Sq, Dublin on Friday next to support the(wrongfully dissolved) Clontarf Branch includes musicians from these legendary northside Dublin families along with many other fine performers. By their friends shall ye know them!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:21 PM

>these procedures were legal according to the Comhaltas constitution.

I don't doubt that the procedures were legal. But legality does not mean justice. It simply means there's no law against it. That doesn't make it right.

Constitutional? You can bet your bloody boots they were constitutional. "The CEC (ardchomhairle) shall be the supreme governing body of An Comhaltas from Annual Congress to Annual Congress and the sole and final authority to interpret the Rules and Constitution. Its jurisdiction shall extend over the whole Organisation." No kidding.

I do doubt that they were democratic by any definition of the word except the one Comhaltas chooses to put on it. Democratic means by the will of the majority.

"Does not specify an appeal procedure" is a fancy way of saying that there isn't one.

That last CCE post boils down to "We can because we say we can." Of course it's legal. The whole point is that they can do something like this and GET AWAY WITH IT.

What this shows is that it's time to make the balance of power more fair.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM

PJ, I would say that I am more in your court than not, but are not the members of the Ardchomhairle not elected from the branches by popular vote? And are they not accountable back to their members for the decisions they make?

One of the things that drives me nuts in democratic processes is when folks don't take an interest in, or take seriously the elections for delegates to governing bodies, and then when that body acts on its constitutional duties, they cry about returning the organization to the members. This is a generic gripe, because I have seen it in many venues. Seems like it fits here.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:37 PM

Simple question Breandán- does the Clontarf branch have a right to appeal the expulsion decision (decided on in camera)?
If it does, what is it - if it doesn't, why not?
There certainly was no such right in West London - but as somebody said, that was a long time ago.
When the West London Branch was expelled it was a (crude but) simple case of them refusing to have O'Murchú's politics thrust down their throats - never any pretence that it was ever anything else.
Here is somewhat different, with large sums of money and property involved.
In the present climate here in Ireland, of corruption tribunals which go right to the top of the pile, is it not in the interest of CCE that justice is not only done, but is seen to be done, especially when much of the money in question comes out of the public purse?
So far, the whole affair has been conducted with the secrecy of a Freemason's Lodge, which indicates that the leadership appears to believe that they are not answerable to the membership on such an important decision as a branch expulsion (or maybe they feel that the subject isn't so important!!!.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Frances
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:43 PM

I find the response of Ard Mhaca to the gross injustice suffered by the Clontarf branch is patronising to say the least. If you have any association with Ard Mhaca as your web name suggests you should know what it feels like to be kicked around, as the nationalist people of Ard Mhacha have been in the past. Well that's exactly what has happened to the Clontarf Branch - an injustice is an injustice wherever it occurs. It would appear that some people's opinions on the Clontarf dissolution are coloured by Labhras' nationalist credentials, right wing as they are. While this should not be of any importance in this discussion I believe it does influence some contributors. I do not remember Labhras speaking out when released republican prisoners were being hunted down and extradited like animals across the border as occurred on numerous occasions despite the widespread knowledge that prisoners were being brutally mistreated in the north. Times may have changed but injustice whatever its source has not, and it should be rejected by all decent minded people. A kangaroo court is a kangaroo court whosoever administers it. Yes, we can all enjoy our tunes but let us not patronize or obscure what has happened in relation to the dissolution of Clontarf Comhaltas.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 02:59 PM

Jim, as I said, the constitution doesn't provide for an appeal past the level of the ardchomhairle. However, as you say, there is a huge impetus to make sure that justice is done, and the ardchomhairle recognised in their statement that the members of the branch had not had a chance to exercise their constitutional powers of voting. According to the ardchomhairle statement, it is because the Clontarf committee did not convene meetings, while according to the Clontarf committee, it is because the ardchomhairle ignored them. Either way, there are two sides here that need, somehow, to be brought together. I would personally support bringing some members from the old committee into the new one, and to quickly constitute the Clasac theatre's board with the number of members from Clontarf that were tentatively agreed at the time. This outcome is not outside the realm of possibility, I'm told, and would probably ease the tensions a bit.

Anyway, while there are large sums of money involved here, I believe that there has not been the slightest hint of impropriety or corruption with respect to those funds on either side. The issue is around management of the construction project, which is a local issue. I would think it unlikely, therefore, that this will turn into a legal case, since the proper ownership of the building and the use of the grant money has been stipulated by both sides. What I do hope will happen, though, is that a bridge can be constructed between the divided members of the Clontarf branch. That's what would be best both for the musicians and students involved, and for the reputation of the branch and for Comhaltas generally.

(As an aside: as I heard the story, the West London imbroglio was about statements made in the press by the branch, not the Pearse campaign itself. But I definitely wasn't there, nor do I know much about it. Most organisations are pretty sensitive when it comes to public statements made by local units that are critical of the parent, including trade unions, professional associations and so forth. But like I said, I wasn't there.)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 03:02 PM

Big Mick - You have a very good point about the democratic process. But I think the real point is that the core structure of the rules needs to be changed so that NO governing body has such absolute power. A final authority that allows no redress is too out of balance.

The high council may have been democratically elected by the grass-roots members (or maybe not - I'm not sure how the selection process is actually structured) BUT once in power the committee can then do what it likes. I think that power needs some limitation.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 03:08 PM

Representatives to the ardchomhairle are elected in the usual way, yes, with a nomination, a second and a vote. And as I've said, I would invite anyone with a suggested amendment to make to the Comhaltas constitution to bring it before the annual congress, when representatives from all branches can present and vote on such amendments.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 03:34 PM

On the question of the Ombudsman, the Comhaltas is a private organisation and doen not come in the remit of the Ombudsman, who is charged with investigation of complaints from members of the public into Public Service organisations.

I'm sure there are many figures from within the traditional music community who would be able to act as an arbitrator in seeking to resolve the dispute if the Árd Comhairle were prepared to go down that road. However they seem to be so convinced that their actions were correct that I think it is unlikely they would be preared to do so.

I'm glad to see that Breandán acknowledges that there is no implications of financial improprietry on either side. However the wording of the Comhaltas statement is such that it could be interpreted as implying that there were.

I think it would be useful for the Ard comhairle to clarify their position on this.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 05:18 PM

Aye Frances I could write a book on the happenings up here in God`s country, so I am not unduly put out by the goings on in Clontarf.
I still say Brendan has presented his case very well, the original board must take the blame for the financial blunders, well that is what they look like to me, going in over their heads by the sound of it, so you let them continue on their merry way?, I don`t think so.
I would be pleased to hear some of the old branch come on hear and try and explain the reason why.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,knight_high
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 06:51 PM

Ah Breandán please!!!
You quote one rule and conveniently avoid another - exactly as I said in my previous post
You posted this:
_____________________
"The CEC (ardchomhairle) shall be the supreme governing body of An Comhaltas from Annual Congress to Annual Congress and the sole and final authority to interpret the Rules and Constitution. Its jurisdiction shall extend over the whole Organisation in all matters of discipline as well as those that pertain to funds, investments and property of An Comhaltas. It shall carry out the proper exercise of this jurisdiction through its Trustees."
_____________________
And ignored this:
________________________
POWERS AND DUTIES (of County Board)
4 (c) The County Board shall have the right to suspend any branch, and/or remove from office, a branch officer or officers, where it has been clearly established that the branch or officers of the branch are guilty of conduct which is deemed to be contrary to the ideals and objects of An Comhaltas, as enshrined in this Constitution, and is calculated to bring An Comhaltas into disrepute. Where a branch is suspended, the County Board shall for the time being be empowered to exercise all the functions of the said branch. A branch or officer so suspended shall have the right of appeal to the Provincial Council
___________
At no stage is it mentioned in the Bunreacht that any other body can suspend or dissolve a branch. I assume it would be in the interests of natural justice to give the (ex)membership of the branch proper notice to reestablish a(the) branch in the Clontarf area and give those hardworking parents, musicians and all involved, a chance to elect the committe to represent them.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:07 PM

Knight:

You are correct - the county board also has the right to dissolve a branch. If that decision is appealed, it goes to the Provincial Council. Though it is not explicitly specified, an appeal from that body would presumably go to the Ardchomhairle. However, no matter the powers explicitly enumerated to the County Board, I believe that the quote I mentioned (explicitly giving the Ardchomhairle jurisdiction over "all matters of discipline") is pretty unambiguous - the Ardchomhairle, as the highest body, definitely has the right to take that step.

Regarding natural justice, as it happens, I believe that all branch members have been notified about the new branch being formed, and of the opportunity to participate. I wouldn't personally be at all averse to the new branch deciding to hold special elections, just to enhance the legitimacy of the new group.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,knight_high
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:47 PM

Regarding amendments to the Constitution if you want to submit an amendment you better hurry. See this rule
_____________________

10 Proposals for the amendment of this Constitution shall be put before Congress in 1996 and at six yearly intervals thereafter.
______________________________
I make that 2008. If not then the next opportunity is 2014!!
Most Co. AGM'S are over by now.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM

WHY do they only allow changes to be proposed every six years? That sounds draconian. What's the reason for not allowing this safeguard annually? Oh, wait, I know...

Because the Constitution says so.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 07:57 PM

2014 - the millennial anniversary of the original Battle of Clontarf. - How appropriate.

While a rule change looks as if it would be a good idea, one is not required to resolve this controversy. What is needed is some generosity on the part of the Ard Comhairle to bring about a situation where the former Brnach members are no longer disenfranchised and control of Classach ie returned to a set of represntatives who are acceptable to those members.   Anything else is a denial of democracy, no matter what the rules say.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,maggie boyle
Date: 01 Apr 08 - 08:09 PM

Hello Breandan,
I am baffled by your statement here (1st April) to Jim i.e. "the constitution doesn't provide for an appeal past the level of the ardchomhairle". Is not 'ardchomhairle' the Central Executive Committee? Who else would the the branch wish to appeal to other than those who have ejected it, the governing body of CCE? Have I got something wrong?
Please explain.
If, as you say - and I have reason to believe - that there is provision in the Bunreacht to appeal to the ardchomhairle, then the branch should know about it, and be allowed time to act on it. Their website states that they were given no right of appeal.

Maggie


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 02:58 AM

"I believe that there has not been the slightest hint of impropriety or corruption with respect to those funds on either side"
We have no way of knowing if that is the case - it's all been done behind closed doors.
Why do the terms 'kangaroo court', summary justice' and 'self- interest' keep springing to mind?
As you say, you weren't in West London - that was done behind closed doors as well.
If it had been an employer in the work-place behaving like this, he would pretty soon find himself before a tribunal facing a charge of wrongful dismissal - is there anybody here who believes that 'justice has been seen to be done' - apart from Breandán and ard mhacha, that is?
The fact that there is no recourse to appeal flies in the face of natural justice- feudal or what?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 04:51 AM

Where can we see a copy of this Constitution? Surely it's available for public viewing. How does one get to read it? And if it's not accessible, why not?

If this info is given above, I've managed to miss it though I briefly reread the thread, and did word-searches for Constitution, copy, and Bunreacht. Nothing on the website either.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:20 AM

You'll find it at http://comhaltas.ie/press_room/detail/comhaltas_constitution_bunreacht/


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,maggie boyle
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 09:34 AM

Thanks Observer,
I have tried there before.
Despite it saying "AN BUNREACHT....This online document is a copy of the English version of the Bunreacht (Constitution) of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, and is provided for reference only" the only information it seems to access is how to pronounce 'bunreacht'!

Breandan, I'm sure as webmaster that you can help with this - and, regardless, I'd very much appreciate a response to my question above (1st April 8.09) about your statement "the constitution doesn't provide for an appeal past the level of the ardchomhairle"
Thanks
Maggie


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 12:15 PM

Maggie, that's the right page, just keep scrolling down.

http://comhaltas.ie/press_room/detail/comhaltas_constitution_bunreacht/

The reason it's marked "for reference only" and so forth is because I can't swear that it includes all changes that have been made at annual congress and so forth -- but it's correct as far as I know.

As far as appeals, the Ardchomhairle is the highest level of government in Comhaltas, so any appeal would be from a lower level up *to* that body. Since it was the elected governing council itself that made the ruling on dissolution, there are no further appeals possible. Like a case that was decided by the US Supreme Court - it could be sent back down to an appellate level by the high court (just as the Ardchomhairle could delegate to a provincial council if it wished), but if the Supreme Court makes a ruling, that's it.

Both in procedure and in hierarchy, this structure is extremely similar to many other membership-based organisations, including professional associations, unions, international standards bodies, political parties and so forth. And as Mick says, it's very common for the democratic links between levels (the delegates) to be ignored until there's a problem, at which point suddenly everyone wants to question the rules.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM

And so the question would be, were all the steps followed, including those that give the branch its opportunity to put forth its position? Also, is there any point in the process in which the appeal is heard by an independent voice? The parallel in the civil setting would be a civil court, or in US labor, the NLRB?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 12:37 PM

Yes, the branch was notified in writing and given the chance to present their case. They were also required to convene a general meeting of the membership during this time, which they did not do. Representatives of the Ardchomhairle attended other meetings that were called before and after the notice to listen to the branch's concerns, and the materials prepared by the branch were read. Some of the requested documentation concerning the VAT refund was not provided by the branch despite being requested in writing.

Similar to the US Supreme Court, the defending side is not generally in the room during the discussion itself, which lasted 8 hours and was fully attended by the 31 members of the council.

Irish music is not organised to the extent that US labour is, so there isn't the equivalent to the NLRB. Since we're talking about a private non-profit membership organisation, the only (and therefore worst) penalty that can be imposed is expulsion from the organisation. It is a penalty of last-resort, used just a couple of times in the 50+-year history of the organisation, and is imposed only after a period of more amicable discussion has broken down. In this case, over a long period of time the Clasac committee ran with the project while not taking the advice of the Ardchomhairle and trustees of Comhaltas. While branches are largely self-governing, they are still under the jurisdiction of the central council when it comes to money.

(One wonders, actually, why it is that if Comhaltas is so terrible why the ex-committee is trying so hard to get back in, and to agree (again) to abide by the rules and procedures of Comhaltas.)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:11 PM

Everything seems to refer to the branch having been dissolved. Have the individual members of the old Clontarf committee, or the ordinary branch members, been expelled from membership of CEE? If not, what's to stop them all joining the new branch, calling for new elections, and re-electing them to the new committee?

As a complete outsider, I am watching all this with fascination. So unlike the home life of our dear EFDSS. I can't imagine anything like Clasac ever getting built here in England.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM

The branch committee has been dissolved - individual members of the Clontarf branch have emphatically *NOT* been expelled from Comhaltas. Everything possible is being done to make sure that members of the branch have the full privileges as members of Comhaltas that they had before, whether they choose to re-affiliate or not.

There is nothing whatsoever preventing all such members from immediately joining the new branch and electing whomever they want. I'm not sure of the exact by-laws of the branch concerning the recall of officers or the calling of elections, but whatever procedure that is in place can be used. Actually, from the point of view of Comhaltas and the Ardchomhairle, now that funding has been secured for the theatre and the construction is back on track, everyone joining the new branch would be the best possible outcome. And if they want to elect the committee again, that's fine too. This wasn't a problem with the branch's *existence*, obviously -- everyone thinks that Clontarf has done a fabulous job as a branch over more than 40 years of affiliation. The contention was around the financial management of one very high-profile project by one particular committee. Now that the project is back on track, I'm positive that any duly elected committee of the Clontarf branch would be more than welcome.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Frances
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM

Breandan is busy spinning - like the bureaucracy in the HSE - full of contradictions and misinformation. And every bit as cynical as them. Keep at it Breandan - your posts don't intend to answer the questions ,u do just as your paymasters require u to. Clontarf members are rightly outraged about the treatment they have received from CCE HQ - a national organization claiming to represent TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC - an organization that receives substantial public money. Now that Bertie has gone it might give more people the confidence to get rid of labhras and reclaim the organization for the membership. The expulsion of the Clontarf branch is shameful and should be rescinded immediately. They have a more legitimate place in CCE than Labhras and his followers.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 01:29 PM

Frances, if there's anything that I can clear up for you, I'd be happy to help. But most who know me wouldn't describe me as "cynical."


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,fursey
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 02:27 PM

News stations and websites are reporting that Bertie Ahern,the Taoiseach (Prime Minister)of Ireland has today announced that he will be "stepping down" next month....The usual cliches abound... "for the good of the party", "in the interests of stability", "to avoid further rancour" ...etc are typical of the reasons cited for the Fianna Fail leaders resignation.

Leaving aside the fact that the Taoiseach's resignation comes in the midst of his appearances in front of the ongoing tribunal of inquiry regarding corruption in high places, one wonders if the Ardstiurthoir of Comhaltas has himself made provisions for the transfer of power within his own organisation on his eventual retirement? How old is the Senator now? Certainly he's above the age when he'd be long retired if he was a civil servant or a teacher? What will his legacy be? When will he follow the example of his party leader and cash in his chips?

I reckon the clash over Clasach will be as nothing compared to the inevitable scramble for position, power and privilege that will occur when, perish the thought, the Senator finally decides to ramble back to retirement in Cashel.

Come to think of it, perhaps that's exactly what's going on right now with the jockeying and spinning that surrounds this particular power struggle in Clontarf. Is it a precursor to an even greater power struggle to come -one for the control of Comhaltas? Are some of the main players in Monkstown even now staking out their claims to be the next Ardstiurthoir?

One glance at the bastion of cutting edge commentary on all things Gaelic and pure in Irish music that is "Treoir", the quarterly printed publication of Comhaltas, will confirm that it appears to be still very much an "uno duce, una voce" scenario in the higher echelons of CCE. Smooth transition of power is the mark of the clever, caring and conscientious leader. Who, one wonders, is "the annointed one" in CCE now that the Senator is over the age of the pension. Hardly one of those who is rumoured to be at the forefront of the smash (the branch) and grab (the property)attempt in Clontarf,

And now, in the spirit of levity and good humour that has marked this debate from the outset I have compiled a quiz. A prize of the entire Comhaltas CD output to the person who can answer the following.

What's the most numbers of photographs of Labhras O Murchu to appear in one issue of Treoir?

What do the Dear Leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung and Senator Labras O Murchu have in common? (Answer a,b,c in order of preference)

a. A devotion to openess, transparency and clarity in all public dealings.

b. A mutual love of B/C box playing

c. The same hairdresser.

d. One is supreme leader for life of a ruthless, stalinist-type organisation while the other.....


I'll get my (green) jacket.









Has "democracy comhaltas style" driven a


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 02:35 PM

"There is nothing whatsoever preventing all such members from immediately joining the new branch and electing whomever they want."
Then they can build new €multi-million premises, get expelled and so ad-infinitum.
Nothing wrong with Cohaltas as an idea - in practice it's a beurocratic nightmare (as Breandan Breathnach once remarked, an organisation to which a beheading wouldn't go amiss).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Howard Jones
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 03:35 PM

Breandan, are you saying that if the members re-affiliate with the new branch and then re-elect the "old committee" members to the "new committee", then CEE Head Office would be perfectly happy with that? Call ME cynical, but I think not.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,the white rabbit
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 04:15 PM

The more Breandain defends the legitimacy of the ard comhairle's dissolution the more transparant the whole process becomes. The members of the dissolved branch can apply to join the new set up branch. Then why dissolve the branch in the first place? Its clear that only some will be admitted to this bogus set up. Otherwise why bother? Its an old fashioned purge as was popular in stalinist times with the added complication that the elected committee of the dissolved branch carry the confidence of the vast majority as was evidenced at 3 general meetings. The members of the bogus ctte (and I mean bogus in the sense of its function not whether it meets the criteria to call itself a branch) would not get much respect never mind votes for the role they played in this sordid excercise in so called democracy, where you are tried and sentenced in your absence.

I have'nt experienced anything so cynical for as long as I can remember. The democratic process Breandain defends is a mixture of stalinism and Alice in wonderland 'Sentence first trial later in your absence'


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 05:02 PM

Be very careful or Jimmy Hoffa, sorry , Jim Carroll will have his opponents"face down in the Mersey", time I was out of here.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 05:52 PM

As I said, now that the theatre project is back on track, I think that reconciliation with the old committee would be absolutely the first priority. If Maurice and his crowd were to take positions in the new branch, I don't see why they wouldn't be welcomed. After all, it's the noise being made by the former committee that is currently causing such a kerfuffle, and isn't good for either side, frankly. Them being in the new branch would mean that we had some reconciliation, obviously.

In any case, people seem to have made up their minds. It's extremely easy to believe bad things about any biggish organisation, and so I'm not surprised that every fact presented is interpreted in that frame. It's been shown that people will believe the most extraordinary things in order to adapt a fact pattern to fit what they already believed as a matter of faith. I guess I'm a hopeless idealist - I voted for Obama in the primaries, after all.

I'll let you guys know if the new committee makes a public statement.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:30 PM

ard mhacha wrote   
>when a barrage of one-sided criticism is directed at one person namely Brendan

The barrage is aimed at Comhaltas, not Brendan. And the reason that 'one person' (who is a CCE employee remember) is having to work so hard is because no one else seems to be on that side. Not his fault, but if that were a popular viewpoint he'd have all sorts of other voices chiming in with support. Ask yourself WHY this criticism is one-sided.

The comment about Jim Carroll is a cheap shot, ard mhacha. If you're the sort of support that Comhaltas attracts in this argument, no wonder it's one sided. So far this discussion has been pretty clear of pointless personal insults. Let's keep it that way. And if it's a joke it's not funny.

Brendan, question for you though it has already been asked-- WHY, if they have general meetings every year, are proposals to change the constitution only allowed every 6 years? And don't just say because it's in the rules - Comhaltas's rules. I want to know how they can possibly justify it. There's NO WAY that's fair.   

You say (I don't doubt you) the regular members of the dissolved Clontarf branch are welcome to rejoin the new officially-approved one. What on earth makes you think they'd want to? Read some of those posts above who are obviously from locals. Can't you hear the fury in their voices? This action has done huge damage to that community, a split that will take years to heal if it ever does, and all their kids will all have to grow up in it. Great job you're doing, Senator Murphy. A real man of the people aren't you?

What specific year did he first become head of Comhaltas?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:47 PM

Caitlín, I don't know why the constitution can only be amended every six years. I assume that the point is to encourage stability in the organisation. How to weigh that stability against the needs of democracy is a legitimate debate, and I suspect that the correct answer could be a different number these days. Remember, the US Constitution also allows amendment, but the process of actually getting an amendment passed is hugely complicated and time-consuming. Again, for reasons of stability.

Much as I'm a fan of (most) of the amendments to the US Constitution, I'm also glad that the process is a difficult one. The result is stability. You could argue that the Founding Fathers (and the original Comhaltas founders) should have allowed for more direct democracy, and that the Electoral College and the Ardchomhairle are, in some ways, one step removed from direct, in-your-face local democracy. That argument could be made. When governments and high councils do particularly stupid or just controversial stuff, it's easy to call for amendments to the governing structure and to the governing documents. I'm not sure that's always in the best interest of democracy in the longer term.

I suspect that the lack of comment on "my side" has to do with the relatively few people involved in the theatre project. It's also much easier to rally people to a cause, fighting for justice, than it is to talk about capital structuring and administrative process. "My side" is dull, technical, and depends on knowledge that very, very few people have. Most of the people who know what went down are on the former Clontarf committee, and even many of those guys are keeping silent, leaving the outraged shouting to rank-and-file members who have been fed selective facts by their committee. And the outraged shouting is very credible - I have no problem admitting that. As I've said before, I'd be pretty outraged if my branch went away for reasons that I could neither understand nor control.

That said, some of the comments here are pretty definitely aimed at me, not at Comhaltas. I guess that's OK - I mean, it's the Internet, after all - but I try my best not to make Stalinist or "ethnic cleansing" references about those who disagree with me. I've spent some time in Eastern Europe, and I'm pretty sure that most former Soviet republics these days would welcome the relatively benign politics of an organisation like Comhaltas. Ineffective, often. But neither greedy nor malicious nor self-serving. I mean, in this whole thing we're talking about a fight between two committees of volunteers who play folk music, for heaven's sake.

Yes, I hear the fury. Yes, I hear the outrage, and I sympathise.

To answer your other question, Labhrás was appointed as Director-General in the early 70s, I believe, after serving in various volunteer positions. But he could be instantly replaced at the next Ardchomhairle meeting with a 2/3 vote if he lost the support of the membership. The fact that he's still there means that most people in Comhaltas think that he's doing a pretty good job, the job he's paid to do. Those of you in Comhaltas: if you want to change your leadership, just elect new guys to lead you. It's pretty simple.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: domo
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 06:58 PM

Brendan,
In one of the threads, the Clontarf Branch claims they were registered as a Charity Organisation, obviously for refund purposes. Are they the only branch that are registered as such? Is this in keeping with the constitution? Is this "stroke" not what caused the VAT refund problems? From reading the threads, surely the word charity is not in Larry's vocabulary.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 07:02 PM

Comhaltas itself is registered as a charity, registration #8762. I have no idea on what basis Clontarf applied for a VAT refund - they haven't shared those documents with the Ardchomhairle.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 07:14 PM

Re Brendan's 6:47 message --

Stability? Oh come ON. That organisation is not under any threat of instability. And all those long comparisons with the US government are irrelevant. The US government has to coordinate 50 separate states, all with different laws, some of them pretty heavy (divorce terms, death penalty or not, etc). There no way you can compare a huge country which has a population of something like 200 million very different groups of people with one organisation in one city dedicated to one particular culture. I simply do not believe Comhaltas' stability would be threatened by giving its members a fair say in amending the constitution.

> How to weigh that stability against the needs of democracy

The needs of democracy are for fair representation. Don't try to muddy the issue with bringing in irrelevant comparisons with the American governmental structure.

If you don't know why the 6 year rule applies, someone there must. (So do we. Preserving the status-quo.)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,piaras
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 07:17 PM

Breandan, are you getting the head staggers from all that spinning? You're pushing it a bit when you state that what "is causing such a kerfuffle here" is the noise being made by what you refer to as "the former committee." The brazen action by your own paymasters to unilaterally disband the branch and then to tell us that their self-appointed committee is legitimate is what has caused the row here. These actions are what offends the sensibilities of the majority of the people the "new committee" now claim to represent.

Why do you think it is that, as you admit above, most people simply do not believe your/Labhras' position here? I can assure you it's not simply because Comhaltas is a "biggish organisation".

You tell us you had a vote in the US primaries. Are you from Florida? They know a thing or two there about twisting the democratic wishes of the majority!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 01:38 AM

Well, I haven't spoken up yet, but I have to say I'm pretty convinced by Breandan's arguments. CCE is not a "democracy," in the sense of a government, it's a charitable corporation. Many such corporations are far less democratic that Comhaltas, and have a non-elected board of trustees that reigns supreme.

Both governments and membership organizations have rules that keep them representative up to a point. Neither is completely representative, because you only have the opportunity to change officers, or change the rules, every so often. Neither holds individual referenda on every issue. In this case, the elected members of the national committee apparently voted to dissolve the Clontarf committee. That is constitutional, and it was accomplished by a full roster of duly elected representatives, not a "kangaroo court" as some have alleged. If you don't like the way your representative voted, you do have recourse: vote for someone else next time.

You can also change the constitution. It's no good getting mad at Breandan because the constitution can only be changed every six years. He did not make that rule, and CCE members have seemed to be pretty happy with it, since it survived the last opportunity to change it. If you think it's a bad rule, start agitating for that rule to change as soon as you can--but don't whine about it, or accuse anyone of ill-will or wrongdoing; no one, not even your opponents on this issue, can do anything about the constitution outside of the sixth year window.

One big difference, by the way, between a government and a charitable corporation, is that no one is forced to be a member of a charitable corporation. So if its laws seem undemocratic, you can use your membership to change the laws--as you can in a democratic government. But you can also leave CCE and found your own organization. Or just play music without an organization.

By the way, it can't have escaped anyone's notice that "stability" and "maintaining the status quo" are just two ways of saying the same thing. The only difference is your attitude to change. So if Breandan is "spinning," so are his opponents.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 04:18 AM

Breandán, am I correct in thinking that previously - and not that long ago- the time period between rule changes was just 4 years and not 6 years as it is now?
I'm sure it wont be difficult to find out if this was the case and when the new period came into play.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 04:27 AM

" time I was out of here."
ard mhacha
Following snide remarks like your last one, - at last - something we on agree upon.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 07:20 AM

> stability" and "maintaining the status quo" are just two ways of saying the same thing

WRONG. They're not. Maintaining the status quo means 'we don't want things to change from how they are now' usually voiced by those who already have the power. Stability simply means it's not unsteady or in danger of collapsing. They are not the same thing at all. Saying that one equals the other is 'spin' too, Nerd.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Geek
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:15 AM

Oh COME ON!!!
Caitlin, you are nit picking!!!

Piaras, spin away! spin away!

You are both alond with your many counterparts spinning in circles.
you don't like comhaltas,you don't like labhras.
You do like Comhaltas, you don't like labhras.
As perviously stated, either do something about it, or just get on with your lives.

oh! PLEASE!!!!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:18 AM

And your point is...?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 11:54 AM

Caitlin,

Your need to shout "wrong" in all caps underlines the weakness of your argument.

My point about "stability" is not "spin." It's just good English, being offered to you by a professional writer, editor, and English professor.

"Stability" means, among other things:

"Immunity from destruction or essential change; enduring quality."

and

"Permanence of arrangement; power of resisting change of structure."

Status quo means "The existing state of affairs."

"The existing state of affairs" is what will be maintained if change is resisted.

Ergo, Stability MEANS the tendency to maintain the status quo. That is one of the main definitions of the word "stability."

Shout all you like, but you will not change this. Language, too, has a certain degree of stability.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 11:57 AM

Come on geek!!!
How can caitlín be nit picking? She is perfectly correct in pointing out the differences between the two phrases. There is a big difference and an important one. You CAN have stability with lots of change - something we badly need in C.C.E.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 01:57 PM

" Any union leader taking such liberties would have ended face down in the Mersey,", so have you got the heavy squad ready, what a silly statement to make, cool down Jim a hot-headed remark like that, shows your true nature.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 01:59 PM

If the Head Office was concerned that the project was running into financial difficulties and didn't have confidence in the local branch to sort it out, then I can see why it felt it had to intervene. What does seem to be in question is whether the way it intervened was appropriate. Breandan argues that the local branch didn't want to discuss it, the local branch seems to be saying that Head Office wasn't prepared to listen.

It is also understandable that the local branch was defensive about what it no doubt saw, and still sees, as its project, whereas Head Office sees it as a Comhaltas project.

There was clearly always going to be a gulf between the two sides. Perhaps dissolution was the only step open to Head Office, I don't know. Even if it was, the way they have gone about it seems to have widened that gulf, and drawn in many people who were not previously involved.

Whoever is right or wrong, the whole thing seems to have been handled pretty badly. The question now is whether the mess can be sorted out. At the moment its not clear that either side is very interested in doing so.

So far as the VAT refund is concerned, in my view its a red herring. The correct amount of money ended up back where it belonged. The issue seems to be that it did not go through the proper channels. No doubt that has put someone's nose out of joint, but it doesn't appear to me to be a major problem.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 02:10 PM

My question is a fair one and it has still not been answered. Not allowing any changes to be even proposed for six-year periods of time means the people in power get to stay in power without being challenged. It does not mean that Comhaltas is unstable. Brendan's answer does not even address the issue.

If he doesn't know the answer, there are people in that organisation that do - but they are not telling us. It's not a matter of semantics, it's a matter of democracy. And it's a question I still want an answer to.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 02:37 PM

Caitlín, I think it is rather a stretch to say that not providing for yearly amendments to the organisation's constitution "means the people in power get to stay in power." Elections are held yearly. If the membership wishes to replace their representatives, they are free to do so at any point. The organisation itself does require stability, and you are incorrect if you think that frequent rule changes would produce a happy result.

Also, for what it's worth, I believe that my analogies to the US Constitution and to other governing bodies is a perfectly suitable way of illustrating what can be a complex subject, now that we've headed away from capital structuring and into the realm of representative democracy. Many of the external constraints and even the underlying ideals are similar in the two cases, and such documents and governing structures have been formulated with similar results.

I note that the conversation has moved now from the bare-faced theft of a building at the start, through to a discussion of the constitutionality of dissolving a branch, and now finally to the governing structures and documents of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann itself. I can only assume that the lack of any coherent defence by the old committee indicates that the essential facts surrounding the mismanagement of the theatre project are not contested.

I'm interested to know exactly what is being proposed as a more suitable conclusion than that which occurred. If the high council had not intervened, the project would still be stuck with not enough money and no way to raise more, vendors would still be unpaid and a beautiful new arts centre would be sitting on the Alfie Byrne road with no water or sewer connections. While I understand the frustration of the branch members, especially those not on the executive committee, is it seriously being argued that such a result would be better for all concerned? I honestly don't see how that outcome would enhance the reputation of Craobh Chluain Tarbh.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 03:03 PM

"The essential facts surrounding the mismanagement of the theatre project are not contested".

These alleged facts are very much in dispute - in fact they are at the very centre of it. I don't know why the members of the old branch have not engaged in the debate here but if you read what is said on the Cluain Tarbh web site they clearly do not agree with the version of events given by the ard comhairle statement.

We are only hearing one side of the argument here and it would be useful if those who were directly involved in the project would come onto this thread and give their side of the story.

Howard I agree the VAT refund is a bit of a red herring, but the actions of the branch committee in refusing to give the monry to Head Office seem to have been a significant catalyst in provoking the dissolution of the branch.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 04:24 PM

Battle of Clontarf round two/ Comhaltas Interruptus.
The very naming of this thread,suggests the original poster has an axe to grind.
personally,I would like to have more information from both sides,before I could decide who is in the right.
Comhaltas do make mistakes,one example is[their system of marking for competitions with the over emphasis on ornamentation is in my opinion a mistake and is responsible for artificially altering style]
on the other hand ,through the fleadhs they have also provided a lot of people with pleasure,and been responsible for many children acquiring skill, self esteeem and musical satisfaction.
Comhaltas is in my opinion a Curates Egg.,and has a lot in common with political parties,there are many branch activists who give alot of unpaid time and dedication,and do a lot of excellent work,and then theres the bigwigs[who would best be stuck up a tree].
Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 04:43 PM

Boy you sure are batting well for your masters Breandán!!! After all the discussions that have taken place re this and you still come back and say.
"I'm interested to know exactly what is being proposed as a more suitable conclusion than that which occurred"

You have read incountless messages, what HQ have done wrong. I realise that there was fault on both sides The kernel of the dispute is the illegal dissolution of the Branch. Do you realise that in 20 years - 40 years the story of the dissolution of Cluain Tarbh will be spoken of. Instead of being a showcase performance space, Clasach will be a permanent reminder of this dirty deed. I can tell you this. The building is not worth it if it generates such bad feeling disputes and animosity for decades to come. Better if it never happened. Solve it - and quickly. Swallow you pride Labhras and reinstate the branch. Let an independent arbitrator be appointed to try and bring some peace between the parties involved.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 05:53 PM

Oddly, the supporters of the former Clontarf branch committee seem to support tyranny whenever it results in their goals being met, and to oppose it whenever it doesn't. Case in point, knight_high's call for the director to "reinstate" the branch committee, thus overturning the decision of a national committee of elected representatives. In case you haven't noticed, knight_high, a single executive overturning the decision of an elected committee would be autocratic.

A better solution would be to re-convene the national committee and see if they would consider a different approach. Frankly, though, it may not be constitutionally possible, because dissolving a branch committee and constituting a new branch committee are different actions. The central committee may not have the authority to appoint the old committee members back to the branch committee, even if they wanted to.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 06:01 PM

I'm afraid you're correct on that score, Nerd -- I'm not aware of any precedent suggesting that the national committee can interfere in the duly elected officer makeup of a local committee, and those who are calling for such a move will probably not make much progress. The Director-General certainly doesn't have that power.

You are also correct in the separation of powers -- the act of dissolution was carried out by the national committee, while the new branch was formed under the auspices of the Dublin County Board.

The best chance of resolution that I can see is for the old committee members to run for office within the new branch. Of course, I'm hopeful that tensions will die down once the theatre opens and becomes the home of the branch. That's what everyone wants to see, after all.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Philip
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 06:24 PM

Brendan,
Cluain Tarbh were denied their right of appeal or any hearing because the Dublin County Committee made the decision in conjunction with the Ard Comhairle to suspend the branch. This decision should only have been made by the full county committee at very least. The full county board should have been involved and Cluain Tarbh should have been allowed to present its case. As regards the outstanding money owed to the contractors etc., the loans were approved and awaiting trustee signatures to draw down the funds but the trustees did not sign. The same amount of money has now been sourced by HQ and the trustee signatures would presumably have been required for these borrowings too. This project will need good will to repay borrowings and ensure its success. Local support is vital. As a cluain Tarbh member I respect your position and feel you should respect mine. As with all difficult disputes dialogue is the best way forward.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 06:54 PM

Declan, you're right, the way the branch handled the VAT does seem to have been a significant factor in Head Office's decision, but I find it hard to understand why the Head Office was so het up about it. The branch may not have followed the correct procedures, but the money ended up where it belonged - how could that be damaging to CCE? There's been no suggestion of financial impropriety, so far as I'm aware, and the branch insists that it believes it acted legally. A rap over the knuckles for not following CCE's internal financial procedures might be in order, but to use it as one of the excuses for dissolving the branch does seem excessive.

The financial difficulty the project found itself in is another matter. In the circumstances I don't see that Head Office had any option but to take control.   Assuming dissolution of the branch was the only constitutional way to achieve this, the question then is whether both parties did enough to avoid this, by engaging in discussions. The fact that both sides now seem to have taken entrenched positions suggests to me that perhaps they did not, although exactly who should bear most responsibility for this is not clear.

What's important now is to find a way forward. The hierarchy of Comhaltas must find a way of bringing back the disaffected members of the former branch and continuing to involve as many of them as possible in completing the project, with new controls and safeguards in place


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 06:54 PM

Philip:

I do respect your position, and as I have said before I can only imagine how frustrating it must be right now to be a member of Clontarf Comhaltas. I'm afraid that on the legalities of things, I do see the point of the Ardchomhairle: the high council does have the right to dissolve a branch, though as you say the County Board also has that right. With regard to the loan, I have answered that elsewhere: after waiting for an unconscionable period of time to secure such a loan, the branch presented an agreement to the trustees that could only be signed if the trustees had direct control of the money as spent. A simple enquiry to the trustees at any point in the process of arranging the loan would have confirmed this. I can only assume the hope was that the by-then-precarious financial situation of the project would have compelled the trustees to act despite their misgivings.

But considering the present, at this point a loan has been secured, and with control over the remainder of the construction project the trustees have indeed committed Comhaltas to cover the amount. The branch having been very unfortunately dissolved, my suggestion was that the best opportunity of working together (and continuing the dialogue) will be in the context of the newly-formed branch of Craobh Chluain Tarbh.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: magb
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 07:27 PM

Don't quite follow Nerd's gripes here. As far as I can see, there have been a number of Clontarf members contributing to this thread - none of them "tyrants". I completely understand why members of the 'old committee' would not idenitify themselves as such here - thus laying them open to litigious quotation/argument distracting to their main issues etc.
As far as I can tell from all info detailed above, the CEC can do exactly what they wish, and if that included reversing their decision to dissolve the branch, I'm sure they would easily justify their decision to implement this action. (And dissolving a newly self-elected branch should surely be pretty painless compared to dissolving a 45 year old branch)
Sadly, that won't happen unless they are faced with huge dissent and legal action. I hope that the 'old' branch has the will and the means to organise the latter.
Maggie




posted earlier by knight high
POWERS AND DUTIES (of County Board)
4 (c) The County Board shall have the right to suspend any branch, and/or remove from office, a branch officer or officers, where it has been clearly established that the branch or officers of the branch are guilty of conduct which is deemed to be contrary to the ideals and objects of An Comhaltas, as enshrined in this Constitution, and is calculated to bring An Comhaltas into disrepute. Where a branch is suspended, the County Board shall for the time being be empowered to exercise all the functions of the said branch. A branch or officer so suspended shall have the right of appeal to the Provincial Council


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 07:40 PM

To take a slightly different angle on this, it seems to me that, given that Classac was identified as a regional centre in an overall Comhaltas strategy that either:
(a) Comhaltas head office left the Classac Committee - part of a local Branch, to shoulder a large burden of responsibility of the project without providing the benefit of its expertise and assitance to the Branch in running the project or
(b) The project was being run jointly by the Branch and Head Office but HQ chose to distance itself from the actions of the Committee when things (in the HQ viewpoint) started to go pear shaped.

In either case HQ are culpable in the project going off the rails (to teh extent that it did) but the entire blame for this is being laid at the door of the Branch. HQ steps in as the white knight to resolve the situation and accuses the Classac committee of mismanaging the project. Somehting about this whole situation stinks!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Diarmaid
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:28 PM

Breandán,

Obviously, you have a different version of the Bunreacht than that which was issued to me.

The County Board does not have the right to dissolve a branch. It has the right to suspend a branch under Section 3 Rule 6(c) with the branch then having the right to appeal to the Provincial Council. Clontarf was not afforded the luxury of appealing suspension because they were not suspended by the County Board.

The Ardchomhairle on the other hand do not have the right to suspend a branch. However, Clontarf were notified in writing by the Ardrunaí that it was the Ardchomhairle who had suspended them. A copy of the letter (Feb 6th 2008) can be found at http://www.cluaintarbh.net/clasac-docs.htm. I believe that, in coming to their decision, the Ardchomhairle were not aware of the facts because Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú and the other members of the Buanchoiste had prevented them receiving the facts from the branch.

The Buanchoiste also denied the branch the opportunity to state their case directly to the Ardchomhairle as can be seen from the Ardrúnaí's letter which was e-mailed on 31st Jan 2008, a copy of which can also be found at http://www.cluaintarbh.net/clasac-docs.htm.

Breandán, you seem to be aware of what correspondence from the branch was received by Ardchomhairle members (`02 Apr 08 - 07:02 PM). Perhaps you would enlighten us as to how many of the documents submitted by the branch for the attention of the Ardchomhairle members, during the 2 months prior to the branch's dissolution, were actually distributed by Labhrás & Co to the Ardchomhairle members.

The Buanchoiste also instructed the County Board not to accept the branch's correspondence or to allow their representatives to attend County Board meetings, thus ensuring that the true facts could not make their way through the channels of County Board, Provincial Council, Ardchomhairle which is how the Ardrúnaí had stated we should make our case in his letter of 31st Jan 2008 referred to above.

Breandán, you say (`02 Apr 08 - 07:02 PM) that you have no idea on what basis Clontarf applied for a VAT refund. That seems odd to me as Comhaltas HQ worked closely with the branch in agreeing the VAT application process and they supplied most of the information required.

Domo, you say that in one of the threads, the Clontarf Branch claims they were registered for charity. This is incorrect. Jim Carroll (16 MAR 08 - 04:30 AM) from Clare said that was the story as he knew it. Jim is not a member of the Clontarf branch and the Clontarf branch was not registered as a charity. In general, however, Jim does seem to have a very good grasp of what has happened and is a lot more accurate than Breandán whom, I suspect, has been a lot more closely involved than he lets on with his honest broker routine.

There was nothing irregular with the claim for VAT refund submitted to the Revenue Commissioners by the VAT entity set up by the Clontarf branch. The Revenue Commissioners agreed that they were entitled to the refund and approved the claim. When the Buanchoiste notified the branch in their letter of 5th Feb 2008 that they were seizing control of the Clasac project, it was clear that the VAT entity set up by the branch could not trade and, therefore it was deregistered for VAT purposes and the VAT refund returned to Revenue. The Revenue Commissioners confirmed in their letter of 04 Mar 2008 that the branch had acted appropriately.

As can be seen from the Ardrúnaí's letter of Feb 6th 2008, the only issue which the branch was asked to regularise was the VAT refund which the Trustees directed should be transferred to them.

In the days prior to dissolution of the branch, the Ardrúnaí confirmed by phone that the only issue for which the branch was under threat of dissolution was the failure by the branch to transfer the VAT to the HO account. For this reason, Howard Jones and Declan, I disagree with your assessment that the VAT refund was a red herring. It is the only issue that the branch were asked to 'regularise'. HO knew that the branch had acted appropriately in relation to the VAT at all times. They also knew, because the branch advised them of the expert tax advice that it had received, that it would be illegal to transfer the VAT to HO. Yet, they dissolved the branch for failing to do so.

With regard to your claim, Breandán, that the project was mismanaged, I would like you to give specifics. I am sure that I can answer to the satisfaction of others out there, any doubts that you might like to raise.

With regard to your numerous claims about the democratic nature of the Ardchomhairle and Senator Labhrás' position, you have an advantage over me in that, when I asked HO for details on the Ardchomhairle, I was informed by the person on the phone that she (I won't name her) was under instruction not to give out details of the Ardchomhairle members. She would not say who had issued the instruction other than 'management', nor would she tell me who in HO constituted 'management'.

You say (01 Apr 08 - 01:39 PM) that 'the council is composed of 31 elected voluntary officers who are accountable to their home districts'.

What do you mean by 'their home districts'? Please specify the home districts.
What do you mean by 'accountable to'? Please specify how they are accountable to their home districts?
Can you tell me who elected the 31 voluntary officers?
How many members were co-opted onto the Ardchomhairle?

I look forward to your response.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 03 Apr 08 - 10:46 PM

magb,

I was specifically referring to knight-high's suggestion that Labhras simply unilaterally "reinstate" the Clontarf committee. That is tyranny--in the sense that the Clontarf committee was dissolved by a representative body, not the whim of a single man. To "reinstate" it on the whim of a single man, or a vocal minority, would therefore be tyrannical. The new committee must be elected.

Breandan confirms my previous suspicion: neither Labhras nor the committee can "reinstate" the Clontarf committee. This is not unusual in electoral systems; in much the same way, the US Congress can remove a sitting President, but not install one. If they remove one, and then think better of it, it's too late.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 02:44 AM

Diarmuid,

I meant that the VAT refund was a red herring to the extent that, assuming the Ardcomhairle would have acted legally, that the VAT refund would have been returned to the exchequer in any event whether the money had been returned to Revenue, or via HQ and the Deprtment of Arts etc. The branch, in returning the money to the state's collection agency, from whence it came, simply cut out a number of intermediary steps.

It was obviously, as I have stated a few times, a major factor in triggering events in Head Office. I'm still at a loss as to why.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 03:23 AM

So far, this dispute has taken place articulately and, to one degree or another, politely; much passion and heat, even anger at times, but at least people on both sides of the fence have listened to the points of view of their opponents and attempted to answer them.
While I disagree with Breandán, I am very aware that he has appeared to listen to what I have to say and has attempted to deal with my questions politely and carefully – too seldom the case in such arguments.
I would be grateful to Ard mhacha if he didn't use a flippant remark of mine to drag this discussion down to gutter level.
Nerd; the classifying of organisations such as CCE and EFDSS as 'charities' is, I believe a nominal one, done for the purpose of convenience rather than definition. The roles of these and, say Oxfam, Save The Children and ISPCA are very different and require different relationships between those at the head of the organisations and the foot-soldiers.
Not only do I do believe that a democratic structure is not out of the question in our music organisations, I think it is essential if all members are to make a contribution.
One thing that all 'charities' music or otherwise, who are dependent on public support, from within or without, is total transparency and full accountability of action – not the case with the Clontarf affair, I believe.
Somebody said they couldn't imagine this happening in the U.K.; I beg to differ. It wasn't so long ago that EFDSS made the front pages by having to call in the Fraud Squad over the proposed sale of Cecil Sharp House; an affair which not only exposed EFDSS to ridicule and disrepute, but tore the organisation in pieces, a state from which, I believe, it never fully recovered.
Public organisations need to be aware that they are constantly in the public eye and largely dependent on public support and good will.
I don't know how the (rightly discredited IMO) 2000 report by Labhrás to the Oireachreas on the state of music in Ireland was received within Comhaltas; I do know it stirred up a hornet's nest of protest outside, which eventually led to it being shelved. The aftershocks of the affair are still being felt; I still have the scathing 'Pillars of Society article on Labhrás; not exactly helpful to him or CCE.
Breandán; thank you for answering my simple question and satisfying my curiosity, if not my cynicism. As I appear to be on a roll, hope you don't mind if I try another couple.
1.        (Somewhat impenetrable) rulebook and financial disputes aside - do you believe that the leadership have handled this affair well?
2.        Do you think that this affair has helped or hindered the cause of Irish traditional music?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: ard mhacha
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:08 AM

All very good Jim, the gutter remark was in your post so I would be grateful to you if you cared to read some of your earlier posts, I see plenty of spite in them.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 04:18 AM

Diarmuid, Declan has summarised my view on the VAT issue. It was clearly a significant factor in the decision to involve the branch, but it should not have been. Whilst it may have contravened internal financial processes, the money has ended up back with the Revenue, and indeed the Branch states that it has been advised that legally it could not have done otherwise. To dissolve the branch for putting the law of the land above internal processes seems excessive.

That's what I meant about it being a red herring. It seems to be just an excuse to give an additional reason for dissolving the branch, rather than a genuine issue.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Sparkles
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 05:16 AM

Why is Breandan the only one speaking for Comhaltas? Why, when he doesn't know the answer to a question, it just doesn't get answered? Comhaltas is made up of a whole group of people and don't tell me they're not reading this. Why are they ignoring questions they don't like by leaving everything to Breandan? That 6 year thing has still not been explained. It just keeps getting sidestepped. So let's try again:

WHY is there no provision in place for amending the constitution more often than every 6 years? 'I don't know' just isn't good enough. If Breandan doesn't know, get someone who does to come on board and justify it. If they can.

An institution that does not allow enough scope for its governing rules to be changed is unfair. The possibility of reform needs to be made more available because it's one of the ways you keep power in balance. It should be a basic right.

And I'm not talking about yearly elections. I'm talking about the constitution. So often in this thread when a question gets asked the only answer is Because the constitution says so. That may be a reason but it's not an explanation. Maybe the constitution needs an overhaul? Tough. You can't. Not for years yet. That's NOT FAIR. The only real answer on this has been silence. What does that tell you?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 05:41 AM

What stands out to me is that the majority of people on this thread who are criticising (either party) are not (or not admitting to be) members.
Any club / society I am a member of has rules which the members follow, contest, amend, add to etc.
But to have 'outsiders' telling me how my adopted club should be run is unacceptable.(advice is acceptable)
This may be the reason for the silence of certain parties re. this forum.
In any 'club' there will be conflicting views but I have found that it is rare that 'outsiders' ever get the true facts, leading to false conclusions.
No matter the truth or final outcome, this affair will leave a bad taste in many mouths for decades (as said in a previous post)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:51 AM

Black Hawk, I'm quite prepared to admit that I'm not a member of Comhaltas. What's more, I'm an Englishman, living in England, and I'm unlikely to use or visit the Clasac centre. So perhaps I have no right to comment.

But this is more than a matter of internal discipline within a private club, it has ramifications which go far wider and which may affect traditional music outside the confines of Comhaltas. I submit that anyone who enjoys and takes an interest in Irish music has a right to an opinion on this.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:03 AM

I agree you have a right to an opinion as have I.
I am not questioning that.
Even if our opinions are based on false assumptions they are still only opinions.
I am commenting on the organisation being told what to do by non-participants. Not advice - instructions.
But again, just my opinion as an interested observer.
I think it a great pity when any organisation has a wedge driven in no matter the rights & wrongs.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:14 AM

Well, WE didn't drive that wedge into it.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:33 AM

I'll be happy to do a more detailed response to your post, Diarmud, though I'm actually somewhat incredulous that you are not more aware of the governing structure of Comhaltas. And while I'm sure our receptionist wouldn't have given you telephone numbers, the membership of the central council would be public record.

First, though, Jim raises some fascinating questions, which I think are quite relevant to the debate.

1.       (Somewhat impenetrable) rulebook and financial disputes aside - do you believe that the leadership have handled this affair well?

That would be a qualified "no." I think that the council took a difficult decision in the face of a difficult and complicated problem. Because they followed the rules and did what was necessary to get the project back on track, I think they acted correctly. However, in several areas there is much to learn from.

Communications between the Ardchomhairle and the Clontarf membership have been extremely unhelpful, from what I can see, both in person and in writing. To a certain extent, the Ardchomhairle will say that it isn't their job to talk to the membership - that they deal with the branch committee. And they're right, technically. From the perspective of goodwill, though, I think that animosities on both sides had been allowed to harden before any real communications occurred, and what we heard from both sides was excessively legalistic and stiff, exacerbating an already touchy situation. And as I've said elsewhere, I would have preferred that this action be originated at County Board level, escalated to Provincial Council and then to Central Council, if only to make sure that Clontarf felt they had been listened to at each step. I doubt that the outcome would be different, but a longer process (initiated earlier) would have addressed these questions of representation.

My choice would have been to initiate an action in Dublin County Board after the arbitrated agreement to pay contractors in December was defaulted, and let it go up the system from there. While the Ardchomhairle clearly has the right to do what it did, and while they were correct that some intervention had become necessary, I do feel that a process could have been followed which would have made it more clear to the membership of Clontarf what was happening and why. I believe that the council waited too long, hoping that the committee would start taking advice, and the disagreement became a very tragic game of chicken which could only be resolved drastically.

As I've said, though, I'm not an elected representative of any part of Comhaltas, and I was not privy to all communications back and forth. There may have been no alternative. But my own sense of process and fairness would have been better served by a more locally-originated debate. While constitutional, the acts taken made the Clontarf membership understandably upset, and certainly didn't do the organisation any favours in the area of public relations.

2.       Do you think that this affair has helped or hindered the cause of Irish traditional music?

This particular spat is definitely hurting, because it is contributing to a popular conception that whenever the government or a private organisation tries to get involved in culture, something gets screwed up. I don't agree with that - while I accept fully that Irish culture is no longer in danger of extinction or marginalisation, I believe that this continues to be in part due to organisations like Comhaltas. Note that I said "In part." The fact that Comhaltas has become sufficiently ubiquitous so as to fade into the unnoticed infrastructure of Irish life only underscores the point, not refutes it.

Yes, obviously people around the world could and should enjoy Irish music completely untethered to any structure or organisation. I'm glad that this happens. But the power of Comhaltas is in training the next generation of players, and ensuring that in any given area there will be a sufficient critical mass of music and musicians that the spontaneous ensembles and sessions and dances can take place, to the benefit of many. It is easy to underestimate this particular goal, and to assume that it was and always will be this way.

However, I think that a critical look will show that Irish culture still benefits from such support. For example, though Breton music and Moris dancing are still popularly performed by amateur musicians, we don't see nearly the involvement around the world by musicians who, day in and day out, focus much of their social energy on the amateur exchange of tunes and ideas. Spanish music has done well, but has largely become part of a performance-based tradition. Much of the indigenous music of the Middle and Far East survives throughout the diaspora, but has become relegated to marking major life events only. Irish music enjoys almost a unique status in the level of ongoing amateur support it receives, and I believe Comhaltas to be a part of that network. This far-flung network builds communities, fights cultural decay and provides focus for children and adults who are looking for a modern and collaborative answer to unidirectional mass-mediated culture.

Right now, the services of Comhaltas are heavily skewed toward children, which is in keeping with the educational goals of the movement. In the longer term, I hope to find new and better ways to facilitate the needs of adults within Comhaltas, through new collaborations, through better information exchange and through other community-building projects. But all of the potential for good work is hampered when there is division within the group.

It's understandable that people fight, and fight hard, for the structures with which they choose to align themselves. It's a sign of the strength of the Clontarf branch and of the movement as a whole that people are so passionate about this debate. I applaud the passion and energy. But when people feel ill-used, when the debate leaks out in to the public sphere, when the debate becomes acrimonious, the thing that we all believe in is damaged. The more it looks like Comhaltas can't get its act together, the more the aims of the movement are impeded.

So while the theatre and teaching centre itself will be a very good thing for the traditional arts, this particular argument is definitely hurting the cause.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 08:05 AM

I am a member of Comhaltas.
before I come to any decision regarding who is right or wrong,Iwould like to hear/see both sides of the story,in the meantime I shall carry on playing music regardless.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor, member "Reel Clontarf"
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 10:13 AM

There are many details to the long saga of how Clontarf branch lost the Clasac Theatre and got dissolved.

However, be assured that the membership who have worked and played together over many years will survive and grow stronger out of this crisis.

There are many ordinary members of CCE out there who are unhappy with the leadership of head office. I had the "pleasure" of meeting some of the ardcomhairle at Clontarf's EGM where the members were treated to a spectacular dressing down from Labras. We were in shock and dismayed initially. At our next couple of branch meetings we had had further scorn and disrespect showered on us by another member of the ardcomhairle who, amazingly was a member of our own branch.

We, the ordinary members started to recover from the shock of the treatment meeted out to us over the following weeks. We now realise that the "leadership" was WRONG to treat us in this manner. We are rising up from the ashes of this crisis and will campaign to re-establish our right to 5 of our members to be elected to the board of management of Clasac.

We will also seek the reversal of the unjust dissolution of the branch by the ardcomhairle.

I look forward to the concert in the Teachers' Club tonight and intend to thoroughly enjoy the brilliant music of our Under 18 band, our fabulous teachers, and all the eminent musicians who are performing in a show of solidarity with our dissolved club.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 10:47 AM

Well said Eileen. I am also a member of Comhaltas and also unhappy with the leader and leadership shown.
May I wish you all well in Clontarf and enjoy the concert.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 11:10 AM

I also wish you well, Eileen. If I were in Dublin, I would certainly attend the concert as well. As I will not be, I hope that it goes well. It's a fantastic line-up, as you say, and I've heard your U18 group many times.

If I were to venture a prediction, I would expect that the Clasaċ theatre board will be constituted with representation from the branch, as originally agreed. I see no reason why that would not occur. I suspect, though, that the dissolution will not be reversible, for reasons that have been discussed above. I am hoping that a reconciliation between factions can be reached within the new branch, and that the branch will continue its excellent teaching, touring and outreach programmes.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 11:52 AM

I should have mentioned a third point in my contribution above, i.e.

The vast majority (95% at a guess) fully intend to continue to support the elected committee who we all voted for at our 2007 AGM. We will continue to work together, and do NOT RECOGNISE the self-appointed "new" committee in any shape or form.

So, Breandan, while I welcome your prediction of 5 of the original branch becoming part of the Clasac board of management, I do not envisage a reconciliation being reached within the "NEW" branch. We have been treated despicably by the ardcomhairle, and would not find it easy to trust the "hand of friendship" offered by their wives and friends who elected themselves onto the new committee.

Pity you'll miss the gig. I was wondering, is your full time occupation representing the ardcomhairle on this site at the moment?

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 12:18 PM

Kinda feels like it, doesn't it? No, my full-time job right now is to finish my MA at the University of Limerick. I waded into this discussion because I felt that the information publicly available was presenting only one side of the picture, and having worked on the Clasaċ project (on and off) for the past year, I was aware of some salient facts which should be aired.

As it happens, it would appear that we've wandered into the areas of structure and governance of Comhaltas, other subjects which are generally neither well-discussed nor understood outside the organisation. Speaking for myself, even when I was an elected member of my own branch's committee, I had only the vaguest idea of how Comhaltas was actually governed. To me this speaks mostly of Comhaltas' communications capabilities, which are not great. Of course, there are idealistic people trying to change that, over time.

I'd probably withdraw from the discussion at this point and work on my essays, except that if I did the first unanswered question would be taken as an admission of defeat. :-) Though I don't represent the ardchomhairle in any way, it does seem that mine is a lonely voice at the moment submitting that the decisions of that body are not, as a matter of firmly-held belief, both venal and self-interested.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 01:37 PM

Attention, Dick Miles



If you would like to hear both sides, I suggest you try reading the thread!!!! Your comments don't come off well when the entire thread has been a (for the most part) discussion by the sides, and done with passion, but not rancor.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,MRS FLANNERY-
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:09 PM

Any one know a tune called "The Rights of Man " ?

Give me an Ahhhh minor and get on with it ----enough shite have been spoke,

Mo naire thu go leir,

MA FLANNERY


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:22 PM

Big Mick,I have been reading the thread.
I have yet to see a response,from the people responsible for dissolving the Clondarf branch.
at no point have I suggested that this discussion has been full of rancour.
I am surely entitled to keep an open mind, until I see a response from the people in CCE who have dissolved the Clondarf branch.T


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:35 PM

apologies for spelling error should read Clontarf.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:36 PM

I was looking at the Cluain Tarbh branch website and download a MS Word document , which as you can see below is the directive issued re the VAT. The interesting thing about this Word document is that when I looked at the properties of the file, Breandán Knowlton is listed as the author. m m m!!!!
Breandán would want to look at those computers in HQ and get his name off the one on which that document was created - unless of course Breandán was actually the person who drafted the document

Mr. Maurice Mullen                                                        26th January 2008
Chairman
Craobh Chluain Tarbh
82 Sonesta
Malahide
Co. Dublin

Dear Maurice

In accordance with the authority vested in us, as Trustees General of Comhaltas, by the organisation's Bunreacht, we now direct Craobh Chluain Tarbh to deliver to us the refund of VAT money which your branch obtained in relation to the CLASAĊ project.

Please comply with this directive within seven days.

Is sinne,



Pádraig Ó Ceallaigh
Colmán Ó Muimhneacháin
Labhrás Ó Murchú


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,OLD -TIMER
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:47 PM

This stuff must now,at this stage, be about to break all International records for indoor & outdoor Yawning records----- Gold Medal Boredom Award goes to-------- nominations please-----????


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:48 PM

Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick - PM
Date: 02 Apr 08 - 12:26 PM

And so the question would be, were all the steps followed, including those that give the branch its opportunity to put forth its position? Also, is there any point in the process in which the appeal is heard by an independent voice? The parallel in the civil setting would be a civil court, or in US labor, the NLRB?.
Good Idea,Mick.
solicitors would benefit as they have done with the Mahon tribunal,C


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 06:49 PM

Jasus!! Breandán Knowlton is listed as the author of other letters from HQ re this affair. He should really sort that out.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Frank_Finn
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:08 PM

I wish the people involved in this dispute would get together soon and sort it out. It is doing lots of harm to the organisation


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:39 PM

Yeah, I installed Microsoft Word on the office computers ... I should really look at changing the default entry in the Address Book ....

I didn't have anything to do with drafting the letters, obviously!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest Mr. P
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 07:49 PM

Power battles within voluntary organisations rarely make for pleasant viewing & this is no exception. Situations like this, generally when organisations have to face external issues are usually irreconciliable. Emotions inflamed beyond the point of return: 1979 is a long time ago but clearly the upset remains in that case and this thread is living proof of how brown site regeneration, VAT refunds and the ability to make constitutional amendments once every 6 years unhappily collide with the pastime of traditional Irish music.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 08:41 PM

If any good can come out of a sorry situation like this, it was tonights benefit concert in the Teachers Club. Great music from start to finish and huge support for the 'reel' Branch committee from some of the top names in Irish music in Dublin and in general.

The faily names involved in the concert - Glackin. O Brien, O Connor, Mulligan, Kelly to name but a few have all been associated with Cluain Tarbh over the years and all showed up to show their solidarity tonight. Other major names fromn the trad music community including Fintan Vallely, Mark Kelly and John Blake also contribnuted. Standing room only in the venue from start to finish. Not to mention the existing musicians and teachers from the Branch. A great show of support all round.

There isn't any doubt that the Branch are staunchly behind their elected leadership. Brendans scenario of the exiasting membership joining up with the unelected branch will never happen. The Branch is determined that they will be back in Classac and I for one wouldn't bet against that as an outcome.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Apr 08 - 11:47 PM

I would like to publicly and unreservedly apologize to Dick Miles for the tone of my post. I was a bit on edge this afternoon, which doesn't excuse a damn thing, but I offer it as an explanation.

And, techically, he is right. We do not have the "official" explanation, although Breandan has delivered what it is pretty well.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 02:15 AM

Jim: actually, your focus on my use of the word "charitable" was a red herring. Nothing I said had anything to do with whether the organization is an active charity. My point is that it is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promulgation of Irish traditional music, not a government. There are many ways in which such corporations are structured. Some are more democratic, some less. Most of the ones I have worked for have been less democratic than CCE.

Comhaltas actually seems to be structured in quite a democratic way. According to Breandan, whom I have no reason to doubt, the decision to dissolve the Clontarf branch was made by a committee of elected representatives. According to Eileen O'Connor, at least one of those, who apparently agreed with the ardchomairle, was in fact a member of Clontarf branch. So the branch itself was represented on the committee that made the difficult decision to discontinue the branch. Whatever anyone says, this sounds less and less like the autocratic power-grab of a mad Labhras, and more like there was at least some culpability in the branch.

Receiving public money does require a certain degree of transparency, but it's unclear what you meant in that sentence (in fact, there's no verb in the main clause: "One thing that all 'charities' music or otherwise, who are dependent on public support, from within or without,[Need? Must Have? Should Provide?] is total transparency and full accountability of action – not the case with the Clontarf affair, I believe.")   

I suspect you're overstating this. My experience is in the US, not Ireland, but it's not even clear what "total transparency and full accountability of action" means. Generally, transparency means: can the government and citizenry find out where their money went, and verify that it was not misappropriated? If you want to write to Comhaltas, request their annual reports, etc., you're likely to find that the answer is "yes," they are meeting the standards they have to meet for transparency. But it's always possible you'd catch them out. Good luck; it's not something you can find out on the Mudcat.

As for "accountability," I don't know about Ireland, but it's not the case here in the US that a board of directors of a corporation that takes public money is accountable to anyone outside the company for internal affairs such as the constitution of committees or even the hiring and firing of employees. As long as such activities are carried out LEGALLY (ie the hirings and firings and dissolving of committees are not actually illegal under US law for reasons such as racial discrimination), there is little "accountability" to the public required.

That said, if your organization seems to be behaving erratically, the Arts Council or whichever government office is the source of your funds can certainly take that into account when deciding on the next grant cycle. If you meant accountability in this limited sense, then I agree CCE needs to be careful--but they need to explain themselves primarily to their government funding sources, who represent "the people" in the question of whether and how much to fund CCE.

Sparkles: how would it do any good to know why the constitution only allows amendments every six years? No matter what the answer was, there would still be no way to change it, except by normal constitutional procedures, i.e. within the sixth-year window. It might be that there's some sinister reason of bigwigs trying to "maintain the status quo," as others have ominously put it. Or it may be that whatever organization CCE based its first draft of the constitution on had a six-year frame, and no one has ever changed it. Or it might have been hashed out in committee (eg. some people wanted four years and others wanted eight years, and six was the compromise).

It's very plausible to me, having been on committees that have established by-laws and constitutions for such organizations, that no one actually knows or remembers why six years was chosen. Given that, it's not necessarily sinister that no one is coming forward to justify or defend that decision now. And as I said, the reason is actually pretty irrelevant--if we think it needs to be changed, we should start now regardless of the original reason.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 04:00 AM

Cap'n,
"I am surely entitled to keep an open mind, until I see a response from the people in CCE who have dissolved the Clondarf branch."
And if they don't respond........? They certainly have had enough time to do so - how long are you prepared to give them?
As far as I'm concerned, Breandán has presented the official line clearly enough for me to draw a conclusion.
Nerd,
Re charities. point taken, misinterpretation on my part, not deliberate. My point on transparency and accountability remains valid, I think.
It seems clear to me that the nub of this dispute is whether the leadership of CCE should be answerable to the membership - or vise versa. I have to say that Eileen O'Connor's description of the 'dressing down of Clontarf Branch echoed perfectly the West London experience and leaves me in no doubt who should be responsible to whom as far as 'them upstairs' are concerned.
Whether the participants in this discusion are members of CCE or not is totally irrelevant; anybody interested in Irish music, or traditional music in general, and is concerned about its future has a view worth listening to, as far as I'm concerned.
In the same way, any Irish resident has a right to be assured that money coming from the public purse is being handled responsibly and openly and in the interest of Irish culture as a whole.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 06:52 AM

jim,I think the sooner they respond the better.
when I have nothing more important to do,I intend to visit comhaltas website,where I have been told there is a response.

I would agree with a lot in your last post.,particualarly your last paragraph.[the public purse is not handled very responsibly by Bertie Ahern,WITNESS Berties Bowl,a much bigger waste of money,millons wasted,the battle of Clontarf pales in to insignificance]
In my opinion the way you have worded your thread,indicates your dislike of Comhaltas,Comhaltas is an organisation that has done much good although thereareaspects of it that I would be extremely critical of.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 07:34 AM

Delighted to report a fantastic concert in the teachers' club last night, very inspirational. Thanks a million to all the performers for sharing your talent and your support with the "Reel Clontarf".

Also delighted with the turnout at the Saturday morning classes today. All 21 teachers and 200 pupils present. Brid and Diarmaid at the desk (as always). Sorry to have lost Marie Connaughton. Around 60 parents turned up at 8.30 as well in a vote of confidence again in our democratically elected committee, a good gathering.

No sign of the new "revitalised" committee who I thought were going to show to try and run our classes. Thank God, it would have been awkward to say the least.

Business as usual at St Gabriels tonight for our U-12, U-15 and U-18 bands and groups.

I dont think the new branch is going to work. Nobody wants it.

By the way Breandán, I feel your loneliness. Did you ever see the film "Dances with Wolves"? Would you consider "goin native". You know you want to..

So happy days everyone. Cluain Tarbh mar a bhí, mar atá agus mar a bheidh go deo.
beannachtaí
Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 10:52 AM

So sorry I couldn't attend the concert last night. I had to be at our Garda Club session, as two of our mainstays couldn't make it.

Just a correction on an item that has cropped up from time to time: Labhrás wasn't responsible for the report to the Oireachtas on traditional music in 1999 (though he may have written parts of it and later defended it). This was the output of an Oireachtas committee chaired by a Fianna Fáil politician whose name escapes me at the moment. Labhrás's assistance was sought to carry out "research". I read the report last week in the Traditional Music Archive and parts of it are laughable, but the whole committee and in particular the chairman should shoulder the blame for producing it.

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 12:12 PM

At the concert last night someone on stage (can't remember who) made a joke that the name of a horse running in the Grand National today nicely summarised the ultimatum received by the Branch from the Ard Comhairle - Comply or die.

I'm off to the bookies to collect my winnings.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Apr 08 - 01:42 PM

I had the second and third, each way 20 to 1 and 16 to 1.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 03:21 AM

Cap'n,
Twice now you've suggested I might have a 'hidden agenda' in raising the question of the Clontarf branch, each time using my titles for this thread as evidence.
The first title 'Battle of Clontarf' was innocuous enough and failed to get to much of a response, so I used a stronger one, which appeared to do the trick. Wish I could claim 'Comhaltas Interruptus' as my own creation, but it's a fairly popular one which came about around the time of the waves of protest at Labhrás' report in 2000.
I have never made any secret of my disagreement with certain aspects of Comhaltas policy, particularly regarding competitions; I have argued the toss with you often enough on Mudcat.
Nor have I attempted to hide my dislike and distrust of the leadership – this latest incident only serves to confirm my opinion of them.
However, I have the greatest respect and admiration for the work done on behalf of Irish music by many of the branches.
Many of the rank-and-file members are friends and have done much to boost my pleasure and increase my understanding of a music I have been involved in most of my life.
As far as I am concerned, it is they who are being handed the crappy end of the stick by a leadership who I suspect might have a 'hidden agenda' themselves.
Can I suggest that if you disagree with any of my arguments, you concentrate on them rather than tilting at imagined windmills.
Gulliver;
It appears to be fairly common knowledge that Labhrás drafted the 2000 report, which was 'nodded through' by the committee - they were then forced to take the unprecedented step of 'inviting submissions' from the many objectors - after it had been accepted!

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 03:55 AM

And I notice that six-year question has still not been answered. It's perfectly legitimate to ask why the existing rulebase cannot be challenged or amended more readily. Power does need to be kept in balance. The fact that there's no way to change things except within this time frame doesn't mean that the issue should not be addressed.

But it's been blanked. That's the oldest politician's trick in the book, just don't answer until it goes away. (If Breandán doesn't know, somebody does.) And then we become the bad guys for asking. But it's a fair question about an unfair situation and silence is not an answer. It's a dodge.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 05:44 AM

Jim,in my opinion your title does suggest a bias.
I still dont know enough about the situation to be able say who is right or wrong,it seems to be pretty complicated.
Comhaltas claim[Ithink I have this right]that a number of tradesman would have been unpaid,presumably they have now been paid by Comhaltas headquarters,.
I would have thought this more important than the dissolving of a branch,all the people in the dissolved Comhaltas branch are not going to stop playing music,They can form their own club, independent of Comhaltas,teach music, put on concerts.
many people throughout Ireland,play and teach music without Comhaltas involvement.
what really pisses me off is when people/tradesman are not paid for their work.
off thread,but if your concerned about justice try googling Equitable.a little more important,than this storm in a teacup I think.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 08:07 AM

Captain,

Of course the members of the "reel branch" can continue to play music as an independent organisation. Given the standard of Friday night's concert, they would, I think continue to attract great musicians to their events, and their clases would still be popular given the standard of their teachers.

But (also speaking from what I heard on Friday - I'm not a member) they want to stay in Comhaltas even after what has happened, as they enjoy the cameraderie with the other Branches, the ability of their members to compete in Fleadhanna Cheoil etc. And, as an independent grouping, they would have to forego the use of the Classac building which they worked very hard to put in place.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 11:25 AM

I agree the treatment does seem to have been unnecessary,unless there was a legal reason,for CCE head quarters acting as they have done,.
That doesnt mean CCE are morally right either.
If I knew the different people involved I might be able to decide who is right or wrong,but as I dont ,I can only extend my sympathy to the members of the Clontarf branch.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 04:21 PM

I would be disposed to be prejudiced against CCE HQ - after all, could anyone trust a man who has not only his hair but even his eyebrows tinted lol! - but my guiding principle is always "audi alteram partem".

So congratulations are due to Breandán for his patient and open efforts to put the other side, and for not rising to the bait on the few occasions when some people have questioned his good faith, sometimes more aggressively than necessary in what has been a remarkably even-tempered thread.

CCE's communication on this has been disastrous, and will reinforce hostility to the organisation where it exists - and many neutral observers will see this episode as autocratic mismanagement.

When I became interested in traditional music, I joined Na Píobairí Uilleann which was seen as in some senses a "splinter group" (we used to tease Dan O'Dowd who remained a member of CCE Clontarf Branch for "consorting with the enemy"). The NPU view of CCE was heavily coloured by Breandán Breathnach's characterisation of it as an over-structured organisation which spent its time debating motions about the restoration of the uilleann pipes rather than doing anything practical about them. Whatever about its specific failings in relation to the pipes, that view was in general rather unfair to an organisation which has undeniably done so much to strengthen Irish traditional music, even if at the price of a competition culture which I find unappealing.

In spite of my reservations about CCE, I supported suggestions by some people here in Brussels that we should consider setting up a branch here as a way of securing some financial support for trad music here, especially for the children who live here as expatriates (we no longer have an Irish clubhouse at our disposal because of declining membership of the Irish Club). One of the advantages that I saw in this was that it might be easier to secure sponsorship if we were a branch of a well-known national organisation. But in the light of all that I've been reading about Clontarf, I wonder if we could realistically expect any interest from CCE in our small-scale operation, never mind financial support, in the present climate. And I don't know if many Irish-related firms would even want to be associated with CCE at the moment.

I have an awful feeling that, sooner or later, resolving the conflict will lead to more money being diverted from promoting Irish music into the pockets of our learned friends in the King's Inns than we spend on the music itself. Unless, of course, Bertie is asked to deploy his legendary skills as a mediator once he steps down from the office of Taoiseach!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM

"Guest 04:21" is me, An Pluiméir Ceolmhar, gan cúicí.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Apr 08 - 08:50 PM

Bonnie,

As I said before, it won't actually do any good to know WHY the rules can only be changed every six years. And it is possible, given the way by-laws are written and passed by committee, that no one knows or remembers why it was set this way. All outrage aside, even if the leadership were to come out and say "it's so you lot of stinking plebs can't mess about with the rules very often," there wouldn't be much you could do about it--except change it next time the six year window opens. So I suggest people who don't like the rule put their energy into changing it, not finding out why it is as it is.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 11:25 AM

From today's Irish Independent web site:

Comhaltas bosses to face a 'grilling' by city councillors

Comhaltas Ceolteoiri chiefs are to be hauled before Dublin City Council to explain its handling of a major row with its largest local branch over a multi-million euro centre of excellence.

The body charged with the promotion of Irish traditional music, which received over €6m in state funding last year, is in hot water with the council over the bitter ongoing feud with the Clontarf branch.

The Sunday Independent has learned this weekend that unhappy councillors regard the dissolution of the local branch and its exclusion from the new €11 million Clasac building in Clontarf as a breach of its lease.

More at Irish Independent web site

Wow!

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 11:56 AM

A friend emailed me the URL of a support group (for whom, you might ask!) on Bebo:

Support-Cluain-Tarbh-CCE


(mind you, I'm with Dick Miles on this--LOL!)

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 12:20 PM

The second half of that news article is especially interesting. Clickie of Don's link showing the full URL below, in case anyone needs to copy-&-paste.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/comhaltas-bosses-to-face-a-grilling-by-c


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 12:21 PM

Woops. I mean

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/comhaltas-bosses-to-face-a-grilling-by-city-councillors-1339717.html?r=RSS


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 12:27 PM

Dick Miles has never defended CCE for expelling the Clontarf branch.check my posts
I would advise everyone who lives in Ireland[including the posters on this thread, to join Comhaltas],you can only change the otrganisation if you join,many of the people on this thread who criticise Comhaltas are not members,if you seriously want to change Comhaltas,I believe you will only do it by joining.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 12:29 PM

And then waiting for six years.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 01:08 PM

Dick, I hope you didn't get me wrong--I meant I agree with the following: before I come to any decision regarding who is right or wrong,I would like to hear/see both sides of the story,in the meantime I shall carry on playing music.

I think that despite the accounts (not to mention accusations), etc., made by both sides, there is more going on here than meets the eye--everything seeming to be hunky-dory since the beginning and then the sh*t hits the fan like this? IMO (I worked for many years as a project manager), It just doesn't add up.

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 02:33 PM

"would advise everyone who lives in Ireland[including the posters on this thread, to join Comhaltas],you can only change the otrganisation if you join,many of the people on this thread who criticise Comhaltas are not members,if you seriously want to change Comhaltas,I believe you will only do it by joining."
If we join CCE in order to change it, when are we going to get time to play or listen to music, as you have so often advocated.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Dick; we join thing we agree with, otherwise we'd be members of every organisation going.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Apr 08 - 02:40 PM

good reply Jim,
about time I castled,or it will be checkmate in 292 moves.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 02:17 AM

I experienced the first repercussions of the expulsion from outside of CCE yesterday.
For some time now we have been preparing the ground for the setting up of a local traditional music archive/resource/display centre, which has included working with others who are not necessarily wishing to be involved, CCE being one such.
Somebody remarked yesterday, "perhaps we shouldn't bother with them-what if they expel us and run off with our archive"!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 04:29 AM

Bebo sites (Don mentioned one abov) probably set up by the kids of our branch.

I know many of the kids in our branch well (am a parent of two in our bands and know all their friends in the branch, know most of the current children from my time helping to organise the Saturday morning classes over the last few years).

Kids are kids, and do not get bogged down in procedures and policies. They are not impressed with recent developments and are probably expressing their feelings on bebo, just as we are doing here. However I can safely say, they will continue to meet and play music together as often as they can. We adult members will do everything we can to facilitate this for them. All our teachers are staying with us, the parents will continue doing what we were doing, the venues remain the same, we survived without Clasac up until now.

The repercusions will be down the road, when it is these kids' turn to take up the mantle of passing on the music. I'm sure they will be influenced by the treatment our branch is receiving at the moment by HQ, and I cant imagine the comhaltas route being their own first choice in the future.

One thing that strikes me strongly about the new committee.
I know they see themselves as the voice of reason and experience, coming in to save the club from us "young things" (in our 40s and 50s!!)
Is this the right thing to do? If your children grew up, had children of their own, and you watched their parenting methods and didnt agree with them (not the same as in your day). Would the best line of action be to cast them aside and take over parenting your grandchildren yourself, to "save" them from your children???
I think not. You've had your chance, move on and allow progress to take its course as nature intended..

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 12:08 PM

I experienced the first repercussions of the expulsion from outside of CCE yesterday.
For some time now we have been preparing the ground for the setting up of a local traditional music archive/resource/display centre, which has included working with others who are not necessarily wishing to be involved, CCE being one such.
Somebody remarked yesterday, "perhaps we shouldn't bother with them-what if they expel us and run off with our archive"!
Jim Carroll
Jim,if you wished to work with Comhaltas,surely you could draw up a legal document stating quite clearly who the archive belongs to,and only allowing comhaltas to use it under certain conditions,which GIVES THEM NO RIGHT OF OWNERSHIP OF THE ARCHIVE.
how can they expel you,if you are not members of Comhaltas,what utter drivel.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Apr 08 - 02:46 PM

For crying out loud Cap'n what happened to trust - or are you accepting that we shouldn't trust Comhaltas unless we obtain their signature?
Of course they couldn't expel us from Comhaltas - I used the (ironic) comment to illustrate how their behaviour is being viewed at present.
I didn't mention the poster which mysteriously appeared on the wall of the local session showing a CCE logo clef in a circle with a diagonal red line through it - like a 'no smoking' sign.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 07:02 AM

Our local branch does a lot to encourage children, to play music in a non competitive atmosphere.I see many children get alot of stimulation and pleasure from this,they also get a lot of pleasure from playing in ceilidh band and grupa ceol.
Comhaltas is also the only organisation that teaches traditional music in England on a national basis.whatever the rights and wrongs of this particular case,let us not forget all the good Comhaltas has done,and is still doing.
I think it would be a pity if this thread degenerated into an excuse for comhaltas bashing.
I am not uncritical of Comhaltas,but I have witnessed first hand alot of pleasure, self esteem /skill,that children have got from being part of it.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 07:29 AM

OK, Dick. We hear you. It would also be a pity if this thread degenerated into bickering, which is what is starting to happen. You've made your point any number of times now. We know what you think. Can you stop repeating it now please?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 01:02 PM

no.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Winger
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 04:25 PM

Since this thread centers on the alledged undemocratic actions of the Comhaltas "leadership", it is ironic that some would deny Captain Birdseye his democratic rights.

Repetition does not appear to disqualify others from this thread.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 09 Apr 08 - 11:17 PM

Sometimes you have to repeat yourself, because what you say is ignored. For example, I spent almost the entirety of a long post explaining why Jim's criteria of "total transparency and full accountability of action" for an organization that receives public funding were unfair: transparency doesn't mean what he seems to think, and accountability in such decisions is generally to a board of directors who act in the public's interest, not individual members of the public who might have a problem with a particular decision. (In this case, the board itself made the decision.) Beyond that, as I said, it's unclear what "total" transparency (of what?) and "full" accountability (to whom?) would even look like.

Jim dismissively replied: "My point about transparency and accountability is still valid I think."


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 03:08 AM

Nerd,
I had no intention of being dismissive.
My argument, as far back as the 70s has been, if I am a member of CCE, are the aims and activities of that organisation close enough to my own to merit my being a member.
My criteria for transparency (of the actions of a 'somewhat remote' leadership) & accountability (to the rank and file membership) is an extremely basic one - that what a member has to say is listened to and taken into consideration on such important questions as whether a branch should continue to exist, or be wiped off the face of the map (presumably on my behalf as a member).

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddle ruairi
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:34 AM

Every seems to keep arguing with each other and forgetting the matter at hand. The way I see it is Comhaltas were wrong in their actions. Clontarf were 2million short of the money needed for the centre but Comhaltas only gave them 5 weeks to come up with it. How would that be possible for anyone? They are normal people with everydayjobs. How can they come up with that amount of money in that space of time.

Comhaltas say that they were contacted everyday by the builders (or contractors not quite sure) for god knows how long about getting paid. Thus comes the five week notice.

This along with the VAT refund is being used as an excuse by Comhaltas. They are using their building in Monkstown as collateral for payment as well because they know how valuable Clasac would be for them. They see it as their new Croke Park, a prime northside location and much more viable than Monkstown which takes ages to get to. This is all an issue of control, not about paying off Clasac. Comhaltas could very easily pay off the debt but they wont for the sake of covering their footsteps. CCE were given something like 6million from the government last year, and then you have the profit they made which reached up to 3million last year. CCE is modelled on th GAA but unlike them you dont see the money being pumped back into the music.

I also found out recently that the Dublin County Council gave the land to Clontarf under the basis it was a charity, maybe they didnt use that name. Normally the lease would have costed E200,000 a year but because they gave it to Clontarf branch they said pay only E1,500 a year. great, but now the tricky thing is is that now that Comhaltas has taken it they have to pay E200,000 every year for the lease because they are not listed as a charity. It will be interesting to see if they back out now that they now that. and again they may use Monkstown as collateral because they want to move (also they could easily get upwards of 20 million for that place.)

As for handling the situation. Ive been in contact with many people who attended the meeting between CCE and Clontarf. They said that the issue could easily have been sorted at those meetings but for the arrogance and disrespect shown by Labhras O'Murchu. Sources tell me that he was very patronising and proclaimed that the centre could not be run without the control of Comhaltas. The reason why it still has not been resolved is because of the stubborness of Labhras and the Ard Comhairle. The issue could easily have been sorted in one meeting. The reason for this goes back to control and moving CCE hq to the northside, hence Clasac.

Instead of trying to resolve the issue CCE dissolved Clontarf for no reason, not content with taking Clasac from them they had to disband the branch. What good will that do? The new replacement 'Craobh Cluain Tarbh' branch has no members, so what is the point of it being there. That is just another embarrassing move by CCE. Clontarf were dissolved for the sole reason of CCE being able to take Clasac, not to pay off the debts or to 'help' the branch. At the concert the other night for Clontarf they raised enough money I was told to pay for the insurance to run the classes and they did so on saturday in a school, and everyone turned up to show solidarity. And the concert itself was great, I have the feeling that CCE wouldn't have a chance of getting some of the big names that Clontarf had on show that night.

It doesn't matter whether you think that Clontarf should have come up with the money or a better way of raising it, it is the actions of Comhaltas that are disgraceful. They don't make any sense, dissolving the largest and one of the most successful branches in Ireland? Maybe they were afraid that if they were kept in Comhaltas that they would become too powerful within the organisation, coupled with the Clasac they could be extremely proactive, maybe more so than Comhaltas. The fact that CCE choose to tell them this through Joe Duffy and the fact that they havn't publicy made any statements apart from useless press releases shows bad PR, bad management and leadership and terrible communication not just with the public but within CCE itself. I've seen someone who works in Comhaltas making comments about their side of the story on this site and other comment sites but this is worthless. What is the point of communicating with people through some worker who has no authority for PR and representing CCE and by the means of COMMENTING PAGES! this is worthless stuff, CCE needs to come forward publicly. It is the children they are punishing, the parents only run the Clontarf branch it is the children who play in the competitions and make the branch what it is, dissolving the branch only betrays them. This approach was hot-headed and a 'digging-our-heels-in' effort by Comhaltas and the sooner this is resolved on the side of Clontarf the better.

And if people are wondering what I am basing all of this on (I dont know why people are so picky on these sites) I played in the concert for clontarf and I study journalism so i'd like think I can whip up a few facts seeing as it is what I do most days in college. This is a non biased view because the facts are plain to see and if no-one can see that well...I dont know! god help ye! haha!

cheers.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddle ruairi
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:36 AM

sorry the first word there is suppose to be 'Everyone'.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 06:34 AM

CCE needs to come forward publicly. It is the children they are punishing, the parents only run the Clontarf branch it is the children who play in the competitions and make the branch what it is, dissolving the branch only betrays them.
I am amember of Comhaltas.
I agree,with this paragraph.I agree they should come forward publicly.Dick Miles[ member of CCE Skibbereen branch]


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 05:05 PM

Ruairi,

Many of your points have been addressed by earlier posts, so I'd refer you to them. To select a couple:

* There wasn't "5 weeks to come up with the 2 million", but rather a full year of negotiations to get the funding in place. The branch failed to do so.

* There are no plans move the headquarters of Comhaltas to Clontarf. There is no reason to do so, and it has never been discussed.

* Comhaltas itself is registered a charity, Clontarf is not.

* There's no "taking the building" going on. The building is on a site leased to Comhaltas, and was always to be vested in Comhaltas. The branch committee was simply responsible for managing construction, etc.

* Comhaltas has "come forward" with a statement. I'm not sure what exactly you're looking for, but the situation has been reasonably well explained at this point.

In any event, I'd refer you to those earlier discussions to get a better sense of what's going on.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,fiddleruairi
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 06:15 PM

fair enough, i wrote that mainly to get people back to the oint of the argument because you'll probably agree that it was turning into a bit of a bickering match! haha!

in relation to comhaltas though i just want to say coming forward though i meant really to explain why the branch was dissolved because surely the matter could have been resolved when they were still in CCE. you'll probably agree with the point that it drags unnecessary casualties into the problem you know? thats all really!
cheers!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Diarmaid
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 07:29 PM

Breandán,

Now that you're back answering questions, perhaps you could answer those which I asked on 3rd April.

Specifically in relation to the following:

1. How many of the documents submitted by the branch for the attention of the Ardchomhairle members, during the 2 months prior to the branch's dissolution, were actually distributed by Labhrás & Co to the Ardchomhairle members?

2. How can you have no idea on what basis Clontarf applied for a VAT refund when, as you know, Comhaltas HQ worked closely with the branch in agreeing the VAT application process and they supplied most of the information required.

3. In relation to your claims on the democratic nature of the Ardchomhairle:
What do you mean by 'their home districts'? Please specify the home districts.
What do you mean by 'accountable to'? Please specify how they are accountable to their home districts?
Can you tell me who elected the 31 voluntary officers?
How many members were co-opted onto the Ardchomhairle?

I hope you're not going to spout Labhrás' line about the Ardchomhairle being elected by the general membership. How can the general membership vote for them when HQ won't even divulge who they are?
As you say that 'the membership of the central council would be public record', I'm sure you can give their details without any problem.

Once again, looking forward to answers to my questions.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 09:05 PM

You can discuss this controversy till the cows come home. In real life, every week around Dublin I'm listening to music being played by youngsters who met through Comhaltas. Tonight I've just returned from a brilliant session in one of my local pubs, mainly Comhaltas musicians, none of them over 20, but music to cry for. This is what it's all about. Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 04:27 AM

Breandán,

I quote from your last bulletin:

"
There's no "taking the building" going on. The building is on a site leased to Comhaltas, and was always to be vested in Comhaltas. The branch committee was simply responsible for managing construction, etc.
"

Cluain Tarbh membership was unaware that our efforts over all those years was simply to MANAGE CONSTRUCTION of CLASAC.

Somehow, we were under the impression that our efforts to make the whole project happen, would result in our branch being majorly involved in the finished centre.

Your comment implies that there was NEVER ANY INTENTION of Cluain Tarbh being involved once the construction was complete.
Please tell me I'm misunderstanding your comment.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 07:33 AM

From: Gulliver - PM
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 09:05 PM

You can discuss this controversy till the cows come home. In real life, every week around Dublin I'm listening to music being played by youngsters who met through Comhaltas. Tonight I've just returned from a brilliant session in one of my local pubs, mainly Comhaltas musicians, none of them over 20, but music to cry for. This is what it's all about. Don
Good Point.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 08:26 AM

Eileen,

You are correct that Clasac was never going to be "run" by the branch, in the sense that the branch would own the building or have majority representation on the board. However, I wouldn't say that the branch "wouldn't be involved". Besides using the building as their own headquarters, the branch would appoint a minority of the governing board, and probably be responsible for many of the entertainments taking place in the building. It would be Clontarf musicians and dancers, for example, who would be the nightly (paid) entertainers during the summer tourist season. The centre would also be the base for Clontarf education programmes, such as fielding and training more music teachers for North Dublin schools.

The ownership and operation of the centre, though, was agreed very early on as a national Comhaltas project. In point of fact, your chairman did not actually sign the agreement in time, so there isn't a formal agreement in place on the distribution of responsibilities between the ardchomhairle and the branch. But even under the tentative agreement (which I think will still be honoured), there was not majority Clontarf control of the building.

I recognise that the actual agreements and arrangements were not communicated at all well to the branch members, especially by the committee, whose job it was. The resultant outrage is all the more strident because of the misunderstanding.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 11 Apr 08 - 08:41 AM

Diarmud,

As I'm not on the Ardchomhairle, I don't have all the answers to your questions.

"1. How many of the documents submitted by the branch for the attention of the Ardchomhairle members, during the 2 months prior to the branch's dissolution, were actually distributed by Labhrás & Co to the Ardchomhairle members?"

I do not have knowledge of which documents were distributed and when. I know that representatives of the Ardchomhairle met many times with the branch leadership in the time leading up to the suspension, and the branch point-of-view was certainly put forward at those meetings. There were at least a dozen such meetings, I believe.

"2. How can you have no idea on what basis Clontarf applied for a VAT refund when, as you know, Comhaltas HQ worked closely with the branch in agreeing the VAT application process and they supplied most of the information required."

I'm not sure exactly what you're asking me. I am not aware of the basis on which Clontarf applied independently for a VAT refund, and I know that their action in doing so was one which precipitated the crisis. I'm not aware of any "HQ" involvement, though perhaps you could be more specific. We're not an interchangeable mass of people, after all.

"3. In relation to your claims on the democratic nature of the Ardchomhairle:
What do you mean by 'their home districts'? Please specify the home districts.
What do you mean by 'accountable to'? Please specify how they are accountable to their home districts?
Can you tell me who elected the 31 voluntary officers?
How many members were co-opted onto the Ardchomhairle?"

The members of the Ardchomhairle (central executive council) are democratically elected by the membership of the provincial councils. Provincial councils are elected from the county boards, and county boards are elected from the branches. This is a straightforward and typical hierarchal representative democracy.

Again, I'm not sure exactly what you're asking: members of the council are elected from the Leinster, Ulster, Connacht, Munster, North America and Britain provincial committees. They are accountable to each of these districts. As always, if you don't like your representation, just elect someone else to represent you. Clontarf elects delegates directly in the Dublin county board, which elects delegates to Leinster, which elects delegates to the Ardchomhairle.

There are also a few of people who have been asked to join sub-committees of the Ardchomhairle (Music, Archive, Events, etc.) based on special knowledge, reputation or skills.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Tommy
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 04:12 AM

It seems to me that members of the Ard Chomhairle don't feel the need to reply.

Brendan has been giving an honest response considering that he has made sure to say that he's not speaking on behalf of CCE although he's happens to work for them.

I'm not criticising Brendans efforts at all. Even though most here disagree with his standpoint he is still making a valiant effort to speak for CCE HQ when no-one one on the Ard Chomhairle seems to want to.

I think it's time for the Ard Chomhairle to give reasons for the dissolution of the branch.

We are hearing stories here and there but no-one has described why the dissolution of the branch in charge of Clasac would make things better.

Why does creating a new CCE branch make the so-called financial troubles go away.

I'd love to know why the dissolution of a 45 year old CCE branch will make this all better. What can the new commitee do that hasn't been done already?

Nothing I'd say.


Tommy


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 12:57 PM

Why does creating a new CCE branch make the so-called financial troubles go away.
well,if I might hazard a guess,could it be a legal way of dissolving responsibility for debts?,rather like a limted company going into liquidation?
I am not saying it is,just asking a question.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Breandán
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM

There's no question of bankruptcy or evading responsibility for debts. The former committee was dissolved because it consistently mis-managed their side of a joint construction project, refused to take advice on financial resolution, and was deemed to put Comhaltas as a whole into disrepute. While I have enormous sympathy for the branch members caught in the middle, it was their elected representatives who put the branch into jeopardy. The branch members voted to "work with Comhaltas", yes, but without the executive committee coming up with an arrangement to share both responsibility and debts for the project, contractors were remaining unpaid. The resultant months-long stand-off was not good for anyone, including the reputation of the branch.

As I've said before, I believe that a fundamental error was made by the branch in allowing the recently-elected executive committee to also run the construction project. That conflict-of-interest meant that when things got out of hand, there was no restraining influence within the branch to put things back on track. By thinking of the theatre project as exclusively "their project" rather than as a shared responsibility to manage other people's money, a mindset developed whereby Maurice's committee stopped paying attention to what was in the best interest of the branch, the project, and Comhaltas as a whole, and focused instead on maintaining their own personal control. In the process, they failed to communicate the situation (or, apparently, even the nature of the shared project) to the branch membership they represented.

In the end, the branch committee was dissolved because there was no other choice. In the long run, that decision will probably turn out to be the right one if it gets the building operational, to the credit of the branch and the movement as a whole. It was an unfortunate, wrenching, and ultimately necessary decision.

OK. At this point, we're definitely re-hashing old ground that I believe has been covered earlier. Though I appreciate that many here disagree with my assessment of the situation, I thank you for your kind attention and (mostly) civil discourse. Like everyone else here, I will be looking forward to future developments relating to Craobh Chluain Tarbh and to the Clasaċ centre. If someone wants to email me privately off-list, I will do my best to respond.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: dílis
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 02:47 PM

Do I sense a shifting of the goalposts yet again by Breandán and HQ in Monkstown?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,the white rabbit
Date: 12 Apr 08 - 10:21 PM

It took a very long time to make up the charges, and now we've had to revise them yet again. Maybe this time sometime will believe us. Good job we got the sentence in first.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 06:11 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but had the takeover of the project not happened before the Branch was dissolved? The dissolution of the Branch was over the VAT issue, which people on both sides of this debate have agreed was somethoing of a red herring.

The only justification I can find for the dissolution was that the Árd Comhairle were upset that the Branch didn't comply with the direction to give the refund money to the Árd Comhairle. Can someone who does speak for the Árd Comhairle please explain why this was such a big issue as to warrant dissolution?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 02:58 PM

Just heard the story of the Michael Coleman Centre in Gurteen (Sligo) and am beginning to wonder if Comhaltas hasn't shifted from music to real estate!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 03:15 PM

Hi, Jim

I don't know the story you mean, but many theatre and music promotion organizations have found that the best way to ensure their chosen art form has a venue is in fact to own the venue. Otherwise, they are constantly competing for space in existing venues. So the two are not incompatible. Of course, if the organization loses focus and begins to just manage real estate, that becomes a problem...but as far as I know, it rarely happens.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 03:17 PM

Whats this about the Michael Coleman Centre Jim?

Another Clasach in the making?. Do tell more


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: dílis
Date: 13 Apr 08 - 06:25 PM

If i'm not wrong Bru Bru also had a troubled start! Does anyone know the details?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 03:09 AM

The story - as I have it is, the locals from Michael Coleman's birthplace Gurteen, in Sligo, raised the money and build a (rather magnificent, I have heard) music centre in the town.
They organised a fund-raising event and invited the relevant Government minister Eamonn O'Quiv, who was apparently so impressed that he offered to supply the money required out of Government funds.
Shortly afterwards he appeared to have second thoughts; he agreed to supply the cash, but insisted that he would only give it to Comhaltas, who, as far as I can ascertain, had nothing whatever to do with the project (but does have a director who is a State Senator).
The building was duly signed over to Comhaltas - and that is the situation at present.
I have to say that this happened some time ago. I have been vaguely aware of the situation for some time, but I was only able to find out this much yesterday.
Would love to be told that these details are right or wrong!
Off for a couple of days break - but I'll be back!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 03:44 AM

does not blame lie with Eamonn de Cuiv, The state senator and the government.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 08:51 AM

Blame for what??


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 09:48 AM

the blame for having their building taken away from them[them being the people of Gurteen].


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 10:41 AM

Made some enquiries re Gurteen and from what I have learned, the people of Gurteen (i.e. Coleman Heritage Centre) are very resistant to relinquish the building and perhaps more importantly, the valuable archive, to CCE HQ


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Apr 08 - 09:01 PM

Breandán,

In your last contribution, you state twice and I've noticed it in some of your previous contributions, that the Cluain Tarbh committee was dissolved. Is this the latest spin being put on events by Head Office. You are well aware that the branch as a whole was dissolved rather than simply the branch committee.

You are also aware that the CLASAĊ project committee was not the same as the branch committee although it did share some members. The project manager was, and is, a head-office employee.

There was no mismanagement on the part of the branch although it seems that head office may well have made a mess of things with regard to how they handled the VAT and subsequently dissolved the branch in an attempt to cover their tracks.

The branch members voted for the Ardchomhairle to work with the branch to resolve remaining difficulties and complete the project. The Buanchoiste under Labhrás Ó Murchú's direction refused to meet with the committee, and on the advice of Labhrás / the Buanchoiste, the Ardchomhairle took control of CLASAĊ and dissolved the branch.

At all times, the branch executive acted with the interest of Comhaltas in mind. That is why we pleaded with Labhrás and the Buanchoiste to seek expert tax advice of their own, rather than blindly instructing us to transfer the VAT into HQ's account, an action which we were advised might leave Comhaltas as a whole open to huge tax liabilities. It seems, however, that Labhrás is not one to listen to advice.

I take umbrage at your reference to 'Maurice's committee', whatever implication is meant by it. The committee was voted in by the members of the branch at our AGM. We are all volunteers (apart from 1 member who works for HQ), giving our time, effort and money to build the CLASAĊ centre. Admittedly, I was naïve enough to think that our efforts would be supported by HQ. I will never again be so naïve in relation to Labhrás Ó Murchú or Comhaltas HQ.
Whereas we are volunteers, you are paid by HQ. Should I refer to you as Labhrás' Breandán?

When you say 'the branch committee was dissolved because there was no other choice', do you mean Labhrás gave the Ardchomhairle no other choice? Perhaps if our correspondence had been passed to them, or if we had been allowed meet with them as the branch had requested, there would have been another choice. I'm sure that they had very little choice based on the story as they were told it.
I would point out again, however, that it was the branch that was dissolved and not just the branch committee.

You say that the elected representatives put the branch in jeopardy. How?
We were instructed to perform an illegal action in relation to the VAT and suspended and dissolved for failure to do so.
Since then, Labhrás and others, such as you Breandán, have made ridiculous claims about mismanagement, financial irregularities and various other allegations. If Head Office were aware of such matters, why did they never contact the branch or the branch executive to make them aware of them? Because these allegations are total fabrications!

If anything I've said is wrong, enlighten me – but give details instead of your usual sweeping generalities.

In relation to your posting of 11 APR 08 – 08:41 AM, you asked that I be more specific regarding HQ's involvement with the VAT claim. Labhrás Ó Murchú strongly advised the CLASAĊ committee to pursue a VAT refund claim on the same basis as had been done successfully by Comhaltas in the past. The branch was specifically directed to the HQ financial advisor for help on the VAT process and the branch then worked closely with HQ and its financial advisor in processing the VAT registration and claim.

Apart from that Breandán, I'm still waiting for details of the Ardchomhairle membership.
How many members are elected from each of the provincial committees?
How many members have been co-opted onto the Ardchomhairle?
Please supply names of the Ardchomhairle members. You stated that it was a matter of public record who they were. If you won't give me their names, can you tell me what public record they can be found in?

Diarmaid


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen
Date: 15 Apr 08 - 03:53 AM

Breandan

Thanks for purposely misinterpreting my last question too.

You have many of the answers and must be close to the centre of HQ, Please answer the following:

What date is the CLASAC theatre opening?
Will the staff be appointed by open competition?
If not,
Who will be CEO?
Who will be musical director?
How will the musicians be selected?
Who will provide the dancers?

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Glasnost
Date: 15 Apr 08 - 06:23 AM

Breandan,
I think you have been trying to defend the indefensible.
This whole affair has been badly mismanaged by Comhaltas HQ and if a private-sector organisation managed it's affairs in the same way, it would be out of business long ago.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 15 Apr 08 - 02:00 PM

Glasnost,

Comhaltas, despite its fondness for Government funding is a private sector organisation. If it were a public sector organisation it would be much more open to public scrutiny.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Emmo
Date: 16 Apr 08 - 05:03 PM

I have been following this dispute with interest. I have looked at all the arguments from both sides but I am still confused about one thing. The Clontarf branch have been criticised for getting in above their collective heads. But why did Labhras O Murchu allow the project to proceed if Clontarf did not have sufficient resources at their disposal?
Such criticism does seem a little rich coming now! Surely the correct time for this criticism would have been BEFORE embarking on the construction of the centre. If the allegation is true then surely Sen O Murchu should have pulled the plug before the construction phase. So why didn't he?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 16 Apr 08 - 10:38 PM

Lucky you, Guest Emmo, that you are only "confused about one thing". Most of us are confused about the whole damn mess.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 16 Apr 08 - 11:16 PM

Here in Boston we rent space & hallsbuilding but if the matter of getting a building set up I'd be very suspicious of the future. I wonder how this effects any other branches that would've been considering there own site? Scary

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Apr 08 - 02:40 AM

I assume from the reaction (or lack of reaction) to my comments about Gurteen, that my information is correct. Aren't the similarities of what as happened there and at Clontarf spooky - to say the least.
Cap'n,
If we need to debate the rights and wrongs of the Director of Comhaltas, who is a State Senator, taking advantage of his political position to influence an Arts Minister who has neither knowledge nor experience of traditional music in order to take over a project that he and his organisation had no part in developing - we really have nothing whatever to say to each other!
The same undue influence was used somewhat cynically in preparing the report for the Oireachtas, which was originally supposed to be - and I quote - 'a report on the state and the needs of Irish traditional music'. What we got instead was a blatant piece of partisan propaganda on behalf of CCE at the expense of all the other organisations and individuals working for Irish traditional music - The report was, quite rightly, in my opinion, widely opposed and eventually shelved.
I have no idea what head office has in mind for Clontarf and Gurteen, but I am not left with a great deal of hope if Bru Boru is anything to go by.
Up to now I have never visited Bru Boru - I rectified that on Monday - oh dear!!!.
A bland mixture of touch panel displays containing a commentary of highly suspect history and information plus pretty pictures, a film of a Fleadh Ceol with unsatisfactory and uninformative snatches of music and song, a poorly stocked bookshop (and a talking tree!!!), all housed in an extremely expensive building and sited in a prime position had me coming away with the overwhelming feeling - WHAT A WASTE.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Apr 08 - 04:56 AM

Jim,I agree with you up to a point.I am trying to say that it is not the fault of Comhaltas members ,comhaltas employees,or comnhaltas branches,but the fault of the state senator[who happens to be a Comhaltas member] , and the fault of the government minister concerned.
I as a Comhaltas member was not even aware it had happened.and agree with you that it shouldnt have happened.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Kiero
Date: 18 Apr 08 - 04:56 AM

The following is the text of a motion to be put before Dublin City Council by Councillor Naoise O'Muirí on Monday 21st of April:

If you are a resident of Dublin, maybe you could contact your local councillor seeking his support for the motion.
It could be of significant help in resolving this dispute.

"You may be aware of a recent dissolution of the Clontarf branch of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann ? see www.cluaintarbh.net

I believe the National Executive has questions to answer in its treatment of the local Branch and in order to seek resolution I tabled the following simple and straightforward Motion for Monday?s Area
Meeting:

"
3252.        Motion in the name of Councillor Naoise O? Muirí

That this Committee agrees to invite the Executive of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann to appear before it to:
a)        Provide a definitive position regarding the current status of the
Clasac facility in Clontarf
b)        Explain how the current unacceptable situation can be resolved to
the satisfaction of all parties.
"
Any support you can give to the Motion would be appreciated as the situation needs to be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,London (found this on a Google Search!!)
Date: 18 Apr 08 - 10:15 PM

It would be interesting to know what was the original building budget? design?
Who approved the overspend and did the branch understand the use of the building? Who was the Project Manager?
How many classrooms does the building contain for teaching Irish music?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 19 Apr 08 - 09:13 PM

Why don't you phone up Comhaltas HQ on Monday and ask them?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 01:45 PM

21 questions and supplied answers by the "reel" Clontarf Branch. It makes interesting reading.

1. Why was Clontarf Branch Dissolved?
Comhaltas HQ notified Clontarf branch of its decision to suspend and ultimately dissolve the branch on 6 February because of its refusal to transfer a VAT refund to HQ, notwithstanding previous correspondence where the branch had pointed out that this would be illegal and would leave the branch officers personally liable to the Revenue Commissions for the amount (€739,000) of the refund. HQ went ahead with the dissolution, and in its formal notification of 14 March, listed a host of other spurious reasons for dissolution not originally notified to the branch at the time of suspension.

2. What is the VAT issue?
The operator of any commercial business that is registered for VAT is entitled to a refund of VAT in defined circumstances. As part of its plans to run the Clasac centre, Clontarf branch registered for VAT and applied for the VAT refund to the Revenue Commissioners, which it was granted. Where the terms of a VAT refund change, e.g. where a business ceases to operate, or a business changes hands, the refund has to be repaid to Revenue, otherwise penalties accrue. It is of course open to the new operators of a business to apply for a VAT refund in their own name. Once Clontarf branch ceased to be the operator of the Clasac centre, and the body to whom the VAT refund had specifically been made, it was under a legal obligation to repay the VAT refund to the Revenue Commissioners. Having taken expert tax advice, the branch Executive Committee decided on 9 February to return the VAT to the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with Section 12(4) VAT Act 1972. The Revenue Commissioners subsequently confirmed in writing that the branch had followed the correct course of action. The dissolution of the branch in the circumstances was, to say the least, perverse.

3. Did the branch register for VAT and claim a VAT refund on its own initiative as claimed by Comhaltas HQ?
Absolutely not. At a meeting on 11 September 2006, the Ardstiúrthóir advised the branch to pursue a claim for a VAT refund on the same basis as had been done successfully by Comhaltas in the past for other Centres. The branch was specifically directed to the HQ financial advisor for help on the VAT process. The branch then worked closely with HQ and its financial advisor in processing the VAT registration and claim. However, when the branch received the VAT refund HQ demanded that it be paid to its own account. In addition to the issue of conflict with the Branch's legal obligations, such an arrangement would also have diverted funds needed to offset the costs of Clasac from the branch to HQ.

4. Were there changes to a VAT return as alleged by HQ in the news media?
Absolutely not - no VAT returns were changed. As requested by the Ardstiúrthóir, the chairman of the branch and Clasac Development Team signed the construction contract. The contractors' invoices therefore should have been made out to "Clasac Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann" but HQ incorrectly proceeded to get the invoices issued to themselves. Accordingly, the contractor agreed to a request from the branch and HQ to correct his invoices to show the proper name and address of the Clasac entity. No other invoice details of any nature were changed. The malicious accusation of impropriety by HQ in relation to VAT is an example of the campaign they have conducted against the branch and its officers in an attempt to justify their own improper actions in dissolving the branch.

5. Was there a double claim of VAT as alleged by HQ?
No, not by Clontarf Branch. Although HQ advised the branch to make the claim for a refund of VAT for Clasac, it was only after Clontarf received the refund that HQ flagged a possible duplication in its own claim to the Department of Arts, Sports & Tourism for payment under the capital grant. The branch wrote to HQ on 13 December suggesting that the matter be brought immediately to the attention of the Department and their advice sought to clarify the issue. HQ instructed the branch not to approach the Department on the matter, and subsequently informed the branch that it had obtained oral advice from the Department, including that the Department had insisted that the VAT refund should be transferred to a HQ account, rather than be retained for the benefit of the Clasac project. Requests to HQ by the branch for sight of correspondence or notes of discussions with the Department on the issue have been ignored.

On the face of it, either HQ made a duplicate claim in error, or it had the intention in any case that any VAT refund granted to the Clasac centre would be put into a HQ account rather than used by Clasac to make payments to contractors

6. Why did Clontarf not put funding in place to pay contractors?
Clontarf branch successfully negotiated a bank loan facility needed to meet all its obligations to contractors. This loan was part of the Clasac business and funding plan agreed with HQ from the outset. At the last minute, HQ refused to support the branch by guaranteeing the loan, as provided for in the Comhaltas Bunreacht, using the Clasac building itself as collateral for the loan, as had always been envisaged and is normal practice for bank loans of this type. This was a complete turnaround as HQ had been a party to the bank negotiations and had up to then led us to believe that they were supportive.

In addition, a €2m interim overdraft facility that HQ agreed to make available to the Clasac project pending the bank loan was also inexplicably withdrawn. Had this been made available while the bank funding was being finalised there would have been no delay of payment to suppliers. The actions of HQ also put Clontarf branch in the position of being unable to make any further payments to suppliers.

7. Did HQ propose any other options for providing collateral for the loan?
At the branch EGM on 8 January, Buanchoiste representatives suggested to the branch members that they should put up their own houses as collateral for the loan. Even at this stage, HQ insisted that any bank loan would become a charge on the general assets of Comhaltas even though the bank had already agreed in writing that the loan would be ring-fenced to the Clasac building.

8. Did Clontarf branch neglect to fundraise as claimed by HQ?
Clontarf branch secured very significant funding for the Clasac project. It was also a major player in putting together the Comhaltas Development Plan and in securing the major public funding for it, covering the Clasac project and other Comhaltas centres. The branch has been working on the Clasac project for 15 years. It secured two direct grants amounting to some €1.5M from the Government, it fundraised over €100,000 to cover all the initial planning and design costs of the centre. It secured the site (worth about €3m) on a 99-year lease. We also secured the required €2m bank loan and, as late as December 2007, the branch also raised a further €240,000 from Dublin City Council.

9. Was the project mismanaged resulting in significant cost overruns?
The project was not mismanaged in any way, and HQ's allegation that the cost of the project "doubled" is completely without foundation. The project Architect supported by the Quantity Surveyor confirmed to the branch EGM on 8 January, attended by representatives of HQ and the Buanchoiste that project costs were very well managed and the final cost was in line with the original projections.

10. What was the original cost estimate?
The projected cost in April 2005 was in excess of €7m. On 11 September 2006 the branch representatives were informed by the Ardstiúrthóir that the project was earmarked to receive €6.9 million in public funding over 3 years. The branch and HQ also agreed at that meeting that bank loans would be necessary to cover any shortfall between the €6.9m grants and the final cost.

11. Were there any additional costs on the project?
Additional costs arose in autumn 2006 when the architect advised that the cost of removing contaminated soil from the site, the provision of waste and water services and necessary additional engineering services would cost an extra €1.375m. These extra costs were part funded by an additional grant of €0.9 million for the project approved by the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism. The estimated final cost at the time came to about €8.8m, which compares very favourably with the final project cost of €8.98m.

12. Was funding taken from other Comhaltas projects to cover Clasac costs?
Clasac didn't need or take any funding from other projects. In a meeting with the Department of Arts Sport and Tourism on 2 June 2005, Comhaltas sought a grant of €6m for Clasac. This €6m was part of an overall request for €9.75m for a total of 6 Comhaltas projects, i.e. over 60% of the public capital funding originally sought for the development programme from the Department was earmarked for Clasac. The Department also subsequently approved a further €0.9m to cover the additional costs referred to in question 11 above.

13. Did the branch promise funding to a supplier and then fail to pay?
On approval by the Revenue Commissioners of the claim for a VAT refund, the branch contacted the main contractor and arranged that they be paid as a priority out of the refund proceeds. In the meantime, HQ decided that there was a conflict between the grant claims which they had made to the Department of Arts and the VAT refund, and they told the branch to pay the VAT to the HQ account. Clontarf immediately informed the supplier in question of the situation and said it would make the payment once the bank loan, currently being finalised, was in place, and the contractor was happy with that. However, HQ's subsequent refusal to guarantee the loan using the Clasac building as collateral as had previously been agreed, and its withdrawal of a previous offer of an interim overdraft facility, effectively tied the hands of the branch and prevented it from access to any funds to pay suppliers.

14. Did the branch make its case to the Ardchomhairle and County Board?
Clontarf branch made numerous attempts to inform the Ardchomhairle (AC) and the Dublin County Board of the facts of its position, to correct the misstatements and allegations made against it, and to appeal the decision to suspend and dissolve it. Correspondence detailing our case was given to the Ardrúnaí for distribution to the AC but was withheld, and all our requests for meetings were turned down or ignored. The branch representatives to the County Board were asked not to attend meetings, and again our correspondence was not allowed to be distributed. This amounts to censorship and a fundamental absence of justice and fair dealing. Some very serious decisions were taken against the branch and we got no hearing at any level.

15. Was Clontarf branch given any right of appeal?
Although the Comhaltas constitution provides for appeals, no avenue of appeal was allowed to the branch. This is an extraordinary denial of natural justice and a basic right to the branch and raises huge questions about the actions of the Ardchomhairle and the way the whole Comhaltas organisation is governed.

16. What about the investigation undertaken by the Buanchoiste?
HQ has said that such an investigation was carried out, but the branch was not aware of any such investigation at the time, nor has it seen any subsequent report. We have no knowledge of what it was about, who carried it out or what the outcome was. We would have expected, in all fairness, to have been involved if there was an investigation on any issue relating to the branch, and particularly as accusations are now being made against us on the basis of it. The branch solicitor is seeking a copy of the investigation report from HQ. Requests for copies of relevant minutes of Ardchomhairle meetings relating to actions taken against the branch have been turned down on the basis that they are "secret".

17. Has the Executive Committee of the branch kept its members informed?
In the letter of dissolution of 14 March, HQ accused the branch of a serious breach of the Bunreacht by the Executive Committee failing to bring key correspondence to the attention of a full meeting of the branch. Aside from being another questionable reason for dissolving the branch put forward after the event, this allegation is purely mischievous. The branch Executive Committee (composed of 19 members) discussed all correspondence from HQ in detail and during the 10 week period from early January to mid March the whole branch met on 4 separate nights to discuss all matters. Unprecedented numbers attended on all occasions and there was overwhelming support for the Executive Committee. The unanimous vote of confidence in the branch Executive Committee at the general meeting on 19 March undermines HQ's allegation.

The openness of the Clontarf Branch is in marked contrast to the secret, closed activities of HQ, which since early January has rejected or ignored all branch requests for meetings

18. Has the branch prepared plans for running Clasac?
Yes. The branch's Clasac Development Team prepared a robust Business Plan with the assistance of professional consultants, CHL Consulting. This was the sound basis on which public funding was secured and the bank loan was negotiated. It is ready to be implemented, and a team of volunteers from the branch is also ready to ensure the success of the centre. A fundamental element of the Plan is the full participation of the reservoir of artistic talent and performance experience of the Clontarf branch in the presentation of first class shows aimed at the tourist market, and the revenue generated from these will support other "community activities" delivered from the centre.

The agreed Board arrangements should also be put in place immediately as this is the best way of ensuring the successful start-up of the centre.

19. Who are the so-called "reconstituted" branch?
A so-called "reconstituted" branch has been formed following a private meeting at which democratically elected Clontarf members were excluded. This unelected committee, supported by HQ and Dublin County Board, is comprised for the most part of persons related to members of the Ardchomhairle and HQ staff. The members of Clontarf branch, including all the teachers, have overwhelmingly rejected this group as divisive, undemocratic and opportunistic.

20. What has happened to Clontarf branch since dissolution?
The Branch is continuing all its activities, as unanimously decided at a general meeting of members on 19 March, which also mandated the existing Executive Committee to continue. Our teaching programmes and all other activities are back in place. The branch also organised a very successful benefit concert on 4 April last at which all the great traditional musical families in Dublin performed to show their support. Messages of support from a great many branches at home and abroad and from the community generally have continued to flow in, for which we are most grateful.

21. What does Clontarf branch want to happen now?
The branch wants the dissolution rescinded and to be back driving the Clasac project. Even after all that has happened to it, the branch still believes that Comhaltas on the ground, which comprises the vast majority of members, is a truly great organisation. However, we also expect the management and leadership of such an organisation to respect, value and support its committed volunteer members and to treat everyone with dignity and fair play.

The appalling treatment meted out to our branch regrettably sends out a very clear message to our members, the traditional music world, other branches of Comhaltas, and particularly to the thousands of young Comhaltas members that bullying, harassment, exclusion and malicious and false accusations is acceptable and will succeed as a way of carrying on business. This diminishes the organisation and its standing as a real force for good in 21st century Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 29 Apr 08 - 01:54 PM

What happened on 21st April re the motion to be put before Dublin City Council by Councillor Naoise O'Muirí?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: George Henderson
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 01:50 PM

yes it would be good to know what heppended.

I have heard that Bru Boru is a private limited company with 2 shareholders. Is this fiction or fact.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 01:59 PM

See the last two posts (19th April) in this related thread. Not necessarily an answer to your question, but interesting:

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=110473#2318999


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: dílis
Date: 01 May 08 - 08:19 PM

We havent heard much from the so called 'reconstituted' branch of cluain tarbh. Will they be entering junior ceili bands and grupai in the Dublin Fleadh?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Danno
Date: 02 May 08 - 08:58 AM

Re: Dublin City Council intervention

I understand that Dublin City Council North Central Area Committee discussed the motion on April 21st and has agreed to invite representatives of Comhaltas Clontarf and National Comhaltas Organisation to a private meeting prior to the next Area Committee meeting for round table discussion.

It will be interesting to see how this discussion works out.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Bronco
Date: 02 May 08 - 09:03 AM

Heard that the Comhaltas Annual Congress is on in Monkstown this week-end.
Any delegates out there know if this issue is on the agenda or will any questions be asked about it?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: MARINER
Date: 02 May 08 - 07:30 PM

According to this evenings news on RTE expelled members of the Clontarf Branch are going to lobby delegates to the Annual Congress this evening .


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 03 May 08 - 01:49 PM

From the Irish Times Saturday May 3rd

The Clontarf branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann has spent 15 years working on the new Clasac centre. So why has Comhaltas HQ dissolved it just before the project reaches fruition?

FOUNDED IN 1951 to preserve and promote Irish traditional music, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí­ Éireann has 400 branches in 15 countries, spanning four continents, with some 40,000 members worldwide. It has built its reputation on music teaching and competitive performance across all age ranges.

But Dublin's northside traditional music fraternity has been consumed by the decision of the Ard Comhairle of Comhaltas to dissolve its Clontarf branch (Craobh Cluain Tarbh) in a row centred on the stewardship of a new flagship traditional arts centre.

On March 14th, the Ard Comhairle took a decision to dissolve the 400-member branch, alleging irregularities in relation to a VAT refund. The Ard Comhairle also cited the local branch's alleged inability to fund a €2 million overspend on the €9 million Clasac building project and unilaterally appointed a "reconstituted branch" in Clontarf, which members of the dissolved branch have refused to recognise.

Comhaltas's Clontarf branch has been teaching traditional music in Dublin for 45 years. Its plan was to become the anchor tenant of the new Clasac centre, which, it was envisaged, would generate revenue by staging traditional music and dance productions. Clasac, located on the Alfie Byrne Road in Dublin's East Wall, includes a 250-seat auditorium, a recording studio, an archive/library, an intimate performance space and two bars.

Following what the Clontarf branch views as its illegal dissolution, it has since reconvened, under the new title of Ceoltóirí Cluain Tarbh, and continues to deliver its weekly music classes in an alternative venue. Diarmaid Mac Domhnaill, secretary of Ceoltóirí Cluain Tarbh, reports that this newly-minted branch has witnessed an increase in student numbers attending its classes, despite the combative nature of its current relationship with Comhaltas HQ in Monkstown.

Maurice Mullen, chair of the Clontarf branch, is disappointed at the treatment meted out by the Ard Comhairle. Clontarf branch members claim responsibility for generating the vision that has now been realised in Clasac, securing a total of more than €1.8 million towards the total cost of the project, with the balance sourced by Comhaltas HQ through a series of grants from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism. Mullen claims that Clasac will suffer without the involvement of the Clontarf branch; without access to a wellspring of local musical talent, he says, the centre will lack the grassroots involvement integral to its long-term viability.

He cites Clasac's business plan, which is built on the two cornerstones of promoting grassroots involvement in traditional music and tackling social exclusion through the active promotion of the traditional arts across all communities. "When we conceived of Clasac 15 years ago, we asked ourselves 'how do we tap into the traditional arts to reach East Wall and other places, to combat social exclusion?'," says Mullen. "It's because of that vision that we haven't walked away from Clasac. The easiest thing for us all to do is to walk away. But we think it's essential that a centre like this is serious about achieving those aims."

When contacted by The Irish Times, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann did not address specific questions relating to its rationale for dissolving Clontarf, but issued a press release stating that the branch, "following a lengthy investigation, was deemed to be in serious contravention of the Bunreacht" (constitution).

Diarmaid Mac Domhnaill cites Comhaltas's dissatisfaction with Clontarf's refusal to transfer a VAT refund totalling €739,000 to Comhaltas HQ as one of two issues at the heart of this dispute. According to Mac Domhnaill, this decision was taken "notwithstanding the previous correspondence where the branch had pointed out that this [transferring the VAT refund] would be illegal and would leave the branch officers personally liable to the Revenue Commissioners for the amount of the refund. The Clontarf branch returned the VAT refund to the Revenue Commissioners once the Clontarf branch ceased to be the operator of the Clasac centre."

The second issue, relating to Comhaltas HQ's claim that Clontarf had run up unanticipated debts to the tune of €2 million, is rejected outright by representatives of the Clontarf branch.

"We knew since September 2006 that there would be a funding shortfall," says Mullen, "and Comhaltas HQ had agreed to act as trustees for a bank loan that we had successfully negotiated. When it came to the time of drawing down that loan, they refused to sign up to it as trustees."

Diarmaid Mac Domhnaill is frustrated by the recent turn in events. "Clontarf have been working on this project for 15 years," he says. "I feel that we've been led up the garden path by Comhaltas headquarters, who used us to do the work, to get the centre up and running, and then at the last minute moved in, using the VAT issue as their excuse to take control."

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is hosting its annual congress this weekend in Monkstown. Members of the dissolved Clontarf branch will be present, advocating that they be afforded a right of appeal by Comhaltas. In a letter to all members of the Ard Comhairle, they have requested that an independent arbitrator/mediator, acceptable to both sides, be brought in to expedite a resolution to the current conflict.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh
Date: 04 May 08 - 02:43 PM

If you wish to express your disapproval of the dissolution of Cluain Tarbh CCE there is an online petition at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/clontarf


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh
Date: 04 May 08 - 03:12 PM

I'll try this again so that the link will be activated:
If you wish to express your disapproval of the dissolution of Cluain Tarbh CCE there is an online petition at
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/clontarf


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 04 May 08 - 03:33 PM

Done.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 May 08 - 06:02 PM

I have signed.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 May 08 - 06:21 PM

So have I

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: magb
Date: 04 May 08 - 06:49 PM

me too. it's very quick & easy
maggie


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,George Hendeson
Date: 06 May 08 - 04:18 AM

i have signed up too


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Tyrone
Date: 06 May 08 - 08:35 AM

Agree with Brendan. What a load of Rubbish!! These people should check their facts before placing such libellous comments on these blogs. The majority of the funding for this centre cane from Government coffers in grants given to Comhaltas and the branch raised a pittance in comparison. The sensationalist tabloid reporting of Joe Duffy is simply that! I would advise that you check your facts and stop brandishing these threads as truth. Remember there's two sides to every story.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 06 May 08 - 10:05 AM

guest, Tyrone.
Not really worthy of a response but you obviously have not read the entire thread. You should note very clearly that Clontarf is not the only problem with this organiation. Have you read the report prepared in 1999?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Dublin2
Date: 06 May 08 - 10:12 AM

Talking about getting facts right 'Tyrone' you're a bit far off the mark there. And if you actually knew the people involvesd you would know that it was the families directly affected that contacted Joe Duffy, not exactly 'sensationalist reporting' seeing that it is a talkshow. And who is brandishing these threads as truth? It is a discussion page and people are allowed to have their opinion, if anyone is brandishing the thread as truth it is Brendan as this is the only correspondance that CCE has or rather an employee has used to communicate with people apart from the 'woolly' answers we get in press releases. Read the article from the Irish Times from the weekend to see the wall that CCE has put up in relation to the whole affair. CCE silence only adds speculation, they have got themselves into a hole and they're making it worse by not communicating with the public in th hope that this all goes away.

The funny thing about this whole mess is that Clontarf doesn't need Comhaltas. It is successful enough to survive without CCE, unlike most music promoted by CCE it is quality music, they also have the support of a huge amount of well known musicians, you only had to be at the gig in April to see that. In terms of trad music Clontarf would be far more restricted by CCE.

Yes a lot of the funding came from the Government but it wasn't given to Comhaltas, it was petitioned for and received by the committee that was put in charge of getting the centre going. The committee did however have a representative of Comhaltas on it and this was to oversee affairs. That was the extent of their involvement up until last year when the whole affair of VAT and the bank loan came into play. And I wouldn't exactly call what was raised by the branch as pittance, maybe if you had gone to one of the MANY concerts that were held you would get an idea. But at least we can agree on one thing, checking facts.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Frug
Date: 06 May 08 - 10:27 AM

Guest Tyrone there has been a very good airing of both sides of the argument here, if you accept Brendan as some kind of rapporteur for Comhaltas. Notwithstanding this there appear to be a lot of unanswered questions which need addressing not least of all is why Comhaltas did not act sooner in the piece if things were going so badly wrong. Don't forget according to Brendans posts Comhaltas did have somebody involved with planning etc and surely they were in a position to report back on progress or problems. I'm not sure whether I subscribe to any conspiracy theory, but the initial lack of action by Comhaltas followed by their precipitate action in dissolving the branch does beg questions as to motive. There is inevitably a convoluted politic involved with community based initiatives and Government funds, made more difficult when you have some form of umbrella organisation. I know from experience of working within such a system myself the perils and pitfalls over definitions of responsibility and accountability and ability to act. Seems to me that the whole Comhaltas model needs a review to establish clearer pathways etc. Won't help the current crisis too much but may avert similar in the future. I feel only resolution to the Clontarf situation is an independent review of what happened, not necessarily to apportion blame but to identify way forward with key partners..........that includes both previous clontarf members and Comhaltas.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Dublin2
Date: 06 May 08 - 11:25 AM

I agree...


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Guest North Dublin
Date: 07 May 08 - 07:05 AM

I have been reading comments on this site for quite a while and I must agree with Frug but what is Guest,Dublin 2 talking about getting facts right. He says that the funding was petitioned and received by the committee that was put in charge of getting the centre going. WERE NOT ALL OF THESE PEOPLE MEMBERS OF COMHALTAS WORKING ON BEHALF OF COMHALTAS ?. He says Clontarf dosent need Comhaltas but the Clontarf Branch would never have existed without Comhaltas. A lot of the Committee and members of Clontarf Comhaltas left smaller Branches around Dublin to join Clontarf Comhaltas and good look to them because their children were very successful when the competed in verious competitions and Fleadh's down the years.
The Dublin Fleadh will be held this weekend and I am sure that the competitors who were members of Clontarf will do very well. I am also sure that they will be made very wellcome and by everyone who is interested in promoting and developing Traditional Music Song and Dance in the County. The members of the disolved Clontarf Branch deserve better leadership so get your act together and work within the organisation to get this mess sorted out. The members of Clontarf Comhaltas can then concentrate in the development this fine tradition of Music, Song and Dance in the local area.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Dublin2
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:34 AM

North Dublin, the committee was made entirely to deal with getting the centre running and oversee affairs. When I say a member I mean employed by CCE and told by CCE to oversee affairs and let them know what was happening. Some members of the committee were members of the branch and there were people who had a background in this sort of area in organising centres and the like. There was only one person working on behalf of Comhaltas, the committee was working on behalf of getting the centre running and partly from the branch but this committee had to be a seperate entity because of the work and the amount of specialist work involved.

And of course the branch wouldn't be there only for CCE, I think anyone could tell you that. I am talking about the present day. The branch is working perfectly normal without the help of CCE at the moment. It is one of the most succesful branches in Ireland with hundreds of members and many volunteers. There is also huge support from other musicians. Personally I believe that despite the amount of work CCE has done since its inception, it really needs a complete overhaul because its become rather disillusioned and idealistic and detached from the public. And the branch DOES have good leadership, how do you think it is being run at the moment. That is a story being peddled by CCE in an attempt to derail the process of trying to actually have a meeting with the Ard Comhairle which they have so far been stubborn in allowing.

And its hard to work to achieve a solution 'within the organisation' when you are not in it anymore. That is why an independent mediator is being sought.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,GUEST North Dublin
Date: 08 May 08 - 08:07 AM

Dublin2 For a person who speaks about getting facts right, I have to take issue with you on a number of points.Every member of Comhaltas should be working on behalf of Comhaltas otherwise they should not be members of Comhaltas. The Clasac building is owned by Comhaltas and I understand that it was always expected that Clontarf Comhaltas would be very involved in running it and providing the entertainment there and I would have expected that all that wonderful talent in the wider Dublin area would also perform there.You say this committee was made(was it not democratically elected?) and had to be a seperate entity but was not the Chairman also the Chairman of the Branch and were there other branch committee members on it. If the Branch is working perfectly normal without Comhaltas why does it want to be re-instated. I want to see Clontarf Comhaltas Branch and all those wonderful people back as members of Comhaltas and working for the good of our great tradition. I would like to see Clasac open with Clontarf CCE involved but also involve other branches and members of the large Comhaltas organisation. If it is your opinion that Comhaltas needs a complete overhall because it's become rather disillusioned and idealistic and detached from the public, the time is right to show good leadership and if you are so passionate about your idea's I am sure you will get an opportunity to demonstrate them in a proper democratic setting in the future. I would love to see all this energy that is being put into defending the actions of the past re-directed to the future development of the organisation. Whilst I do not wish to go out in an argumentative vain I wish to remind you that the North Dublin Traditional Music Fraternity extends outside of Clontarf and these people have a great deal to contribute, working together for the better good of Traditional Music,Song and Dance is the way forward. I wish you all a successful and enjoyable weekend at the Dublin Fleadh. Go n-éirí ligh go léir


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: magb
Date: 08 May 08 - 09:24 PM

dear guest North Dublin
Your issues are not very clear but....
the branch wants to be re-instated because it should have not been chucked out in the first place. And much as they might be eminently capable of paddling their own canoe, they should be able to reap the benefits as part of a large organisation that they have contributed hugely to.
No organisation in receipt of public funding should be the domain of just a few people, that's illegal. All members should have 'ownership' and every right to direct the actions of the organisation. Comhaltas equals thousands of people, and I'm sure that Clontarf CCE - like most branches - has always worked on this behalf.
Maggie


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,North Dublin
Date: 09 May 08 - 05:24 AM

Maggie
I couldent agree with you more and sorry my points were not clearly made. I was responding to Dublin2 comments that Clontarf doesent need Comhaltas and that the Classac Committee was not working on behalf of Comhaltas. I was making the point that the building is and always was owned by Comhaltas which some people find hard to comprehend. I also feel it would have been better to involve other branches in the wider Dublin area from the beginning and perhaps the whole project could have been kept in check. Of course the people who have contributed hugly to the building of this centre should reap the rewards.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:09 AM

> the people who have contributed hugely to the building of this centre should reap the rewards.

Hear, hear. Imagine living in the area and seeing Clasac sitting there in all its magnificence and NOT being able to use it, after many years' worth of working towards it. For me, that's the bottom line, however hard HQ tries to justify taking it away from them. And a "reconstituted committee" is not an answer, it's just a slap in the face, whatever excuse they give for it.

The people of Clontarf obviously CAN function without the resources of Comhaltas, but why should they????? How many hours of unpaid work have they and their children contributed in good faith over the years?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 12 May 08 - 04:35 AM

Hello all,
Just to report we (the reel branch from Clontarf) had a great weekend at the fleadh. All our bands and groups got through to the Leinsters.

It was a little disconcerting to see our groups lists in the fleadh programme as "Grupa Ceoil" U12, U15, U18. Our individual competitors were listed under their home addresses. It felt wrong not to be listed as Cluain Tarbh. The practise room assigned to our members was given the name of a branch member, not the club and all of this hurt.

However, the music was brilliant, and as I said the results speak for themselves. We can be cast out from the fold, but it doesn't change the quality and unity of our musicians and members who will continue to do what we do best, i.e. play music.

Thanks to Kinsealy branch for all the work put in to making a great fleadh weekend.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 12 May 08 - 07:37 AM

Great to hear that Eileen and best wishes as always. The music is what matters in the end.
I am just curious about something else. These are the entry fees for competitions as per Comhaltas website.

Fleadh Entry Fees are ; - U-18 = €2 : O-18 = €4 - for CCÉ members, per person, per competition, in Solo
Duet & Trio. All Bands are €15 each and Grúpaí €20 each.

(Non - Members = €10 & €20 per person, per
competition in solo, duet or trio.)
Just wondering were your competitors charged the membership rate or the non membership rate!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 12 May 08 - 07:59 AM

It was interesting to discover how many committee members from the other dublin branches were so misinformed about what HQ has actually done,esp people who would'nt bother with the internet!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: dílis
Date: 12 May 08 - 08:10 AM

A great lot of musicians in the competitions at the Dublin fleadh were announced as being from Deetree where is this?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 12 May 08 - 09:09 AM

Maybe its the posh area on the North Side. You know the one competing against D4 !!!!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 13 May 08 - 04:46 AM

Hi Knight High,

Re. membership of CCE. Thats a very good question. We are receiving mixed message about this. We were charged the members' fee for fleadh entry, so that must mean we are members (I know I paid my family membership fee in September 07, so unless I ceased to be a member on 14 March 08, dissolution date, I reckon I am.

Thanks for your good wishes and support.

I'd just like to ask all our supporters again to sign our petition on the following link:

www.ipetitions.com/petition/clontarf

all the best,
Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:29 PM

I received an unsigned three page missive by post today.
I would like to share one of those pages here on Mudcat, as follows:


COMHALTAS CONGRESS SAUTES ITS ARDSTIURTHOIR

The Annual Congress of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, meeting on the 2nd May, 2008, with delegates from all over Ireland, Britain and North America in attendance, unanimously adopted the following statement and gave the Ardstiurthoir a prolonged standing ovation:

That this Congress salutes and acknowledges the outstanding leadership which Senator Labhras O Murchu, Ardstiurthoir of Comhaltas, has given to our cultural movement over the last 40 years.

Through his dedication, idealism and integrity, coupled with his vision and professionalism, he has guided Comhaltas to its present world status.

Comhaltas and the Irish nation owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His standing in the movement at home and abroad and his record in Seanad Eireann are testimony to the appreciation, admiration and affection which he enjoys nationally and internationally.

We deplore the recent personal abuse to which Labras was subjected. We deplore the vicious anonymous letters sent to his wife Una. Neither Labhras nor the Ardcomhairle were prepared to preside over matters which would harm the good standing and credibility of Comhaltas and bring it inot disrepute. As was required of us by the Bunreacht, the Ardchomhairle unanimously took the appropriate action and dissolved the Clontarf branch of Comhaltas.

Labhras enjoys the full support and confidence of the Ardchomhairle and of the general membership with 400 branches in 15 countries on 4 continents. His legacy to Comhaltas and Irish Ireland has guaranteed him an honoured place in our history. May he be with us for many years to come.

Thank you, Labhras, for your friendship, leadership and inspiration and may God Bless you and Una always"

I rest my case!!!

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddle ruairi
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:20 PM

That letter reads like a Sinn Fein congress meeting talking of 'Irish Ireland' and what not. Gimme a break, such drivel!

It goes to show how misinformed Comhaltas as an organisation is about the whole situation. This letter is just another level in the self promotion that is Labhras O'Murchu.

Notice that there is no mention of how great the music is and how the music is held in such a high standing, only Comhaltas and Labhras because in their eyes the music didnt exist before them. I wouldn't be the first to say that Irish music isn't all CCE but for people who know nothing about the music they are going to look to them for guidance and I certainly don't want to be represented by an organisation like them. I didn't like them before this whole debacle, so don't say I don't like them because of just this. Its terrible, just look at the mostly tripe Fleadh programs that were just on. I can count on one hand the number of good pieces of music I heard, the rest was very poor and filled with the 'The fleadh is great' vox-popping.

That series has just ended, and immediately afterwards The Full Set is starting again with Frankie Gavin and Martin O'Conner. Its like going from Ryanair to Singapore Airlines, or more plainly from 'Fleadh music' to 'actual Irish music that people want to hear'. Or something along those lines.

I didn't think the organisation was so deluded until I read that, so now people I guess we can just forget about it. Democracy just doesn't work in the trad world I guess. The ard comhairle are basically just suits that are out of touch with the traditional world, their 'ideals' are of a bygone era and havn't evolved to the necessities of current society.

Get rid of Labhras and bring in Bertie. Ha ha!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:27 PM

Eileen
This is the logical conclusion of an earlier posting which read:
"Every member of Comhaltas should be working on behalf of Comhaltas otherwise they should not be members of Comhaltas".
Comhaltas should be working on behalf of the music and its leadership should be answerable to its members - not the other way round, as is obviously the case here.
Good luck with your petition.
Jim carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 15 May 08 - 04:37 PM

The editorial in the current edition of the Journal of Music in Ireland (JMI) is interesting. Seldom has the root of the ambivalence felt by so many in the ITM world towards Comhaltas been expressed so succinctly. The text of the editorial is below:

"The reputation of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the organisation founded in 1951 to promote Irish traditional music, reaches far and wide. Seldom is the rise of this music over the past fifty years mentioned without paying tribute to its global network of branches which have taught hundreds of thousands of children.

Despite its profile, however, for many years Comhaltas' leadership role in traditional music has been receding, overtaken by the growth of other traditional music educational organisations, independent festivals, weekends and workshops, private teaching and state initiatives. Comhaltas today is a shadow of its once pioneering self. It has been unable to develop with the pace of change in Ireland, to cultivate a culture of dynamism in its organisation which would see it thrive in the twenty-first century rather than struggle.

Central to the challenges facing Comhaltas are the matters of communication, openness and transparency. In its fifty-seven-year history, few can recall a position in the organisation ever being advertised; statistics emanating from Comhaltas regarding its number of branches and classes, and its attendances, never seem to tally with the facts; the names of the members of its Ardchomhairle (Central Executive Committee) are extremely difficult to obtain; in each state initiative over the past decade that attemped to address the issue of support for the traditional arts, Comhaltas positioned itself as a negative force, frustrating progress, refusing to engage openly. Sadly, the word 'Comhaltas' in our time has become a byword for intransigence and covertness.

This is unfortunate for the many branches worldwide who continue to provide a fine service to traditional music, but the absence of a culture of openness has meant disaster for the branch of Clontarf in Dublin City. Clontarf was, up until 14th March 2008, one of the largest branches of Comhaltas in the world, and was developing an ambitious new traditional-music venue for the north of Dublin called Clasac. In March, the branch was expelled by the Head Office of Comhaltas over a VAT refund and it has refused to date to engage with the branch to clarify why or to allow an appeal. To judge from the correspondences that the Clontarf branch has posted on its website (www.cluaintarbh.net), this could have been avoided if both parties had engaged in a modicum of constructive dialogue, which is what Clontarf requested. Why is that such a difficult thing to do?"


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddleruairi
Date: 15 May 08 - 04:58 PM

I've been doing a bit of scrounging around found a good explaination of Comhaltas written by Harry Bradley on 'thesession' discussion site. The whole discussion can be accessed here http://www.thesession.org/discussions/display/6697

But this the comment in question, I think its pretty accurrate enjoy! (also this was written in 2005 before the whole Cluain Tarbh debacle).


Re: Comhaltas Critics
The problems that most educated interested parties that I know have with CCE are loosely as follows:

1. The leadership. Larry Murphy has obtained himself life- long leadership of the organisation. This was not the way that CCE was set up, and it was certainly not the way that early enthusiasts like the great Breandan Breathnach wanted to see the thing going. Murphy has a long history of abusing his position there for political canvasing, He has dragged ITM by popular association with CCE into politically and morally murky territory by taking visible and audible stances on such contentious topics as Irish politics, abortion and music copyright. Regardless of what you think on these subjects, it is folly to drag a large and largely well meaning organisation into these areas... many probably just don't care what is said in their name of course. The late Sean Ried, that truly knowledgable,humble and humane visionary could not stomach what he seen in CCE as a growingly sectarian 'cultural' movement in the 60s. We have some very intereting letters on the subject from his collection in the NPU archive.

2. Presentation. The CCE 'talk'. Its tough, old school, nationalistic/ bordering on republican rhetoric. It is not very knowlegable when it comes to actual music but is full of glorious, nationalist aspirations for it. It is also deeply paralised in a distant past where the music MUST be saved as part of a nationalist agenda using victorian methods (ie. repetition, competition, empire building). Their identity from top level is built largely on a seige mentality that may seem superficially just when you look at how the traditional arts have been neglected by the irish governments since the Irish republic was formed... but their answer to the situation is to clam up consider themselves sole custodians of the traditions where they attemp to get control of any funding that may be going for ITM as was the case recently. Overkill in other words. At top level they are also insular, have delusions of their self worth and much of the editorial type comment they release in their rag is aggresive and paranoid. As a totaltarian organisation fishing for certain things they are also extremely manipulative, albeit in the clumsiest and most blatant ways with the worst sort of self promotion rhetoric and propeganda.

3.A few years ago Larry Murphy was appointed to create an official report on the state of ITM with a view to it being funded. Needless to say his report (which was really an infantile essay on how great CCE are) was shot down by many free thinking parties and individuals. The Irish Times letters page (among other places) became a battleground of words where people such as Nicholas Carolan of the Irish Traditional Music archive, Terry Moylan of NPU, Fintan Vallely, John Moulden and other music intelligentsia appealed for the report to be jumped on and slowly burned as the kindling that it was. Instead of realising that his 'report' was hopelessly flawed, innacurate, unfair and completely devoid of any understanding of the art forms 'on the ground' Larry instead went on the war path standing by this thing that a secondary school child would have written on a bad day claiming that he was victim of some dark, shady conspiracy against him. The truth was simply that the report was short sighted, selfish and not at all representitve of the needs of ITM. People were'nt happy with that.

4. Without going into the considerable details, there was recently a whole running battle over here when many (rightly) felt that CCE were going to recieve undue and unrepresentitive control of funding ITM due to some of their foot-in-the-door political wranglings. The attempt was to take funding of IT arts away from the general Arts Council of Ireland and ghettoise IT arts as some sort of stand alone freak. I was at the gates of the Dail to hand a petition expressing concern at this with among others, Paddy Moloney of the Cheiftains, Christy Moore, Paddy Glackin and representitives of ITMA, NPU and others. The objections from artists and intereted parties ensured that the stitch-up that we fully expected did not come about, but the situation is far from resolved in a funding sense and it will be a long push yet to secure a fair amount of support for the whole of the irish traditional arts.

5. And yes, CCE, or rather Larry Murphy or a like suit wearer signed a deal with IMRO. CCE and IMRO seemed to think that if the latter gave the former 375,000 euro then the latter could have exclusive rights to Irish music traditional arrangement royalties (trad. arr. as you see on CD sleeve notes). How they decided that CCE owned these rights to sell is still a mystery? They effectively sold Irish music! As usual they did not consult members or the rest of the ITM community on these trifling matters.

Money, power and control. The problem is at the top and that is where the criticism is righly aimed by scholars and experts such as Breathnach, Vallely, Carolan and from mere minstrels such as myself.

To quote Breandan Breathnach himself " CCE is an organisation with a great future behind it." Not for the first time I wish that he was alive to keep them in check, or maybe he is better off at his well deserved rest.

Regards,

Harry Bradley.'

I think its a good explanation of the cce set up at the moment.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,aine
Date: 17 May 08 - 10:00 PM

CCE Conventions sound like the place to be for a wicked day out. How does one get to join. Hail to the Great leader.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 08 - 03:52 AM

For anybody with last years copies of Trior, there is a wonderful cover photograph of your man gazing into the distance, against a background of arms raised in salute (statues of the faithful of Bru Boru).
The inside cover has - I couldn't believe it - an election address on his behalf, headed 'A Sense of Place, Nation and Tradition', urging us to vote for him in the Seanad Elections.
What was that about keeping politics out of the music!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 08 - 03:54 AM

Whoops
Treor - before we have a Pedants Revolt on our hands - I'm sure J.W. is out there somewhere!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 18 May 08 - 07:41 AM

Taking advantage of an organisation dedicated to traditional music, to use it as a publicity outlet to tout for votes is beyond despicable. Especially one which accepts (relies on?) so much volunteer work, done in good faith, from its membership base.   

Murphy's been in power there for how long - 40 years? Since 1967? Whatever the exact figure is, it's measurable in decades. It's not good enough just to say that he was fairly elected. Fairly elected, how exactly? By whom? The public should be allowed complete freedom to examine exactly how these voting processes are carried out. Three or four decades is a long, long time for one person to be at the helm. Do the grassroots, dues-paying members get a say in this?

Toner Quinn's editorial in the current Journal of Music in Ireland which Frank has already posted makes interesting reading, especially the bit that says, "In its fifty-seven-year history, few can recall a position in the organisation ever being advertised; statistics emanating from Comhaltas regarding its number of branches and classes, and its attendances, never seem to tally with the facts; the names of the members of its Ardchomhairle (Central Executive Committee) are extremely difficult to obtain."

Link here: http://www.thejmi.com/article/764

The people who have the power are always in a perfect position to use that power to keep that power. Especially with all that free advertising space to use for electioneering and furthering of a personal career unrelated to music.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 08 - 08:19 AM

could it be, that he has been there too long?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 May 08 - 10:24 AM

Shouldn't he be the sacrificial lamb for the betterment of the org. as a whole & to right the wrongs done in the org nanme. Let the head roll.
If he were to go & a reinstatement wre to take place would that not apease all?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 18 May 08 - 10:44 AM

Come off it. He's no "sacrificial lamb". He occupies the chief position. Those who run HQ are the ones who act in the org name. That means they are responsible for the actions they choose to take, and what happens as a result of those actions.

The only thing that's going to "appease all" is to genuinely right the wrongs done in that org name. And there are some.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,East of Dublin
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:33 AM

i'm a little confused as to why the former branch members of clontarf are not playing the game. Why are they working outside of the comhaltas structure and trying to get back in?
As far as i am aware none of the members (families, musicians, adults and children) of the dissolved branch have been told they cannot become members of comhaltas. So if the reported 400 members of the dissolved branch all decided to join the newly formed Craobh Cluain Tarbh branch we would have a situation where:

1. Everyone would be back in comhaltas, with voting rights, and information which is afforded to members of the organisation, and the branch given full recognition in the fleadh programmes.

2. A branch majority substantial enough to force a branch EGM and elect its own officers and committee democratically.

Admittedly this would not solve the clasac issue, but it would force a continuation of the dialogue, and it would also be interesting to see if the former committee members from the dissolved branch were re-elected to their posts following the complete mess that has been made - assuming no party is completely without blame.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 May 08 - 11:42 AM

Are you suggesting that by rejoining, branch members will have an opportunity to vote the premises back into their hands?
Or is it a case of "Come in - sit down-shut up and do as you're told"?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest-North Dublin
Date: 27 May 08 - 03:59 PM

Dear Guest, East Dublin-

If only it were that simple!! We thought of that - they won't let us!!!


The newly formed self-appointed Craobh Chluain Tarbh committee has written this week to MOST of the families of the dissolved branch "inviting" them to join their classes in Clasac in September. However, the children of certain members of the dissolved committee have not been invited to join!!!! Certain families have obviously been hand-picked and anyone whose parent has been deemed to be questioning of HQ has been ignored deliberately. As if any member of Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh has any intention of being lured to this new Craobh with promises of a spanking new building - and nothing else!!

When one of the dissolved committee members put it to the "Chairperson" of the self-appointed committee that all Clontarf members should be allowed go to the secret meeting in Malahide to set up a new branch, he was told they could not come as the general populace of the original Clontarf Comhaltas would vote out the new committee and revert to the original committee!! Is this not the way democracy works? Obviously not in Comhaltas circles!!

There is "no playing Comhaltas at their own game" as Guest from East Dublin so elequently put it. The dissolved members are honourable people who have been treated abominably in ways reminiscint of communism.They have always acted with dignity. Clontarf branch has , at all times, begged for professional mediation to make some headway at this impasse. All requests have been either ignored or refused and the ordinary members of the dissolved branch have been at the receiving end of countless, unsigned , vitriolic, accusatory letters from Labhras addressed to each individual family. The latest several page epistle accuses members of the branch of "exploiting children in their care" . What a scandalous accusation!!

The Reel Clontarf Comhaltas (now called Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh) is as united as ever in the face of their unjust and unwarranted treatment.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:06 PM

Dear Guest North Dublin
This is appalling behaviour. Look all you people out there, lets lobby the Ardcomhairle members to put some pressure to resolve this.
Send me a PM of any Ardcomhairle members that you know and I will publish them here. Then its up to you.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:40 PM

Some names in already:
Ard-Chomairle Delegates from Munster Pádraig Ó Flannagáin (Tipperary) & Assunta Uí Chathasaigh (Cork)

Ard Comhairle Delegates from Connaught Vera Barrett (Galway), Des Collis (Sligo) Seamus McCormack, (Sligo)

Any more??


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:22 AM

"North Dublin" has it in a nutshell there.
HQ's problem is with our elected committee, and this is why they're not inviting them or their children to join the new branch.

Guest, "East of Dublin", yes, I reckon the current committee of Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh would definitely be re-elected by the 400 members. They have weathered the storm extremely well, and if they were willing to continue at the helm the membership would be more than happy to vote our Committee in again.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,South of Dublin
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:16 PM

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this situation, I can't help wondering whether the Ceoltóirí Cluain Tarbh are thinking "everyone is out of step except our Johnny". I don't recall anything coming out of the AGM, they don't seem to have any support within Ceoltas, or outside except in their own area. There doesn't seem to have been much support for the petition. It looks to me like the old Committee shot themselves in the foot and as a result got shafted, and the only thing left for Clontarfers who want anything to do with Ceoltas is to bite the bullet and accept the new committee (which, reading the above, seems to have been mostly the original committee who got things started with Clasac in the first place).


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest - North Dublin
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:19 PM

Dear Guest - South Dublin,

There has been great support for the original Clontarf Comhaltas but unfortunately, due to fear, much of the support has been under the veil of secrecy. Many branches have confided in us that they share our horror at the way we have been treated but they admit that they cannot speak out openly in our defence as they are afraid that their branch will be victimised like Clontarf has been. Sad and worrying , isn't it?

What AGM? That was held last Oct before any of this crisis became apparent.

Since then there have been two EGM's and several information evenings when, contrary to what you allege , a lot of progress was made. The unity among the members was inspiring at those meetings. There was unanimous support for the committee and gratitude expressed for all their hard work in trying to right the terrible injustice which has been done to the membership of the original Clontarf Comhaltas. At all times , the committee and the general membership have behaved in a dignified, courteous, honourable and decent manner despite the most despicable treatment from HQ and the most abhorrent lies told and written about the branch and named individuals in it.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:21 PM

Dear GUEST,South of Dublin
How can you be serious?. If you read this thread you will see the huge level of support for Ceoltóirí Cluain Tarbh. Yes the branch got shafted alright - and illegally at that.
As for Annual Congress and what came out of it. Well its worth re printing Eileen O'Connor's earlier post:

COMHALTAS CONGRESS SAUTES ITS ARDSTIURTHOIR

The Annual Congress of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, meeting on the 2nd May, 2008, with delegates from all over Ireland, Britain and North America in attendance, unanimously adopted the following statement and gave the Ardstiurthoir a prolonged standing ovation:

That this Congress salutes and acknowledges the outstanding leadership which Senator Labhras O Murchu, Ardstiurthoir of Comhaltas, has given to our cultural movement over the last 40 years.

Through his dedication, idealism and integrity, coupled with his vision and professionalism, he has guided Comhaltas to its present world status.

Comhaltas and the Irish nation owe him a huge debt of gratitude. His standing in the movement at home and abroad and his record in Seanad Eireann are testimony to the appreciation, admiration and affection which he enjoys nationally and internationally.

We deplore the recent personal abuse to which Labras was subjected. We deplore the vicious anonymous letters sent to his wife Una. Neither Labhras nor the Ardcomhairle were prepared to preside over matters which would harm the good standing and credibility of Comhaltas and bring it inot disrepute. As was required of us by the Bunreacht, the Ardchomhairle unanimously took the appropriate action and dissolved the Clontarf branch of Comhaltas.

Labhras enjoys the full support and confidence of the Ardchomhairle and of the general membership with 400 branches in 15 countries on 4 continents. His legacy to Comhaltas and Irish Ireland has guaranteed him an honoured place in our history. May he be with us for many years to come.

Thank you, Labhras, for your friendship, leadership and inspiration and may God Bless you and Una always"

Oh my Oh my!!!!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Mary
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:32 PM

Please show your support for the dissolved branch of Clontarf Comhaltas by signing our petition. It does not cost any money and will just take a minute.

www.ipetitions.com/petition/clontarf


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,South of Dublin
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:55 PM

My mistake. I meant Annual Congress, not AGM.

Knight High, I read this whole thread from start to finish. I got fed up of the constant sniping at Ceoltas. I am not a member. If I was, I would be annoyed at the criticism of the organisation often made by people who have either a personal grudge or who know nothing about the organisation. As far as I am concerned the members are working hard for the music and doing a good job. Yes, in this thread about 40 people from around the world, maybe a handful of them actually members of Ceoltas, expressed their support. Big deal. What about the tens of thousands of members who didn't support CCC, not to mention all other cultural organisations and similar of which there are hundreds around the country? The silence is deafening.

My take on this is that for whatever reason the committee screwed up and weren't able to retrieve the situation. There's politics in every organisation and they didn't manage to "cover their assets". Happens all the time in real life. Just because you're morally right doesn't mean you don't get shafted if you make a booboo or even just rub someone up the wrong way. It's a pity the members were dragged down with the committee. I hope this mess doesn't have an adverse affect on the kids.

That's my tuppence worth.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 29 May 08 - 02:42 AM

"For whatever reason" ?? Maybe you read the thread but you clearly didn't take it in. You've completely avoided actually dealing with any of the issues being discussed. Sorry you're fed up with all the sniping, but there are good reasons for it, which you've managed to ignore. Looks like the facts don't fit your opinions.

Yes they have thousands of members who are working hard and doing a good job. So what? That's not the issue. Your post just reads like a party statement.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:31 AM

"I read this whole thread from start to finish. I got fed up of the constant sniping at Ceoltas."
This thread is made up of (mostly) of people whose prime interest is Irish music rather than supporting the 'Glorious leader' or ' the organisation, right or wrong'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,michj
Date: 29 May 08 - 06:32 AM

eh?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,thedublin
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:54 AM

south dublin, i really don't know what you are talking about. you say that you are not a member of comhaltas, so that leads me to believe that you probably don't understand the processes undertaken by the organisation, you probably dont know that people involved, you said that you read the other comments but you clearly did and if you did you drifted over important pieces of information.

i think the 'comhaltas bashing' you speak of is something that is only natural to come out of the situation. even before this people have given out about comhaltas and the way they conduct their affairs. you mightn't like to hear it but it is true, and with good reason. for all the good work cce has done, this has been slowed down since the 1980s when the organisation drifted into a political sphere with labhras at the head. you may remember big mistakes by the organisation such as the review of the state of traditional irish music by Labhras for the government some years ago, which was laughed at by mostly everyone who has a proper interest in the music. notable musicians came out in protest at this report and wasshot down, however labhras as stubborn as he is stood by it despite the fact the report upon reading read like an essay written by someone in primary school.

you may also remember cce trying to sell the rights to traditional music to imro. they wanted to sell the 'trad. arr.' that appears on almost every traditional music cd. this would also lead to people not being allowed to play in public (ie. sessions) without the prior consent of comhaltas. again this was met with scorn by actual traditional musicians.

most of the propaganda that i read coming out of the cce offices like the press release below, are all about promoting the organisation and the people in it. no longer are they saying how great the music is, but they are saying how great labhras is and how great comhaltas is for keeping the music alive. the truth is, the music doesn't need comhaltas anymore unless you want the fleadhs to keep going or the dreadful us, uk and irish cce tours. cce is a multimillion euro organisation but where is this money going? so much could be done if it weren't for a few grey hairs in the ard comhairle and the other committes in cce.

but the fact of the matter is is that cce have been stubborn in allowing communication with clontarf. if you read the thread and fully understood the situation south dublin, you would know that despite repeated attempts by clontarf to have discussions, cce have constantly denied them the privilage. and the only reason why clontarf have been put in this mess regarding money is because of cce. if you read earlier passages you would know that cce had said to clontarf that they would sign for a loan of 2million or around th mark to finish the job. since that the rest of the building work had taken place but when they went back to comhaltas to retrieve the loan cce decided that they didn't want to sign for the loan anymore. there are other reasons aswell for the mess but that is one of the main ones. it is comhaltas who have created this whole mess and it is clontarf who is being made take the blame. all of the planning was done with the backing of cce in realtion to things like that so it so difficult to suddenly find 2million euros when you main backer suddenly decides that it doesn't want you involved anymore.

maybe you should read this thread again.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,thedublin
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:58 AM

*you clearly did not and if you did...*


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,South of Dublin
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:00 PM

south dublin, i really don't know what you are talking about.

Well, I suppose that says it all...

You've completely avoided actually dealing with any of the issues being discussed

Yes, I certainly have! If the Committee and the Ard-chomhairle and associated spokespersons after years of working together and months of wrangling and interminable meetings can't agree on the issues and who is at fault, then nothing I say here is going to make a ha'p'orth of difference. I just expressed an opinion, based on what I've read here.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,thedublin
Date: 29 May 08 - 04:15 PM

again you dont seem to understand. there was no problems with getting the centre running until the inexplicable actions of comhaltas as regards signing for the loan and the VAT refund.

you also dont seem to understand that there have been NO meetings WITH comhaltas in the run up to getting the building running. there was a seperate board with members from all parties to get the centre running and anything that was decided was done through this committee. and as regards meetings to solve the problem, well obviously you have not read the whole of this thread. clontarf have tried and tried in vain to have meetings with comhaltas but are rebuffed everytime. if you are so damning of not having meetings, i suggest you contact cce and ask them about it. i doubt that you will have an easier time getting one. cce has had secret meetings and have made judgements on the situation without notifying clontarf or anyone involved. clontarf have not been allowed to state their position to cce since being dissolved simply because cce refuse to meet with them. clontarf are the ones being pro-active in the situation in trying to arrange a meeting to solve the problem, so why are you so critical of them?

so far cce have ignored approaches by the branch and have only served to stoke the fire by peddling untrue stories about the leadership of the branch, the leadership of the branch is the only thing that is keeping the branch going without cce's help at the moment so i think you are wrong in your criticism. the problems with the centre arose out of actions by cce, not by conflict within the clasac committee.

nobody closely involved with trying to get the centre open again is concerned with laying the blame, if they were they would not be approaching cce to solve the bloody problem.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,shaskeen
Date: 29 May 08 - 06:54 PM

I don't think anyone will really take into account what you said south dublin, seeing as you actually can't even spell 'comhaltas' (thats how its spelt by the way in case you didn't see it at the top of the thread there).

But contrary to your ignorant and ill-informed remarks, there IS huge support for clontarf. a lot more than the 40 people that you claim. but maybe if you were in contact with people within the music you would probably know that, im not even from dublin and i know about it. all of the other dublin branches have leant their support and lots of other branches from around the country. i was also at the fundraiser in april where a huge number of top class musicians also leant their support.

I have to pull you up on your comment there because it really was a pathetic attempt at trying to 'contribute' (i use the term loosely here) to the thread. talking of 'boo-boos', 'the silence is deafening' and what not, thats pretty embarrassing.

the situation has nothing to do with being 'morally' right.the committee didnt 'screw up'. cce and clontarf had entered into a mutual agreement about the centre (and there also a seperate committee made up by clontarfr members and cce members and other independants) and cce broke all of these arrangements, some of the things asked of clontarf were highly illegal. and they were also dissolved for no reason, the majority of members are kids so thats needlessly punishing them.

you got fed up of the constant sniping at comhaltas (there's that speeling again!), well how did you expect people to react? the cce solution to problems regarding one of the biggest and most successful of its branches is to dissolve it. if that doesn't smack of bad decision making i dont know what does. and contrary to your belief most of the cce employees, ard comhairle and others, they work for labhras and comhaltas, not for the music. for them, that took a back seat long ago. i am a member of a comhaltas branch and i have spoken to many people who have worked very closely with labhras and the organisation over the years, and i dont have a 'personal grudge' against them. like many musicians, i dont like the way they conduct their affairs and the way they portray the music, which is often in a very stereotypical and uniform way.

I know your entitled to your opinion, but why not try next time to use the thing between your ears and show a some respect for the people involved.

as you put it yourself 'thats my tuppence worth'.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,sos
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:21 AM

I'm looking to contact branch members from Clontarf for coverage of issue in national press - please advise best phone number for branch officials


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 May 08 - 08:18 AM

Not a good idea to publish private info like that on an open-access web page. Their site has a list of names and a contact email, and you'll be able to reach people that way. I imagine they'll want to know who's asking -

http://www.cluaintarbh.net/index.htm

cluaintarbh@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:20 AM

tks Bonnie - I have emailed that gmail address - do you know whether someone checks it regularly


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest - Áine
Date: 30 May 08 - 01:52 PM

Dear Guest,

Yes, that email is checked regularly. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest - Brian
Date: 30 May 08 - 01:57 PM

Don't forget to sign our petition to show your support, Thank you. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/clontarf


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: bytheway
Date: 31 May 08 - 09:56 AM

From; martin

I am a member of the West london branch of comhaltas and have been following the thread for the last few weeks. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Clasac Affair the handling of this by Comhaltas HQ is nothing short of an alsolute disgrace.

Although I was not an active member of West london CCE during the 1979 expulsions I do know that to this day it has deeply affected the branch as it now stands. The branch was suspended in 1979 following a letter from the local committee refusing to participate in what they viewed as political activities, namely a celebration of Patrick Pearse in which branches were invited to make donations. Quite rightly the local committee felt that this ran counter to the non-political tenets of CCE. For this they awarded with suspension.

And why should this old history be of any importance today ?

Because the those responsible what what happened in 1979 are still in control of CCE HQ. More so, it still follows a certain political agenda and behaves in a manner which hold no truck with those with opposing views.

Just look at the Comhaltas website in which Labhras gets a unaminous vote of support at the 2th may Congresss in dublin. Its embarrassing to read. I have written to the CCE Provincial Chairman describing this motion as obsequous nonsence with echoes of a 1930s USSR motion of support for "Uncle Joe". I eagerly await his reply from him.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Cluain Tarbh
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:21 PM

After all the angst in this blog here's something to put a smile on your face!
The dissolved Cluain Tarbh recently ran a benefit concert to raise funds, having lost all our assets on dissolution. The response from musicians and punters alike was amazing! Thanks everyone! We raised enough money to cover our insurance allowing us to operate as an independent entity.
The night was so successful and we do still have bills to pay so we are doing it again!
So put this in your diary -

The Cobblestone Pub, Smithfield, Dublin 7   
11th June 2008 at 9:00PM

Line up includes:

    Máire Breathnach,
    Niamh Parsons,
    Alan Doherty (Gráda) & Friends,
    Mick O Connor,
    Mary Nugent & Frank Walsh,
    Pat Good

...and its only €12.
Over 18s only!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Cluain Tarbh
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:25 PM

Hot off the presses.

Jesse Smith & John Blake have been added to an already impressive line up at our fundraiser on June 11th in the Cobblestone.

By the way the Mick O'Connor playing is Mick (accordion) O'Connor not Mick (flute) O'Connor or Mick (banjo) O'Connor.

See you all on the night!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 07:58 AM

Is that upstairs or in the room at the back?

Best of luck, Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: dílis
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 07:54 PM

It's the room downstairs out the back.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Cluain Tarbh
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 08:13 AM

I should point out that the venue is quite small with a capacity of up to 80 people. Tickets will available at the door but get there early to avoid disappointment. Doors open at 8:30 PM.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Stringman
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 07:28 AM

I think the press release from Comhaltas accusing the former Clontarf branch of exploitation of children is inappropriate in the extreme, and is slanderous and demeans the whole organisation. Also the press release in Praise of Labhras seems so out of touch with reality that one wonders has he got a future at all!
When an organisation accuses a branch of such impropriety as a means to strengthen their own position, they are stepping out on very thin ice, particularly when these statements have the endorsements of all members of the ardcomhairle. This has got nothing to do with the central mission of Comhaltas.
Incidentally,members of this thread may be interested to hear that independent offers of mediation were made to both Clontarf and Labhras before the breaking news on the Joe Duffy show. Clontarf agreed, but head office said no.
This could have been handled out of the public domain, but the ardstiurthoir declined.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 09:27 AM

Are they not accountable to anyone? If this is officially the case - that no rights of dispute or redress to an unjust balance of power actually exist - then this state of affairs should be legally contested and remedied.

Having the same leader, elected by the same quasi-secret council decade after decade, still raises major questions in my mind regarding democracy. So does that six-year waiting period between any possible amendment to the constitution by the dues-paying membership.

Surely no organisation with Comhaltas' assets in real estate and funding should have that kind of autonomy and protection from public scrutiny. It's too open to abuse. How much else goes on behind the scenes that no one knows about?

Apart from self-adoring PR they seem to be doing nothing to address this Clasac issue. But it looks like they don't have to. That non-accountability should be challenged. If there's no law governing this situation, they need to make one. Oh, wait: government. Fianna Fáil, isn't it?

Sometimes if something doesn't seem fair and doesn't look fair and doesn't smell fair... it isn't fair. It's time for a change. An official, legal one.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 10:32 AM

Democracy is a farce anyway.
Are you eligible to vote tomorrow[Lisbon Treaty]Bonnie,I am not,yet I am affected and have lived in Ireland for 18 years.
   I dont think Comhaltas are right,.
but their attitude is typical of Fianna Fail,Haughey, Ahern etc.
power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 01:51 PM

Again, I think there is more here than either side is admitting.
I understand that Comhaltas has done things in the past to make people on this forum angry, but the fact is we just don't have the evidence to know what is going on in this case. Both sides have put out highly partisan documents outlining their own side and ignoring the other's side.

For example: "Independent offers of mediation were made?" By whom? Why should either side accept them, if they are not likely to favor that side? If one side accepts them and the other does not, it MIGHT mean that the side that doesn't accept is being unreasonable, or it might mean that the "independent" mediators weren't as independent as they claimed, and one side smelled a rat. How are we on this list supposed to know which was the case?

Comhaltas's answer to that, by the way, is: "The matter under review was an internal issue for Comhaltas and processed within the terms and requirements of the Bunreacht. It was people in the dissolved branch who brought it into the public domain." This seems also to be true, which suggests to me that the "offer" of independent mediation could have been an ultimatum: "submit to mediation by our chosen mediators, or we will go to the press and make Comhaltas look bad." If that was the case, Comhaltas did the only thing it reasonably could do.

Finally, I've made this point before, but it bears repeating: organizations like Comhaltas are not democracies. They are corporations. They do have some features of democratic governance, but those features are limited. The ardchomairle is indeed accountable to membership, but it seems that changing the ardchomairle takes time, and changing the constitution takes even longer.

The structure of the archomairle is not a secret. You can find it on the Comhaltas website, here:

http://comhaltas.ie/about/structure/

Essentially, the body is made up of the provincial council chairpeople, and two more members of each provincial council. Provincial councils are made up of county/regional board members, and county/regional boards are made up of branch committee members.

So if you feel strongly about what has happened to Clontarf, the appropriate action is to become active in your branch and vote out your branch committee members, replacing them with new ones. This will inevitably change the ardchomairle.

If you can find out which of your branch committee members, if any, is actually a member of the ardchomairle, so much the better. You can oust the responsible parties more easily that way. People here have alluded to the difficulties in finding out who is on the ardchomairle, but enough people in the organization know that it can hardly be very difficult to find out, if you are an active comhaltas member.

If you're NOT an active comhaltas member, and you feel strongly about this situation, your best bet is to become an active member. Otherwise, you'll never have any real say in what happens.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 02:09 PM

Can't make it to the Cobblestone tonight.

I'm sure it will be brilliant.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 06:56 PM

"organizations like Comhaltas are not democracies. They are corporations"

NOT!

I believe Comhaltas is a non profit or at least in all appearances it is, though being a member of the Boston branch I'm not sure of the legal foundations outside the US.

It relies on private & public funding, private & public sweat & membership fees!
As such their books, polices, discissions, etc. should be at the very least be open & public to the membership if not to to their communities.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM

Sorry, Barry. Just because you shout "NOT" won't make a corporation into a government. For the record, you're leaving out an important word. It's a "non-profit," you say. A non-profit what? It's a non-profit corporation.

Comhaltas has a six-tiered governing structure (individual members, branch committees, county-region boards, provincial boards, ardchomairle, and finally the high officers of the ardchomairle). This ensures that very few individual members have actually voted for any member of the ardchomairle. This makes it difficult to cause a change in the high officers of the organization through a broad grassroots movement, because only members of their own branches vote for them directly. But you err if you assume that this is somehow illegal or outrageous. Plenty of non-profit corporations have far less in the way of democracy.

I've worked most of my working life for non-profit corporations that "take public money." This does not make them democracies in which "the public" that provided the money has a direct role. (They don't hold public elections on who runs the Red Cross.) A lot of people seem not to understand this. If you are not vested in the organization by being a member, your only say would be to call your governmental representative and say "please don't fund so-and-so." But your governmental rep is insulated from that decision anyway; typically in the arts, the money goes through an arts board or arts council before an organization like Comhaltas gets it, and their decisions on which organizations to fund are subject to pretty rigorous oversight. In particular, they will put together a truly independent panel of arts experts to vet the various applications. I have served on many grants panels making this kind of decision; they include artists, administrators, and scholars in relevant disciplines. By the time a grant is made, everyone's ass is pretty well covered, and it would be hard for a member of the public to argue from sensationalized news accounts that an organization isn't worthy of the money that an expert panel awarded it.

I'm sure most arts experts, looking at the totality of Comhaltas's activities, and being aware of the controversy over this one decision, would still not vote to de-fund Comhaltas. And I believe that members of all the other branches would agree.

Beyond denying it funding, there is generally no mechanism for the government to interfere in a non-profit corporation's business.

Corporations are also not democracies internally, although comhaltas itself is structured on semi-democratic principles. They are governed only by their own bylaws, generally established by the founding board of directors and modified by subsequent boards when necessary. If these bylaws give individual members no power at all in guiding the organization, then that's the way it is, and that's perfectly legal. (Members knew what rights they had before joining, so it's hard to argue that anyone has been wronged.) Many non-profits don't even HAVE individual members of any kind, and board members are simply selected by the board itself.

Comhaltas happens to be MORE democratic than many other non-profits, but you still shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that it's "a democracy." To be governed by a convoluted, semi-democratic system such as Comhaltas has developed is probably fully legal (I'm in the US, not Ireland, so I don't know for sure.) We can sputter about it all we like, but it's not "a democracy," and it won't respond to our outrage.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 01:44 AM

I've worked most of my working life for non-profit corporations that "take public money." This does not make them democracies in which "the public" that provided the money has a direct role

But it does make them accountable & it should make them transparent

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM

We had this discussion already in this thread, Barry. They're accountable for how they spend public money, not for whether they hurt the feelings of branch members. In this regard, I'm sure Comhaltas is as transparent as the law requires. We all know where the money went; the Clasac centre is there for all to see. That's all the guardians of the public purse care about, not which particular members of an organization got their toes stepped on in the process.

Another way to look at it: no one outside of Comhaltas is accusing Comhaltas of mishandling public money. Comhaltas said their branch was mishandling public money, and that the national organization stepped in and remedied the situation. Clontarf branch says no one mishandled public money at all. The upshot of both stories is that the public money went where it was supposed to go: to get the centre built and operational. Why should the guardians of the public money waste MORE public money investigating this situation? Neither side alleges that the mishandling of money remains unresolved, just that the organization hurt some feelings in resolving it. Bottom line is, the government isn't likely to care, and arguably, they shouldn't. Whether the central committee can or can't dissolve a branch according to the comhaltas constitution really isn't a matter for anyone outside of comhaltas.

I do see one way to get the government involved: the former branch members could sue the national organization in court. The fact that they aren't doing so suggests that (1) it's not worth it to them; or (2) they don't feel they can win.

Non-profit organizations always have internal politics, jockeying for power, sudden ousters of board and staff and members, etc. Funding agencies don't care. They are assured by the new powers that be that all is well, they are showed the books proving that the money is where it should be, and all goes on as before.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 02:28 AM

Nerd,
'Hurt feelings' seems somewhat of an understatement when it comes to the expulsion of a branch and the seizure of its premises, and doesn't your premise ignore the political and personal influence O'Murchú undoubtedly has and is more than ready to use?
The Cap'n is right on this occasion; when it comes to CCE, 'Democracy is a farce', though O'Murchú appears ready to pay lip-service to it with the somewhat lickspittle 'support our glorious leader' which he has encouraged on this and other similar occasions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 05:00 AM

> ...your best bet is to become an active member. Otherwise, you'll never have any real say in what happens.

How much "real say" - i.e. actual power - does any member outside the inner sanctum have?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 05:46 AM

if you are a member WHO is on the county board,you have a little more power.
as a member of Skibbereen branch,All that I can do is[apart from signing the petition which I have done] is raise the matter at the Skibbereen agm in November [under any other business].
every branch will vary as to how they are run,some of them seem to be run by families,and are almost a personal feifdom.
on the other hand both my local branches do a lot to encourage music making among children,which is why[For the moment] I will continue to be a member.
I do not think CCE have handled this well,I am not happy about the Clontarf situation.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 09:51 AM

Declan wrote: I'm sure it will be brilliant.

I thought Niamh Parsons was, but when I said it to her, she said: "I bet you say that to all the girls!"

Well, emmm....


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 10:10 AM

Jim, you could be right about the "seizure of premises" part. This would depend on the way the law views a branch of CCE, and I just don't know. If branches are separate legal entities with their own articles of incorporation, and if the Clontarf branch was in fact part-owner of the Centre, then the national organization could be breaking the law by seizing it. But if the branches are, legally speaking, merely parts of Comhaltas, as Comhaltas asserts, then Comhaltas can't "seize" their "property," because Comhaltas technically already owned it. (This would be like a management company reorganizing and eliminating a branch office that managed a block of flats, bringing that building under the wing of the central office. Five people might lose their jobs, but the company didn't seize anything it didn't own already. We might have sympathy for the folks whose jobs were lost, but the government won't step in to do anything about it...)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Stringman
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 05:59 PM

Nerd, whether or not Comhaltas is a democracy in a distraction from the central issue.
The Clontarf branch overran their budget to the tune of 2 million. They produced a business plan and needed the executive to act as guarantor on the loan , which Clontarf were willing to shoulder. For whatever reasons, the member of the ard comhairle involved with the Clasach project declined to do this.
At an E.G.M to present their case to Clontarf, the ard stiurthóir of my organisation delivered a rant to the people present, which offended them greatly, and being articulate and intelligent they were having none of it. The dissolution stems from this event.
To my mind in an act of personal vengeance at the lack of respect accorded to Labhrás, Paddy Kelly and others, the ard stiurthóir personally initiated the dissolution of Clontarf. I have spoken to some of the members of the the county board who were involved in this process. They said they were brought into a room and had a meeting with Labhrás, who alerted them to "the problem", and who showed them documentation to substantiate his position. I suggested that they might have asked for Clontarf's side of the story and in fairness, they accepted what they were shown at face value.
Labhras instructed the county board to dissolve Clontarf, and the board felt they had no choice but to do this. This is how your model of a corporation is working. To assume it can function as a transparent democracy is naive, as most organisations are run by its executive officers.
Labhrás O'Murchú has been central to the dissolution of Clontarf. This had nothing to do with vat refunds, taking control of assets of Clasach or anything of that nature. Another distraction.
The decision of the ardstiurthoir to dissolve Clontarf has done incredible damage to the work and mission of Comhaltas. I say this foremost as a musician, but also as a card carrying member of Comhaltas, a committee member, music promoter etc.
I felt that the whole project was too big for one branch in the first place, however Labhrás was happy to let them go ahead.
Music is about people, and the creation of community in a world that is becoming more alienating. Some of us would rather work with the Clontarf's of this world, and with the Labhrás' also to create these connections between people.
An offer of mediation sprung from this desire to avoid all that has happened in the public domain, which has discredited the efforts of all of us who promote music. Whether the offer was from a truly independent source, or one more favourable to one side than the other, well who's to say.
Some of us care deeply enough about this to look at and listen to both sides, without trying to score clever points with clever arguments.
The mediation was offered to help solve this "in house", but that channel was declined.
In the overall scheme of things for Comhaltas worldwide, Clontarf may be just very small spuds. But the human cost in the way these people were treated is enormous.To the best of my knowledge only three members of the Ard Comhairle have questioned the ard stiúrthóir on this .Staggering, even for a'corporation' that has met many times to discuss this issue.

Your suggestion that the former Clontarf sue the members of the Ard Comhairle, I think this has already happened. All members of the Ard Comhairle received a solicitor's letter in the past two days.
Also, the accusation in the press release from the Ard Comhairle referring to the exploitation of children by the former Clontarf branch is totally unacceptable. This kind of language has no place in an organisation seeking to promote music in children.
It casts a shadow over the work we do in our branches to foster a climate where children can join our organisations in safety.
This is the wrong message from the Ard Comhairle.
The involvement of children in protesting outside congress was done in a dignified and non hostile manner. All credit to the leadership in Clontarf, for this.
Children are often involved in branch activities, and the ard comhairle was happy to let them busk for 15 years to raise the funds for Clasach!
Some of us will keep hoping that eventually sense will prevail, and if only for the good of the organisation and its image, Clontarf's dissolution will be overturned by the Dublin County Board at some future date.
Now if you want to explore the manipulation of the county board Nerd, and the use of the Bunreacht as a whipping tool,you have material for months of work ahead of you.
Beir bua.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 10:14 PM

Stringman, I have no axe to grind in all this. I don't care if Comhaltas is a democracy or not; I know that it's not and indeed cannot be. I agree that the human cost is staggering. But I still think there is culpability on both sides. That's all I'm saying.

My other responses are mainly to the people who keep stating that Comhaltas is not a democracy, and seems not to be accountable to anyone, and that therefore they've broken some law. I'm just trying to explain that this is probably not the case, and that I will be very surprised if they are found to have broken any law or even any of their own bylaws.   Time will tell, of course.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 11:07 PM

You don't need to explain it. We can see for ourselves that they obviously are not accountable to anyone and they obviously are not a democracy. That in itself speaks volumes.

Since when should the status quo not be questioned and imbalances in power/resources remain unchallenged? If they haven't broken any laws - and they probably haven't - all it tells me is that it's time to take another look at the laws.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM

Nerd,
Once again, I find your over-simplification on the question of democracy, well - oversimple.
An organsiation divided into branches suggests that the members of those branches have some sort of say in the policy and running of the organsisation - other than the raising of the arm to salute the leader.
If I join an organisation I want to know my voice is going to be heard and my money is going to be used for the purposes intended.
Are you saying that that does not, and need not exist in CCE? If this is the case, what is the role of a member.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Jun 08 - 04:16 AM

The benefits of membership :The cost of entering competitions is cheaper.children can participate in music making and socialise with other children in a safe environment,.
by becoming amember you are helping to strengthen an organisation that while it has many faults also does much good.
members are free to become involved as branch treasurer, secretary ,publicity officer etc,it is actually up to people to get involved and try and change things from grass roots level.
of course that is much easier said than done[and thats an understatement]
what needs to happen is that less power should be given to the central body and more to the regional branches.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Castle kelly
Date: 15 Jun 08 - 05:03 PM

Clasac is a centre with a social obligation to the people in the surrounding areas. It is meant to have an outreach programme for the benefit of the local community. It has already alienated the people of clontarf and elsewhere who are involved in traditional music/arts and and as a result it is in a position where it would have little or no local support. If you alienate all of the traditional local community then how will it work as a profit making business? How will it use its' revenue to promote trad music song and dance. Clasac has to operate as a profit making business in order to survive and to do this it needs the local traditional community. Balm is needed to heal wounds,trying to damage people's reputations cannot improve the situation. Local politicians have a role to play and should be to the fore of seeking a solution.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 09:31 AM

I read in this morning's Irish Times that the Comhaltas leadership has refused the services of a mediator in its negotiations with Clontarf - can anybody tell me why I am not surprised?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 03:06 PM

From Irish Times 16th June 2008

Comhaltas rejects call for mediator in dispute over €11m music centre
PAUL CULLEN

COMHALTAS CEOLTÓIRÍ Éireann, the body that promotes traditional music, has rejected calls for a mediator to be appointed to resolve an internal dispute over an €11 million music centre in Clontarf, Dublin.

A weekend meeting of the Comhaltas ardchomhairle discussed the dispute with its Clontarf branch, which it has dissolved, but did not accede to requests for the appointment of a mediator.

The organisation now intends to open the Clasach arts centre on East Wall Road in the autumn without the co-operation of most local members.

Dublin lord mayor Paddy Bourke and other local councillors had asked CCÉ to agree to mediation. Saturday's ardchomhairle meeting also received a written request for mediation from the branch itself.

CCÉ chief executive Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú told The Irish Times last week a mediated settlement was not possible under the rules of the organisation. In May, its annual conference had confirmed the original decision by the ardchomhairle in March to dissolve the branch and this decision excluded the possibility of mediation.

Mr Ó Múrchú likened the situation to the administration of the GAA: "If some of the Dublin players were sent off in a match, the GAA would hardly pay heed to councillors asking them to review the decision. So why should we?"

Both sides have traded allegations in the dispute. Comhaltas has accused the Clontarf branch of leaving contractors on the building unpaid and of wrongfully applying for a VAT refund.

Rejecting these claims, the branch alleged head office wrested control of the building after its members had "done all the hard work", and that it withdrew support for previously agreed loans.

Mr Ó Murchú, a Fianna Fáil senator who has led Comhaltas for more than 40 years, accused his critics of personalising the issue and of abusing him personally.

Maurice Mullen, chair of the dissolved branch, said Clontarf members had been given no right of appeal. He called for a "courageous conversation" on the issues.

Mr Ó Murchú insisted the ardchomhairle's decision involved an "in-built appeal".


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 03:53 PM

Mr Ó Murchú, a Fianna Fáil senator who has led Comhaltas for more than 40 years, accused his critics of personalising the issue and of abusing him personally.
Has he been abused on this thread?
heres one,
President ,Labhrás ó Murchú, (known affectionately here as 'Larry-The Lab Rat') ballisticated, claiming that ALL money raised by branches which was not needed for local organisation, automatically belonged to Head Office.
probably best to avoid any more comments like this.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest-North Dublin
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 04:05 PM

Dear Stringman,

I found your blog of 13th June '08 very interesting but disturbing reading? Why am I not surprised?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Emmo
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 04:47 PM

According to the Irish Times - Mr Ó Murchú insisted the ardchomhairle's decision involved an "in-built appeal".

Lads, tell me, what's an "in-built appeal"?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,caitlín
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM

I think this is an example of in-built appeal:

> "CCÉ chief executive Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú told The Irish Times last week a mediated settlement was not possible under the rules of the organisation."

Why not?

Because it isn't, that's why.


It's where you don't have to prove anything to anyone but yourselves. It's where the rank and file pay their dues but can't change things for years at a time. It's where a politician can stay in power for 40 years and do whatever he likes with no outside restraint.

And then he whines and snivels about being criticised. Poor baby.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 16 Jun 08 - 08:03 PM

I'm not being over-simple at all, Jim. In fact, I'm trying to recognize the complexities of arts management in the nonprofit world.   The oversimple thing is just saying "this situation is bad; comhaltas isn't democratic." The complicated thing is figuring out if it should be, and if so, what to do about it.

All I'm saying is that different organizations are organized differently, and that

(1) there is no legal obligation for a membership organization to be organized as a democracy

and

(2) many are less democratic than CCE.

Thus, wondering "how could this happen?" doesn't make a lot of sense. Furthermore, there are good historical and practical reasons why such organizations aren't democracies.

As the Captain points out, membership already comes with benefits, and people join in order to access those benefits. If the benefits aren't good enough, no one is forced to join. It's not like a country, where you are forced to pay the taxes even if you disagree with the government! Right now, the vast majority of members will stay with the organization no matter what happens with Clontarf, because the benefits are worth it to them.

Some such organizations give members some form of "voting" rights, others don't. Whether we should change the law to force the issue is a question for the Houses of the Oireachtas, and ultimately the voters. As Bonnie says, that option is certainly possible.

However, you are being simplistic if you think all non-profit organizations with members who contribute money should be democracies, and if you think you could create legislation to ensure that. I tend to agree with you that Comhaltas could use more democracy, not less. But that's different from saying that there's some kind of legal "accountability" requirement. If that requirement were enacted for all nonprofit membership organizations, it would be a logistical nightmare that would cripple many small organizations.

For most such organizations, "members" are really just contributors who derive some benefits from their contributions--like, say, getting a program guide from a local arts centre, or a newsletter from a local historical society. If an arts centre decides to fire a popular manager, or to move to a new building, the membership does not get to vote on this, generally speaking.

If membership DID vote on such decisions, most organizations would shut their doors. Politicians have the lure of actual power calling them to run for office. Imagine if you had to "run" for a low-paid, arts administrator job and could be voted out after a couple of years for not doing what the current membership wants. Or, imagine if you had job security, but had to enact whatever program plans were voted in by the members, so you'd just be a "rubber stamp." No one with any sense would take such a job.   

Because of this, it would not be workable to organize most arts organizations as democracies. The problem with legislating something like this separately for comhaltas is figuring out the legal grounds on which to claim that comhaltas differs from other organizations who could not survive being that democratic. This is a very complicated proposition.

Finally, I think you are once again not only oversimplifying but in fact distorting the facts in your posts. When you say that Labhras refused "the services" of a mediator, it sounds like a friendly offer of service was made by a trusted mediator. In fact, when you read the article, you find out what happened: some local politicians, including the Mayor, tried to force both sides to recognize the authority of an outside mediator. This is an "offer" that is bound to be "accepted" by whoever has lost this round of the fight (they have nothing to lose by accepting), and "rejected" by whoever has won (they have nothing to gain by accepting).

What Labhras rejected was the notion that politicians who aren't part of comhaltas should be allowed to tell the organization what to do. He is making a claim that the comhaltas constitution is authority enough. His position is understandable. One, he practically HAS to say that, or he is voting "no confidence" in the system that has kept him Chief Executive for 40 years. Two, he's probably right, legally. But anything can happen, and the more politicians get involved, the more likely he is to cave and accept mediation, especially if the politicos can make it hard for the Clasac Centre to function.

As you say, his rejecting the imposition of legally-binding mediation isn't surprising. But it doesn't prove that Comhaltas is wrong. It also doesn't prove that Clontarf is right, or even that they're negotiating in good faith. It just proves that the former Clontarf branch is trying to find a way to reverse the ardchomairle's decision, and that Comhaltas doesn't want it reversed.

Wait, we knew that already, didn't we?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 02:13 AM

Nerd
2 responses
Still don't know what 'rights' - apart from "come in, sit down, shut up" - a member has.
2 isn't there a word missing from your reply - how about "music" - which is what it is supposed to be about.
You may not know who is wrong or right - some of us have been here before when it was blatantly about politics, and when it was swept under the carpet - thanks to the lack of democracy you appear to either actively support or be an apologist for.
If, as you appear to be saying, there is no democracy in Comhaltas, nor the need for it, surely a second - best step would be a mediator - or is that out of the question also?
In many quarters O'Murchú is referred to as 'Chairman Lao' (for the non-Irish - Labhras is pronounced 'Lowros'.
Now where did I put my little red book!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Cathal
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 04:54 AM

Nerd,
You wrote
<>
My understanding is that the site for the Clasach centre was given to Clontarf by the City Council. Surely that gives the Lord Mayor and the local councillors every right to get involved in trying to restore local involvement in the centre?
By refusing to accept the councillors offer of mediation, Labhras just keeps digging himself into a deeper hole .


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Frank F.
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 05:07 AM

Nerd

The local politicians you refer to are the councillors for the area. As the site that Clasac was built on is owned by Dublin City Council and leased to Comhaltas at a negligible rate the councillors have a very direct interest in this controversy.

One question for you! Do you think that the Dept of Arts, Sport and Tourism would have given funded the Clasac development had they known beforehand that it would have had the direct and almost immediate consequence of dissolving a vibrant branch of over 400 members thereby putting at risk the promotion and propagation of Irish music and culture in Dublin and beyond?
(And it is a direct consequence - without funding there would be no clasac and without clasac there would be no dissolution!)


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddleruairi
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 09:18 AM

i haven't been on this in a while but i was reading some very interesting comments below and thought i might as well share some more of my views.

i (think) i understand what nerd is saying but i do agree with the point that it should be about the promotion of music.

the sole purpose of the clasac centre is to promote music, that is the whole point of its existance. but because of this controversey i for one do not know how on earth the centre is going to be run. I can't see any of the dublin branches, let alone clontarf, using the building for their personal use and i can't see people coming up from other branches around the country to use it because it doesn't make sense with the commuting and all. The use of it for concerts is also seriously in doubt, people that are asked to play may not due to the circumstances and im sure that people in the dublin area won't attend such concerts in protest.

this is surely not just damaging for the promotion of music in dublin but for music in general. it is also logistically insane to try and run such a centre when you have a good idea that people probably wont avail of its services due to the ongoing controversey. how are comhaltas going to pay employees and bills and such if they have no sizeable income? if the head organisation are not going to try to resolve the clontarf issue from a principles point of view than maybe they should just consider it from a business point of view because that clearly makes sense. you have to question what advice cce are getting on the situation business wise.

labhras' comparison with the GAA and sending offs is a bit wide of the mark. it would be closer if he compared it to the GAA dissolving a local GAA club like the crokes or na fianna, because that is what clontarf is in terms of CCE.

also it is a bit much to be complaining about being personally attacked and criticised if you are a senator (or whatever he is). how can you expect to be untouchable and not criticised if you are in such a powerful position? the only thing i can think of is that the 40 years of power has clouded his judgement and he is becoming more disillusioned. there is also good reason for his critics to remark on his peformance due to past ridiculous decisions made by himself and the ard comhairle.

i just have one question for you nerd that i'd like to know the answer to, if i made a donation to a charity organisation for example concern that works in africa, do i have a right to know where and how my money is being used? and do i have a right to access their bank accounts seeing as they are a publicly funded and non profit making organsation? if you could clear that up it would be great!

finally, i dont know about anyone else, but i really dont think comhaltas is a 'non-profit making organisation'! cce clearly makes a huge profit, you only have to look at the amount of money made from the fleadh, bru boru and other such ventures. it is also widely known that cce has millions in the coffers, so why is this term used?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Declan
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM

Ruarai,

Comhaltas would be described as a "not for profit" organisation, rather than a non-profitmaking one. Some "not for profit" organisations actually make large amounts of profit. The disctinction is that not for profit orgs are supposed to be primarily motivated by considerations other than profit - in the case of Comhaltas that would be (you might expect) the promotion of the music. Labhrás and Co would do well to remember that.

Comhaltas was founded by a group of musicians whose main interest was promotion of the music, the survival of which was under a real thrat at the time. Through the efforts of these people and others the music is now thriving and thankfully is in no danger of dissappearing any time soon. However the current leadership of Comhaltas can claim little credit for this situation. They have lost their way a long time ago and those interested in the survival of Comhaltas (personally I don't care too much about whether it does or not) would do well to do something about that.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Fiddleruairi
Date: 17 Jun 08 - 07:17 PM

thanks for clearing that up declan!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 02:34 AM

The 'not for profit' tag now stretches in to many €millions in the form of grants from the public purse.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 04:36 PM

Re CCEs 'not for profit' status:
While having a sort-out of old magazines and books I came across an article in Phoenix Magazine, Dec 6th 2002, by 'Goldhawk' under the general heading of 'Pillars of Society' which deals with, among other things, CCEs financial status. This is an extract:
"Patricia Quinn et al viewed this a way for CCE to get on the arts funding gravy train to complement its income from the, which is supposed to be ring-fenced for promoting the Irish language.
This year CCE got €500,000 from this source (Department of Gaeltacht) and, indeed, Ó Murchú has proved very effective at tapping the public purse and is a consistent recipient of Cultural Relations Committee funding for US events. Also, Brú Ború in Cashel -one of a number of Comhaltas centres around the country - managed to land no less than €1.5 million from Bord Fáilte to build an underground theatre. There was a further €650,000 from the Department of Arts last year for this project which was officially opened by Síle Dev........
Comhaltas regularly claims to have 400 branches even if some of these are very small indeed. Nevertheless, the organisation is a very successful one and although the accounts are not published, Goldhawk can reveal that there were accumulated profits of €1.5 million at the end of last year. "Wages, pension, travel and subsistence" amounted to €550,000 (including a top-up sum for pensions). The biggest single element here would be Ó Murchú's salary although the senator refused to elucidate Goldhawk on the amount he takes out of his organisation every year......
Ó Murchú's ability to use the Seanad to push the interests of CCE was never clearer than with the passage of the Copyright Bill in 1999 which was initially opposed by the senator despite the fact that the Government was pushing it through. In this case, he put Comhaltas before FF but in a most Machiavellian manner, managed to end up onside at the end of the day after tying up a very unusual deal with the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) whereby CCE was issued a blanket licence "to cover all official Comhaltas functions".
The Letter of Agreement also stated that IMRO would fund CCE to the tune of €63,500 annually and also provided for an annual €32,000 subvention for the Brú Ború venue run by Ó Murchú's wife, Una. No other CCE centre was mentioned.
In return, CCE agreed "to support IMRO's submission to the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment in relation to the proposed Copyright Bill". In other words, Ó Murchú did a U-turn on his stance on the Bill but only when he protected CCE from the clutches of IMRO. Clearly, other traditional music bodies - outsiders in his eyes - could fend for themselves."

I also found a publication called 'Comhaltas 1968, which carried an article entitled 'A Library of Traditional Music'. The article states that CCE had just received a grant towards the establishment of such a library.
Can anybody tell me if a library or archive exists, as if so, where they are housed? If there are such facilities, how are they indexed and how can they be accessed?
In addition to all this, of course, are the collosal grants awarded to the organisation last year for capital projects.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM

good post, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 18 Jun 08 - 07:31 PM

Just to clarify my own position, I'm not really defending Comhaltas. It's just that each new development in the story, such as Labhras refusing mediation, is trumpeted on this list as fresh evidence of wrongdoing, when it actually proves nothing either way. And weird innuendoes are made about comhaltas's "not-for-profit" status involving what is really a question of budgets, not of profiteering.

For the record, there is no legal or broadly-accepted distinction between a nonprofit organization and a not-for-profit one. In general, these are two terms for the same thing...some people prefer one term and some the other. It is perfectly acceptable and even desirable for a non-profit or not-for-profit to accumulate funds to carry over from year to year, thus technically operating at a profit. If they don't do this, they become extremely vulnerable at the turn of the fiscal year if a grant or other revenue stream falls through. One organization I used to work for had to lay everyone off and re-hire them two months later!

Jim, getting millions of government euros doesn't constitute profit, nor is it "stretching" the not-for-profit distinction. If the organization spends that money to meet its goals, and even if it invests money to spend on its goals next year (thus operating at a profit for a given year), it generally doesn't break the rules. Nor is paying the staff of an organization a salary considered profit.

The distinction (if anyone is interested) is that the money brought in by a not-for-profit organization cannot be distributed among shareholders, owners or officers. It is held by the corporation and must be spent in the advancement the corporation's goals. Staff members may earn set salaries, but they may not share in profits, as in a for-profit company. This allows an organization like Comhaltas to accumulate money for several years before starting a project like the Clasac centre.

Once again, it is possible to make assumptions based on the name "not-for-profit," and try to make the perfectly routine operation of such an organization sound sinister. It's possible to make it sound like an organization is profiteering because it receives "millions" in grants. But the figures quoted above are really not a huge amount of money in the arts world, and they're small in overall government budgets. They seem big for trad arts, certainly, but there are organizations doing classical music with a far greater budget.

As for Jim's suggestion that I didn't mention "music" enough in my last post, in fact what I spoke of were "arts," and I mentioned that this was about "arts" management and "arts" centres and "arts" organizations many times in my post. Although comhaltas's name mentions musicians, it is devoted not only to music but to dance and language arts as well. It is a classic arts organization, shares similar goals with other arts organizations, and is governed by the same rules that govern others. Those rules allow it to accumulate money for multi-year projects, pay staff, and top up pension plans without violating its not-for-profit status.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Jun 08 - 01:53 AM

"They seem big for trad arts, certainly, but there are organizations doing classical music with a far greater budget".
What on earth are you trying to prove Nerd? - we are talking about traditional music - you know - the one that receives virtually not a penny in the UK.
We are also talking about an organisation which has a hand permanently in the public purse, thanks to the position and influence of a leader who is happy to exploit that position to guarantee it remains there.
It should be remembered that the figures quoted in the article are now 16 years old and will now much exceed that, thanks to 'The Action of The Tiger' - but none of us are privy to that information.
We wouldn't be having this discussion if C.C.E. published its accounts, or is that another of your items 'not wanted on voyage?
Perhaps you can tell us - are charities not required to keep books and publish accounts?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 19 Jun 08 - 03:39 PM

Jim, I'll just drop this angle after this post, as I sense you are misunderstanding me. You keep making insinuations, and I keep trying to rein them in, pointing out that there isn't really any evidence of anything illegal. I just wish you'd stop because insinuating financial wrongdoing on this list isn't productive and only fans the flames. Also, in the end, we can bloviate endlessly here about whether comhaltas has broken any rules or laws. It won't change either the facts of the case or the outcome.

As to your questions, "are charities [in Ireland] not required to keep books and publish accounts," I don't know. Do you? If you do, why not tell us which laws you think they are breaking, instead of dealing in innuendos?

I do know the laws in the US. Here, if they got this much money, they would be required to commission an audit and submit the report to the Federal Government. (Additional state requirements depend on the individual State.) In the US, there is also a public disclosure requirement, but the law only requires that the information be available on a paper form called a Form 990 during business hours to anyone who turns up at the head office. The same may well be true in Ireland, in which case you'd have to go to the head office to get this information.

When I said that many other arts organizations outside the trad arts realm have a larger budget, I wasn't trying to change the subject. I was pointing out that your insinuation that a large budget must mean that Comhaltas is violating its not-for-profit status is pretty nonsensical, because other non-profits have way more money and aren't in violation of any laws.

Finally, the issue you describe very well here:

"It is also an organisation which has a hand permanently in the public purse, thanks to the position and influence of a leader who is happy to exploit that position to guarantee it remains there..."

is one that will be familiar to many who have worked in such organizations. Labhras's personality is a two-edged sword, because, make no mistake, that is often exactly the type of personality you NEED running such an organization to ensure it gets its share of funding. It cannot have been a bad thing for Irish traditional music to have had such a driving force running comhaltas. His hand in the public purse, for the most part, has helped the music thrive.

Think of it this way: on the one hand you lament that in the UK traditional music gets no funding. On the other you lambaste Labhras for muscling up to the public purse in Ireland and wresting away money for traditional music. There is a bit of a disconnect here, in the sense that if there were a Labhras-like figure in the UK, the funding situation for traditional music might be better.

Sadly, the other side of Labhras's personality type is that when it comes in conflict with others in the organization, the results can be ugly, as in this case. So we can agree on the unpleasant aspects of his character. But that's often the package: a strong leader who will succeed externally in raising the profile of their chosen art form, also has a hard time playing well with others within his own organization. (Cecil Sharp was a classic example of this as well.) This pattern is not a coincidence; it's a common personality type.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jun 08 - 03:28 PM

"there isn't really any evidence of anything illegal."
Neither is there evidence to the contrary - CCE is such a closed shop that even Labhras' closest collegues have been unable to find out how much he or his wife earns (see Breandán's earlier posting) - I don't know any politicians with that privilege.
I asked if CCE have a library - and received no reply. If they have, where is it housed and what access is there to it; if they haven't - did they return the grant they received to establish one?
It is inconceivable that a music organisation can exist for over half a century without either a library or sound archive, yet I have been unable to discover the existence of either.
"Are charities [in Ireland] not required to keep books and publish accounts,"
I don't know - they certainly are in the UK. If they aren't in Ireland, how else are we to know that the large sums of public money aren't being misused or misappropriated?   
"Labhras's personality is a two-edged sword,"
I am not interested in Labhras's personality (though I was interested to note that you appear to be familiar with it). I am interested in the fact that he appears to be answerable to no-one.
"His hand in the public purse, for the most part, has helped the music thrive."
That is not the case. Twenty odd years ago Irish music could have disappeared without the existence of CCE. Now it is surviving very well without - some would say, in spite of it. Don't take my word for it - read Labhras's Oireachtais report on Irish music, which was even unacceptable to his political collegues and had to be shelved. I'll happily supply you with some of the many protests that greeted its publication.
Beandán Breathnach put it beautifully when he described Comhaltas as "an organisation with a great future behind it".
"if there were a Labhras-like figure in the UK, the funding situation for traditional music might be better."
This appears to assume that the money received is being spent wisely - while some of us believe it isn't - the extreme secrecy surrounding CCEs finances make it impossible to discover whether our suspicions are correct or not.
The point of this thread is that Labhras is answerable to nobody, CCE membership, the taxpayer, his own committee. He is a political appointee for life, should wish to be. The situation appears to exist that if he wakes up tomorrow morning, spills his coffee, burns his toast and stubs his toe - he can expel a couple of branches to make himself feel better. The sad thing is that many rank and file members will support his doing so.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Nerd
Date: 20 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM

As I said, I will drop this now. Rant away, Jim!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 20 Jun 08 - 08:23 PM

Thanks Nerd for your rational posts which went a long way to shedding some light on this interminable and tiresome debate. I think Jim showed his true colours with his statement in an earlier post "we are talking about traditional music - you know - the one that receives virtually not a penny in the UK." - maybe he'd prefer we return to the old days of "give Paddy a pint and he'll play all night" where the Irish Arts Council paid out 0.9% of their funds to traditional music and the other 99.1% to the so called higher arts. Fair play to Comhaltas and Labhrás if they can get funds for new and improved traditional arts centres and to hell with the begrudgers!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 20 Jun 08 - 08:45 PM

Many people who read this thread and many thousands more who dont, work very hard to promote Irish Traditional Music and song. Many organise and run small festivals, both within and outside of the Comhaltas organisation. Organisers can apply for funding from various organisations, Local Authority Arts department, The Arts Council, Fáilte Ireland, etc.
When they apply, or enquire about these grants they will be informed of the criteria by which they will be eligible. In most cases the rules and requirements will be freely available and accessable.
They will make an application, outlining in detail the plans for the event, budget, organisers, and many other details.
Does this sound familiar so far??
If the application is successful, you will be informed of how the grant will be paid, ie half before and the remainder after the event, ON PRODUCTION OF FULL ACCOUNTS AND A DETAILED REPORT.
The funding bodies publish lists of successfull applicants

All very hard work you'll agree, but fair - very fair. You make your pitch and if it is deserving and if the money is there you will get grant aid.

Among its other duties, the newly established Meitheal regional organisations are tasked with distributing C.C.E. within the organisation.
Is the Meitheal organisation elected by the members? No.
Do they publish guidelines for who can apply? No.
Do they publish the application criteria? No.
Is there an application form? No.
How is the grant paid out and when? Well we dont know.
Do Metheal insist on a detailed set of income and expenditure accounts? Dont know?
Do C.C.E. publish a list of successfull applicants? No.

See what i'm getting to? There is no accountability. The money is a personal slush fund to be distributed as the old guard desires. Any branch who don't toe the line or dare to criticise the Old Guard, will simply be ignored re funding. Oh and dont forget to invite the old guard to the launch banquet also or else!! And remember folks this is YOUR money. Your hard earned taxes. Before a hundred of you jump down my throat, I am not saying that the branches or the event organisers don't deserve their funds.
I am saying that if the systems, checks and balances are not there then it will be corrupt. It has to be by human nature. I hope that someone reading this will bring this situation to the attention of the relevant government department, or perhaps someone from Comhaltas HQ can enlighten us further


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 04:02 AM

Nameless Observer
"give Paddy a pint and he'll play all night"
No, I do not want to return anywhere; I want to see that what is happening now to Irish music will continue to happen, and the only way to ensure that is even-handedness and openness as far as national funding is concerned.
Ireland now has a National Music Archive which is the envy of the world; the Irish Folklore Department houses one of the finest collections of music and song in Europe, if not the world; regional archives and music centres are beginning to appear; music and singing schools and festivals are springing up like mushrooms. Arguably the most influential event in the teaching of Irish music, The Willie Clancy Summer School (the formation of which Labhras turned down the invitation to participate in because the organisers refused to include competitions) is celebrating its 37th year next month. All this, and much more is happening without Comhaltas, yet they remain the recipient of the largest (by far) amount of public money and they continue to hold the support of the politicians.
When Minister Éamon O'Quiv promised financial support to The Michael Coleman Centre in Sligo, then had a change of heart and insisted that the money be handed to CCE, Labhras had no hesitation in taking over the centre. His report to Oireachtais, his opposition to the Arts Council policy which followed and the dirty deal with IMRO was totally about money and the control of public funding. Sligo and Clontarf appears to have been about the acquisition of property. The question of the ownership of Bru Boru has yet to hit the fan.
In all this Comhaltas still continues to play an invaluable role; its real strength and contribution to Irish music lies, and has always lain with its branches and in the work of its teachers, yet it is precisely these people who are being treated with contempt by the leadership.
Ireland appears to be heading for an economic downturn. If this is the case, we know from experience that in such circumstances it is always the arts that are first to suffer, and the traditional arts will be invariable in the front line of any cuts. I understand from a friend on this thread that this is already beginning to happen and that her own work is being curtailed by the developing situation.
If we have anything less than even-handedness, all the work done by the people who set up ITMA, WCSS, The Coleman, Padraig Okeefe, Seamus Ennis Centres..... etc, will have been undone - that will guarantee us a return to the Dark Ages of Irish Music.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 12:05 PM

Jim, that post has me confused. First you mention things like the Traditional Music Archive, Folklore Department, etc (all of which cost money to set up and run). Then you say that CCE "remain the recipient of the largest (by far) amount of public money".

Didn't the recent renovation of the Cork School of Music cost over €60 million? And the Arts Council must be getting around €100 million per year from the Department of Arts, Heritage and Sport. And isn't the Arts Council (which in their 2004 Report on the Traditional Arts went against the wishes of the CCE) responsible for doling out that money to the many applicants around the country, including to the CCE? In that same report the Arts Council admitted that they donated €37,000 to the Willy Clancy school, but nothing to the much larger Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann. Also, around that time, about 17 branches of CCE applied to the Arts Council for grants, and only 4 were granted (for a total of less than €7,000!).      

Then you say you want the traditional arts to be funded and successful, and yet you seem to condemn Labhrás and CCE for working their butts off to do just that.

Don


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 12:54 PM

Fair comment Gulliver.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,PJ
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 01:47 PM

"Labhrás and CCE for working their butts off" ? And the people of Clontarf didn't?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 01:50 PM

Don,
Long term - CCE is the recipient of largest grant money for Traditional music - have a look at the millions that were awarded to them last year for capital projects.
Nobody objects to them getting as much money as they need, but not at the expense of other activities. I think you will find that O'Murchu's report is aimed at getting it at the cost of other organisations - if you haven't, please read it, and will happily send you the full article from Phoenix.
The report was followed up by loud and long protests by O'Murch at the Arts Council Initiative 2005-2008; Mrs Labhras is a board member. If you haven't read CCEs protests against the Initiative - again, please do - much of them appeared in the pages of Treor.
Of course CCE should get a slice of the cake; but they appear to want the whole bakery!
The report was shelved because of the protests at O'Murchú's failure to include activities other than CCE's.
If the Irish economy does take a swan-dive and money for the arts is cut, the survival of all other projects will depend totally on the co-operation of all interested bodies. Comhaltas is notorious for refusing to work with anybody who won't allow them to call the tune. Given the influence that O'Murchú has politically, this does not auger well for Traditional music.
Cap'n
You're beginning to sound like a nodding dog (if a nodding dog can sound) - have you no ideas of your own?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 03:53 PM

Can I clear something up before this polarises into a slanging match.
My first introduction to Irish music was hearing Felix Doran play at a Comhaltas concert in Manchester sometime in the mid-sixties - I was hooked from then on.
When we started collecting her in Clare, the first musicians we met and recorded were not only CCE members, but founder members; Junior Crehan, Sean Reid, J.C. Talty... all neighbours and friends of Willie Clancy (also a key figure in CCE), who we never got to meet. Some of our the musicians we count(ed) among our oldest friends were members; without their friendship and generosity we would never have recorded the music and information that we did.
Any antipathy I feel towards Comhaltas is reserved exclusively for the leadership and its behaviour towards its rank-and-file members and other people working in the field of traditional music. I believe both have been served badly by Monkstown and the present situation at Clontarf is symptomatic of the disregard in which they are held.
Already this discussion is beginning to appear to be a for-against one, which is not how I feel about the organisation in general.
While I have some reservations about how CCE works, which I have aired on this forum in the past, they in no way reduce the respect I have for the many members who I know and count as my friends.
If this discussion is going to expand beyond the 'Clontarf' issue, I would much rather it did so off-line where I will be more than happy to air my views, supply any information I have and receive any anybody might care to give me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Cluain Tarbh
Date: 29 Jun 08 - 08:29 AM

A word of thanks! Once again we got marvellous support from the Traditional Music Community - artist and punter alike - at our fundraiser in the Cobblestone on June 12th last. A packed house was treated to a veritable feast of music and song.

Thanks so much to everybody for coming out to support us once again! Especially Thanks to all the artists who gave so generously of their time and talent.

    * Mick (Accordion) O Connor and Brian Kelly
    * Máire Breathnach
    * Niamh Parsons and Siobhan Moore
    * Alan Doherty and Mick Broderick
    * Pat Good and Liam kennedy
    * Mary Nugent and Frank Walsh
    * Jesse Smith and John Blake

Thanks to our MC on the night - Aoife Mullen and to Derek Duff on sound. Thanks also to Anne, Rosie and Julie who put so much work into organising the event.

Lastly thanks to the Cobblestone for hosting the night.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 06:47 AM

The very best of luck to all participants in the Leinster Fleadh this weekend (, particularly those from the Reel Clontarf. It doesn't matter who's name is on the door of the practise room, or if you are not listed as part of a Clontarf group/band on the programme.   

You are all the greatest!

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: GUEST,Guest - Micheál
Date: 11 Jul 08 - 06:59 PM

When is the dissolution of the Clontarf branch going to be lifted? Everything has gone very quiet lately.... Does that mean that talks are going on to lift that undemocratic, unfair and unwarranted dissolution? Hopefully so as traditional music, in Dublin and nationally, need a fantastic branch like Clontarf.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 08 - 07:26 PM

Well done to all the musicians who played in the junior competitions today in the Leinster fleadh esp the children from the Clontarf Branch, the were called 'DN' in the programme could someone from HQ please explain this. Delighted to see this bureaucracy hasn't interfered with the standard of music being played at grassroots level. There were quite a number of clontarf [DN] winners today.They are to be applauded and encouraged.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 04:21 AM

Very sound performance from all Clontarf musicians.

I strongly object to the Fleadh organisers refusing to allow our branch have a name. Apparently we are no longer allowed use the name Cluain Tarbh in any shape or form.

I find this strategy most insulting and devisive,
"divide and conquer" is probably the thinking behind it.

Our individual musicians, duets, trios etc are all entered without a club name, but under their home addresses. Our ceili bands and grupai ceoil are listed as Ceili Band, or Groupa Ceoil DN (for Dublin North, I think).

Although it doesn't stop our success, the "no name" policy of cce hq
manages to mask and cover up our club.

We are still 400 people, still united, still great musicians, still well meaning and decent people. Stop treating us like crap Labhras. We are not going away.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Jul 08 - 09:58 AM

No longer allowed to use the name of the district where you are based, in any way, shape or form? Even if you're a private, independent organisation? Surely that can be legally challenged. And if you do call yourself "Clontarf" something (whether in Irish or English) what are they going to do about it? Sue you?

Get a lawyer's opinion.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 04:56 AM

Thanks Bonnie,

that sounds like a good plan. will definitely check it out.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: oggie
Date: 15 Jul 08 - 05:36 AM

Except for Tax purposes there is currently no formal Charity registration in Ireland and nothing like the regulation that occurs in England. Plans to change this went out to consultation in 2006 but as of now there has been no new legislation.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 06:52 AM

The newly formed branch of Comhaltas are starting classes in the Clasac building in September. Their advertisements in the all ireland fleadh programme and in the Northside News look very optimistic.

Just to let anyone reading this know, the REEL CLONTARF (now known as Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh) are continuing our lessons and our club as normal, enrolment in Marino College on 6th September 9 - 11.30 a.m. We will have the same teachers, same pupils, same bands and groups, same socials, trips, activities, competitions and most importantly, the same democratically elected committee.

As a member of the club and parent of children in the club, I'd like to sincerely thank our committee for persevering through the difficult times of the dissolution and through all the slings and arrows since March. To our officers, Maurice, Diarmaid and Cormac, and to the whole committee, and a special thanks to Ms Motivator, Anne Conway - you have played a blinder, thank you all.

Best of luck to all our musicians at the Tullamore Fleadh.
See you all back in action on the 6th September
Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: knight_high
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 10:46 AM

Best of luck indeed to the Reel Clontarf branch and their competitors at Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Tullamore.

I cannot understand how Comhaltas and the so called "Official Branch" would have the nect to start classes in Clasach

I do notice that Cluain Tarbh Comhaltas is listed as a location on the Comhaltas website and that you are giving classes in Marino College


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Aug 08 - 09:10 PM

Heartning to see so many young musicians from the dissolved clontarf branch of cce attend the scoil éigse and represent Leinster in the All Ireland competitions.Nice to have them announced in the grupa ceol as 'Clontarf'and not the ridiculous Dn3!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 26 Aug 08 - 10:25 PM

"ridiculous Dn3! "...erm, please explain?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 08:04 PM

Any participants in this years fleadh cheoil na hEireann from the dissolved clontarf branch of cce,either solo musicians,duets,trios,ceili bands or grúpaí ceoil were not entered in the official programme as coming from clontarf but from 'Dn3 Áth Cliath'.What was even more ridiculous was that this is what was read out to introduce the competitors. However one of the officials did identify the music group as being from Clontarf Dublin,much to the ammusement of the people in the audience from Dublin.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 27 Aug 08 - 10:25 PM

Thanks for that Guest, but can you explain what 'Dn3 Áth Cliath' means for us monoglots please?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Rowan
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 04:06 AM

Not being a member but having read all the posts I think I have gained an understanding of the publicly-available info. From a lifetime of involvement (at all levels) with voluntary organisations it seems all too familiar.

From an Oz perspective (which means I'm ignorant of specifically Irish legislative details that might nullify my comments) it seems the following could be explored.

1 Getting the locals of Clontarf (meaning Reel Clontarf, now known as Ceoltoiri Cluain Tarbh) back into a situation where they have some proportionate management of the facility they helped establish seems to be a local priority. Surely the Dublin City Councillors (the Local Government controlling the land on which the CLASAC is sited) can be lobbied/pressured/convinced politically into changing the details of "to whom" it is leased, so that the locals can be the major partners in running it.

From the info above it seems the CCT have a lot of people with a lot of abilities who could cover a major part of its future activities; if Monkton/Comhaltas/HQ were "needed" to run particular aspects they could be invited to be (probably 'minority') members of the Board of Management, with Clontarf (CCT) members a similar minority and the Dublin CC administration represented with "balance of power" numbers.

From the posts above I gather that the Senator (how come an elected parliamentary represented can have a paid outside job, let alone avoid accusations of "conflict of interest"? -sorry, I'm living in Oz) has a reputation and history of refusing CCE participation in entities it can't control. If he won't come to the party I'm sure other cultural institutions would be lining up to join in and provide the locals with the required expertise and functions.

2 Getting CCE to be more "accountable" in the way many have recommended. I'm aware that many institutions we think of as "public" are in fact private (and, indeed, multinational) corporations; the ICRC has already been mentioned but Greenpeace is another example of the genre. Several prongs need to be employed, probably at the same time.

2a Political pressure could be applied to have the Parliament (Dail?) legislate that institutions that are not part of govt but are recipients of govt funds conform to a series of model "rules". It might be a stretch to insist (of a "private" organisation) that its constitution meets the requirements of a minimal model, but that has been applied to similar organisations in most states in Oz for the last quarter century. Such "rules" could, however, require an organisation to publish (or make available to all members, as well as the govt) its Annual Accounts, AGM Minutes, procedures and records of Equity, EEO, Grievance Mediation, Disciplinary rules, activities and determinations.

2b Changing the particular representation of the grass-roots membership when there are four layers of appointed elected representatives will take time and persuasion. Given the Clontarf (CCT) members were able (with a reported 400 members and a 95% majority) to outnumber the CCE-appointed committee, some old-fashioned "branch-stacking" might be in order at the local Clontarf level. If the "we have your names" approach is used to exclude particularly "useful" potential members, it would be necessary to convince others to become members and change the local "official" branch committee so that the troublemakers could be allowed back in. If they were still excluded by the Senator, then suggestion 2a would need to include "Rules of membership" and the application process in the Model Constitution.

I hope these suggestions are useful.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 11:53 AM

Indeed they were; thanks Rowan - always said we should never have got rid of the Colonies.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 07:08 PM

Effsee, Dn3 was conjured up by whoever compiled the Dublin fleadh programme in order to not give members from clontarf any status, nobody seems to know what it stands for but it continued through the Leinster and All Ireland programmes. I suppose someone in CCE HQ does!


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 28 Aug 08 - 09:41 PM

OK. Thanks Guest, on pondering I thought it might be something like a postcode or similar.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 08:57 AM

What Guest wrote about nobody knowing what Dn3 is, is nonsense. Dublin 3 is the Dublin postal code for Clontarf.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Aug 08 - 02:05 PM

"Dn3"
Couldn't they have done better than that? Please!
There doesn't seem to be any talk or reasoning on the part of HQ to take any steps forward in mending bridges. After all it is there responsibility, "seeing as they took charge", to see that deep wounds get tended to & to make the healing process as fast & as easy as possible. Being a member from the Boston (US) branch, we don't hear much except what we read, maybe I'm way off but are there any steps at all in seeing that the "new" branch is brought into the fold with at least the respect of the "proded son">

Barry


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 05:07 PM

Gulliver,'Dn.3,Áth Cliath'does not make sense or read well.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 09:22 PM

Jaysus! How maMY Guests have we got here? I say again:-
Thanks for that Guest, but can you explain what 'Dn3 Áth Cliath' means for us monoglots please?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 30 Aug 08 - 09:40 PM

Oops,capslock frenzy! How many Guests?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 01:17 AM

Effsee,

It means "Dublin DN3," equivalent to (say) "New York, NY 10010" or "London NW5"


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 01:27 AM

Map of Dublin Post Codes

Clontarf is there in 3.

According to Gulliver, this is what Dn3 means. What our GUEST is pointing out, I think, is that that isn't how one would actually address a letter--which would, among other things, go to D3, not Dn3.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 10:19 PM

Nerd, I did not say what Dn3 means. I said: "Dublin 3 is the Dublin postal code for Clontarf."


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Effsee
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 10:45 PM

So what does "Áth Cliath'" mean?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Gulliver
Date: 31 Aug 08 - 11:07 PM

Áth Cliath is the Irish name for Dublin.

It's immaterial to me what names are used in the Fleadh--I've nothing to do with it--I simply tried to explain what "Guest" chose to ignore.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 08 - 04:35 AM

If you live in Clontarf why could this address not be used?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: GUEST,Eileen O'Connor
Date: 05 Sep 08 - 04:33 AM

CLONTARF is the "brand" name by which our club is recognised.
Only some of the members of the club actually live in Clontarf. However, everyone lives close by in the surrounding parishes.

(I'm not aware that anyone in the newly formed CCE Cluain Tarbh actually lives in Clontarf).

We are now "Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh" (Clontarf musicians).
This is our new ID. The silly issue over not being "allowed" use our own name will only arise when it comes to competition season again next Spring.

Unfortunately the newly formed branch are called by the name we've been recognised by for 40 years, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann Cluain Tarbh. They will obviously benefit from mistaken identity, as their adverts and the Comhaltas website will refer all enquiries for music lessons in our area to the newly formed branch, without any explanations. It FEELS LIKE identity theft.

Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh, (the Reel Clontarf) have registration for the new term tomorrow (Saturday 6th September) between 9 and 11.30 in Marino VEC, Fairview as always.

Eileen


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 02:40 AM

Gulliver, first you wrote:

What Guest wrote about nobody knowing what Dn3 is, is nonsense. Dublin 3 is the Dublin postal code for Clontarf.

Then you said you did NOT try to say what Dn3 means.

This splits the hair mighty fine.

Riddle me this, then: how was the fact that Dublin 3 is the postal code for Clontarf, relevant to the moniker "Dn3," if you're NOT trying to say that Dn3 means Dublin 3?


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 04:37 AM

Dn3 may be logical, but its meaning is not immediately obvious. In the rest of the Republic we don't use post codes at all, and I don't believe most people would see Dn3 and straightaway think, Ah...Dublin. Every letter I've ever seen or written to the capital, or address advertised, will just say "Dublin 1" (or whichever) - that is, when they bother with a number at all. The abbreviation is not in common usage even locally. If you include the district name (Clontarf, Ranelagh, Rathfarnham etc) you really don't need a number as well. (This is bound to change as the housing explodes outwards, but the old long-established areas of the city are well recognised.) If you write "Dn" even a lot of people here won't understand what you're talking about. We just call it Dublin.

And though the Irish name for the city may be known here, probably a lot of visitors from Britain and America and elsewhere will not make the connection because there's no obvious association between the words (as there is with, say, Cork = Corcaigh).

I think the point Eileen is trying to make is that head office is trying to do everything they can to obscure their identity. This is certainly an effective way to do it. "Dn3" is largely meaningless if you don't automatically think Post Code - which people here don't, because outside the capital we don't have them.

And how on earth do you SAY it? That would lose everyone. Which I suspect is the whole point.


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Subject: RE: Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interru
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 06 Sep 08 - 05:24 AM

Just for interest, I've looked through my address book - built up over the past 30 years and consisting of info given to me by the people who live there - and in every case (when they use a number at all) they have written the district name, then the city, then a number by itself.* Both "D" and "Dn" are redundant, and there is no use of it anywhere in the addresses people have given me. I also see that some names have the same postal number, which means that the names are more area-specific.

If you Google "Clontarf Dublin 3" you get a million hits. Google Dn3 and you get Doncaster (UK). Google "Clontarf Dn3" even searching only the Irish pages and you get zilch. What's that tell you?


*
Donnybrook/Ballsbridge
Dublin 4

Rathmines/Ranelagh/Terenure/Rathgar
Dublin 6

Drumcondra
Dublin 9

Ballyfermot
Dublin 10

Baldoyle
Dublin 13

Mulhuddart
Dublin 15

Rathfarnham/Dundrum
Dublin 16

Stepaside
Dublin 18


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