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Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?

Related threads:
comhaltas and government funding (26)
comhaltas examinations [discussamicably] (27)
Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus (577)
comhaltas fireside sessions (2)
Review: Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann in Shanghai (1)
Comhaltas -North American org, for Irish music (5)


The Sandman 13 Feb 09 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Denzil 13 Feb 09 - 01:48 PM
Joe Offer 13 Feb 09 - 02:37 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 09 - 02:53 PM
Joe Offer 13 Feb 09 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Diarmaid 13 Feb 09 - 05:38 PM
Barry Finn 13 Feb 09 - 06:51 PM
katlaughing 13 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM
The Sandman 13 Feb 09 - 08:25 PM
katlaughing 13 Feb 09 - 11:25 PM
Barry Finn 14 Feb 09 - 01:00 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 09 - 03:55 AM
The Sandman 14 Feb 09 - 04:57 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Feb 09 - 07:16 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Feb 09 - 07:17 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Feb 09 - 07:18 AM
The Sandman 14 Feb 09 - 07:45 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 14 Feb 09 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Denzil 14 Feb 09 - 11:56 AM
Ptarmigan 14 Feb 09 - 01:20 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Feb 09 - 03:44 AM
The Sandman 15 Feb 09 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,cowardly guest 16 Feb 09 - 04:47 AM
Zen 16 Feb 09 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,a lover of trad 16 Feb 09 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Bemused 16 Feb 09 - 09:20 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Feb 09 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Danno 16 Feb 09 - 09:32 AM
Zen 16 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Bemused 16 Feb 09 - 12:17 PM
Ptarmigan 16 Feb 09 - 01:00 PM
The Sandman 16 Feb 09 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Frank F 16 Feb 09 - 03:03 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM
Ptarmigan 16 Feb 09 - 03:57 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Feb 09 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,Frank F 16 Feb 09 - 04:53 PM
Fliss 16 Feb 09 - 06:26 PM
Ptarmigan 16 Feb 09 - 06:56 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Feb 09 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 17 Feb 09 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Kevin Boyle 17 Feb 09 - 10:47 AM
The Sandman 17 Feb 09 - 12:07 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 17 Feb 09 - 09:08 PM
GUEST,Northsider 18 Feb 09 - 05:07 AM
The Sandman 18 Feb 09 - 05:22 AM
caitlin rua 18 Feb 09 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 18 Feb 09 - 11:25 AM
michaelr 19 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM
Effsee 19 Feb 09 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 20 Feb 09 - 11:07 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Feb 09 - 01:05 PM
The Sandman 20 Feb 09 - 01:07 PM
GUEST,Jazzy J 20 Feb 09 - 01:58 PM
The Sandman 20 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM
caitlin rua 20 Feb 09 - 04:30 PM
michaelr 20 Feb 09 - 06:32 PM
Declan 20 Feb 09 - 09:22 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 21 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM
GUEST,Jazzy J 21 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Feb 09 - 03:20 PM
The Sandman 23 Feb 09 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser) 23 Feb 09 - 08:18 AM
The Sandman 23 Feb 09 - 09:27 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Feb 09 - 04:10 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 09 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Bemused 24 Feb 09 - 05:15 AM
The Sandman 24 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 24 Feb 09 - 07:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 24 Feb 09 - 08:11 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 08:14 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 08:18 AM
The Sandman 24 Feb 09 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 24 Feb 09 - 09:02 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 24 Feb 09 - 09:09 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 24 Feb 09 - 09:11 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 24 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM
The Sandman 24 Feb 09 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,I hate Fish Fingers 25 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM
The Sandman 26 Feb 09 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Bemused 26 Feb 09 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 26 Feb 09 - 11:15 AM
The Sandman 26 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 26 Feb 09 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Bemused 26 Feb 09 - 05:03 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 26 Feb 09 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 27 Feb 09 - 04:24 AM
caitlin rua 27 Feb 09 - 04:45 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Feb 09 - 12:58 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Feb 09 - 01:00 PM
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Subject: should o murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 01:27 PM

this is a question,to see what peoples opinions are.


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Subject: RE: should o murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Denzil
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 01:48 PM

Who is 'o murchu' and why should he resign?


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Subject: RE: should o murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 02:37 PM

Say, Dick - as Denzil says, I think maybe you should give a little more description of what the issue is. Wikipedia tells me Labhrás Ó Murchú is the Director-General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, an organisation which exists to promote Irish traditional music and culture. He is also a Senator.

But why should he resign?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 02:53 PM

Yes - but he won't
The whole sorry saga is revealed in the Battle of Clontarf/Comhaltas interruptus thread, from which I understand there is to be a Government enquiry.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 02:58 PM

But Jim, that thread is 556 messages. I read most of them, and it's an interesting issue. Can you or Dick explain briefly what's the situation?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Diarmaid
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 05:38 PM

Should he go?

Definitely! Ó Murchú has made a very good living from Traditional Music - not from playing it but from manipulating it to his own ends.

In my opinion, he is a parasite sucking the life-blood from the fantastic organisation that is Comhaltas.

He believes he can do whatever he wants and crush anyone that stands in his way. To date, he has managed to. I saw a TV program a month or two ago about Stalin and how he operated and, although Labhrás is sometimes referred to as Chairman Lao, I think he is a dead-ringer for Stalin in his modus operandi.

With regard to Clontarf, I have no doubt that he used the branch to get what he wanted, that is, he encouraged them for many years to work for nothing to make the dream that was Clasac a reality. Once it was within grasp, he dissolved the branch and took control.

Of course, this isn't the first time this happened. The West London branch was expelled from Comhaltas by Labhrás in 1979 (for refusing to fundraise for his political interests). They are, I understand, more vibrant than most extant Comhaltas branches and are glad to be free from Ó Murchú's clutches.

All going well, if there isn't a cover-up, the current Departmental enquiry will show how ruthlessly self-serving this man is.

Is it any wonder that most traditional musicians will have nothing to do with him.

For Comhaltas' sake, I hope he goes soon.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 06:51 PM

Resign, for sure, shot, that might be taking it a little to far

Barry, member of the Boston (Hanafin-Cooley) Branch Comhaltas


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM

No brief explanations then, huh? I thought this was a personal vendetta type thread when I first opened it. We don't all keep up with the longer threads, but we are interested.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 08:25 PM

no, its not a personal vendetta ,I am a member of comhaltas,but not the Clontarf branch.
I have not expressed my opinion on this thread,but am asking opinions . in the last five hours I have been out playing music,and am now off to bed.good night .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Feb 09 - 11:25 PM

I understand that, CB, but it is not clear from what has been posted previously in this thread. No one has answered Joe's request and I seconded it.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 01:00 AM

see the thread that Jim linked to above. You'll get the drift after the 1st bunch of posts

Barry


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 03:55 AM

Hi
Here are the facts from nearly a year ago - what little progress has taken place regarding the original incident can be followed in full on the other thread, one of the main ones being that there has been a clamp-down within the organisation on any discussion of the matter and there is to be a departmental inquiry into how the grant money was spent. The old branch continues to operate and do good work outside the organisation, but the building remains firmly in the hands of the leadership (O Murchu). As Diarmaid has pointed out, this is a repeat performance of what happened in London when the West London Branch was expelled (then for politics, this time for cash).
It perhaps should be made clear that the leadership of CCE, Ireland's (once) leading traditional music organisation is a political appointment and there is no democratic structure enabling members to vote on such issues as these.
I am a little surprised that The Cap'n raised the question as it has been debated in full on the thread Joe indicated, but for me, it remains an example of one of the most outrageous and blatant abuse of a political appointment I have come across. It would have done traditional music enormous damage had CCE commanded the respect they once did, but it is behaviour such as this which has lost them that respect, and will continue to do so while the matter drags on
Jim Carroll

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.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 04:57 AM

I raised the matter,because I thought it needed to be discussed .
I was hoping[as I know that there are often two sides to an argument],that some one might come forward explaining
1. the positive sides to O Murchus leadership
2.the CCE leadership position on their actions,re Clontarf.
as a CCE member I believe that CCE members,should have a vote on this.
we should also be allowed to discuss this,on this forum ,providing we do so in a civilised/polite manner,there is no point insulting O Murchu[however , unerstandably aggrieved , people feel] .,
all that will achieve is the closing of the thread


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:16 AM

There is NO WAY it's a personal vendetta. Just concern for fairness. The long thread is a perfectly good one - people are dismissing it without bothering to actually read it. Why re-hash everything here, when it's already been said there? It's not that hard to digest.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:17 AM


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:18 AM

Wooops sorry. To answer the OP, yes he should step down as head of Comhaltas. But he won't, and there's no way to make him. There should be. But there isn't.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 07:45 AM

every CCE member should have a right to vote on this matter .
I do not know O Murchu ,so I do not understand how it can be personal.
I would like to show support for the dissolved branch .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 08:01 AM

He has been in power since the late 60's or early 70's. That's forty years.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Denzil
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for the explanations about O Murchu - seems like a really nice chap!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 14 Feb 09 - 01:20 PM

I know a local branch who, I believe, had the same Chairperson running things for donkeys years!

Why are there no rules within the CCE machine, to ensure that committee members MUST step aside after a maximum of say three years, to let others take a turn?

Surely this rule should be in place throughout the organisation, otherwise all you get are a load of stodgy, stuck in their ways, OLD FARTS in charge of things?

I glanced at a CCE magazine recently, for the first time in many, many years & all I saw were the same tired old faces looking out at me from so many of the photographs.

The Dinosaur needs a facelift!

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 03:44 AM

This is the relevant part of the entry in Fintan Vallely's excellent 'Companion to Irish Traditional Music'.
Comhaltas once did a wonderful job in keeping Irish music alive when, it appeared, nobody else cared. Nowadays, as somebody described, they are an organisation with "a great future behind it".
One of their organisers told me recently, "Comhaltas is going to have to run very fast to keep up with what's going on in Irish music.
Jim Carroll

ENTRY
The organisation has a full-time director general (appointed, not elected - since 1968 this position has been held by Labhrás ÓMurchú) and for many years has had several other key staff: The position of director general is permanent and is not explained or rule-bound in CCE's constitution. The incumbent may also stand for an elected office. Incomes were initially covered by state development funding begun in 1967; since then variously by organisational revenue generated from membership levies, fleadh cheoil and tours proceeds, promotions, grant-aid and fund-raising. CCE's 1999 grant aid of £210,000 came from the government's Irish language budget.
Socio-political interventions.
This democratic political structure has a strong centre whose full-time, waged staff may also be the elected executives of the organisation. Disagreements between these and the 'grass roots' on matters of a broader cultural/political nature have in the past led to internal dispute and resignations. This is no different to what prevails in political parties, but the flexibility of one of the points in CCE's constitution has precipitated political problems in the past: 'development of an environment conducive to the Aims and Objects of the organisation' (Bunreacht, introduction). While this covers the use of the various media, it is also interpreted broadly to include the social/political environment of 'Irish cultural ethos', this incorporating on occasions political ideals and opinions. Thus the organisation caused controversy when in 1971 it cancelled the All-Ireland fleadh as a protest against internment of nationalists in Northern Ireland, and again when it issued statements (and Treoir editorials) taking a stand in the national referendum on abortion in 1983. Director general, Labhras O Murchu, concurrent with his employment by CCE, is presently also a senator for the Fianna Fail political party, sharing with C&W promoter Paschal Mooney a portfolio of 'Spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands'. Such a position is not felt by CCE to be compromising of its national cultural ideal-for under his directorship over almost thirty years, CCE has expanded its remit, successfully lobbying for state and other funding.
The only major study of CCE is The Case for Ireland's Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann by Edward O'Henry {Ethnomusicology, vol. 35. no. 1, 1989). CCE's own (c. 1970) publication Comhaltas - CCE (Bliain-Iris, vol. 1, no. 2 gives historical background to personalities.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Feb 09 - 05:17 AM

thanks Jim .
as far as I am concerned Comhaltas should exist to promote Irish culture .
Political statements and views on subjects such as abortion,should not be their remit.
can you imagine EFDSS , Issuing statements about the Lisbon treaty .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,cowardly guest
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 04:47 AM

YES he should


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Zen
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 05:03 AM

I was a member of the West London Comhaltas back in 1979 so remember him well.

Yes, he should resign for the future good of CCE.

Zen


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,a lover of trad
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 07:01 AM

Yes, he should resign. Is there anyone out there who can mediate or force CCE to talk to the Clontarf side?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:20 AM

No, definitely not - he's done more for trad music down through the years than all of the begrudgers put together. As for Clontarf, the matter was raised at Annual Congress last May and in a unanimous vote all present supported Labhrás and the Comhaltas Ardchomhairle.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:29 AM

"All present" ? Therein lies the rub -


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Danno
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:32 AM

"Unanimous votes" tend to be the hallmark of totalitarian organisations.
Was this a secret ballot or a show of hands?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Zen
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM

he's done more for trad music down through the years than all of the begrudgers put together

Er... no, I don't think so.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 09:34 AM

The ordinary membership didn't get to vote on this. So how meaningful is it?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 12:17 PM

As far as I know every Comhaltas Branch is entitled to send delegates to Congress and, from the sizeable crowd there last year, I assume that they do. As for Bonnie's comment, they looked like "ordinary members" to me.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 01:00 PM

"Was this a secret ballot or a show of hands?"

Speaking of secret ballots, I get the impression that all, or at least most, of those folks on this forum who are in favour of 'Larry-The Lab Rat' staying on, prefer to remain anonymous, while those that think it's time he resigned, are quite happy to stand up & be counted by their peers.

Hmmmmmmm interesting eh!

Cheers
Dick


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 01:25 PM

here is what should happen,every member of comhaltas should be contacted,they should then be able to have a private vote[anonymity guaranteed ] .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Frank F
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 03:03 PM

Jim

I wish to clarify something in your posting of the 14th.

You stated that "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."

There was no doubt about the validity of the rebate. It was applied for with the benefit of professional advice from a tax consultant. What was irregular about the whole affair was the directive that the rebate should be transferred to CCE HQ. The rebate was based on the premise that for tax purposes Clasac was a separate entity to CCE. Therefore to transfer the money to CCE would have undermined the basis of the rebate. Our advice was that this would have been illegal and could have exposed individual members of the branch to potentially large liabilities. However we were suspended with a threat of dissolution if we didn't comply with the directive. Caught between a rock and a hard place we returned the money to Revenue. It was a question of complying with the law rather than with an illegal directive from CCE.
When we were ultimately dissolved the reasons given did not mention our failure to transfer the rebate. This might be read as an implicit acknowedgement of the legal status of the original directive!

Having clarified that I wish to add a personal note on the whole affair. I worked as a volunteer in CCE for 11 years holding various positions in the organisation during that time. My motivation was purely to contribute something back to the community at large. Some people look after the scouts, others the local hurling team, etc. My contribution was the local branch of CCE. I expected nothing in return. I did not expect however to be flung unceremoniously out of the organisation with accusations of financial irregularities and child exploitation.
I consider the actions of Mr Ó Murchú to be nothing less than an assault on the voluntary sector. Bertie Ahern when he was Taoiseach famously gave a speech lauding the contribution of the voluntary sector in Ireland and regreting its demise. Clearly not everyone in Fianna Fail was listening!

....and you were asking should he go!

Frank Flynn
(formerly of Cluain Tarbh CCE)


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 03:36 PM

Thank you for that clarification Frank.
The problem for those of us not involved is that the whole affair has been carried out in such an underhand manner that we have had to piece together the facts.
I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing you the best of luck in your fight - I hope you have better luck than we had in West London.
Best wishes,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 03:57 PM

Sorry for your troubles Jim & Frank.

How many more branches, I wonder, have to go, before 'Larry-The Lab Rat' is asked to clear out his desk?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 04:41 PM

Being a little vague aren't you, Bemused? "As far as I know" and "I assume" and "They looked like" insinuate things without actually saying them. Was there or was there not a full, representative complement of elected branch delegates at this meeting? Or is there any way of actually knowing who voted? Like Captain B, I think the dues-paying (and hard-working) members should have some say in the matter.

In any case it's always easier to gain approval when the opposition gets banished.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Frank F
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 04:53 PM

Thanks for the kind wishes, Jim. I know from the other blog that you have been a consistent supporter. Indeed we wouldn't have suvrvived without the groundswell of support that we received. The good news is that we are still here large as life, doing what we do do best. We have just had our first AGM as Ceoltóirí Chluain Tarbh. We have adopted an exciting programme of events for the year. We'll be posting details on our website http://www.cluaintarbh.net/ as things progress. Check it regularly for updates.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Fliss
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 06:26 PM

mmmm isnt his wife something to do with The Bru Boru Cultural Center ??

We had a fledgling Comhaltas Branch is Jackfield, Telford. (of which I was secretary for 3 years). Very few of us were Irish, just loved the music. We voted to come out of the association because of the high insurance levies. Also because most of the subs went to Head office. I put in a question at Province of Britain congress in about 2003 about the high insurance costs, was fobbed off with some glib reply by ya man. Was allowed to raise it at Congress in Monkstown, to get the same reply.

We still have a wonderful Irish session at The Boat Inn in Jackfield.

British branches traditionally pay more insurance per annum than Irish ones. We dont have property or employees and just needed simple 3rd party liability.

Fliss


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Ptarmigan
Date: 16 Feb 09 - 06:56 PM

"We dont have property or employees and just needed simple 3rd party liability."

Hey Fliss, I think it's the 1st 'party' that's actually proving to be the liability, not the third! ;-)


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:26 AM

In the light of CCE's constant complaint that they should be getting the lion's share of Arts Council funding, perhaps this article from today's Irish Times puts this and the Clontarf affair into context,
Jim Carroll

TRADITIONAL MUSIC BODY ACCUSES FG OF VENDETTA' OVER FUNDING CLAIMS

EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY and STEPHEN COLLINS

COMHALTAS CEOLTOIRI Eireann (CCÉ), the agency that promotes traditional music, has accused Fine Gael of conducting "a vendetta" against it in claiming its State funding lacked transparency.
The organisation's director general Senator Labhras Ó Murchú (FF) said he was astounded by suggestions from Fine Gael's arts spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell TD that secrecy surrounded the millions of euro given annually by the State to CCÉ. He said their accounts were externally audited and certified by the relevant government departments and he could not understand why Ms Mitchell was "politicising what is essentially a voluntary cultural movement".
On Sunday, Ms Mitchell said it was astonishing no one in Government even seemed to know how much CCE was getting with one Minister stating it received €5 million in 2007 and his predecessor saying that that figure was €7 million.
She welcomed the promised transparency for CCE accounts as they will soon have to be made publicly available, but called for equal clarity from the Government.
"When the Charities Bill becomes law later this year, Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann, as an organisation that will enjoy charitable tax exemption under the terms of the Bill, will be obliged to publish its annual accounts."
Ms Mitchell said she had long been seeking information on behalf of the public about how the considerable State money CCE received was actually spent but neither the organisation, nor the Minister dispensing the funds, had been willing to give any such information or to publish their accounts. "This kind of secrecy surrounding public money is unacceptable and particularly so when the organisation is headed up by an elected representative of the ruling political party. It is a pity that it takes a change in legislation to enforce the kind of transparency that is in everyone's interests," she said.
But Mr Ó Murchú said the figures were published in the annual accounts which are made available to all 400 units of the organisation in the State. Copies of those accounts are sent to government departments and management reports were made to the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs on a quarterly basis, he said.
He called on Ms Mitchell to withdraw the suggestion of secrecy and apologise to CCE members and to him personally. In her statement,
Ms Mitchell said CCE branches throughout the country and abroad did important and vital work promoting Irish music and culture but that did not obviate the need for transparency in the use of public funds.
"Last year the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism gave €6 million and the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs gave €1.9 million."The Department of Foreign Affairs also funds some activities abroad and other public monies may also find its way to Comhaltas
Ceoltóiri Éireann but, without any publicised accounts, we simply don't know. In replies to my parliamentary questions, Minister [Martin] Cullen stated the 2007 funding was €5 million but his predecessor the late Séamus Brennan asserted he had given them €7 million," she said.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 05:32 AM

Even the above list of funding can give an understated impression, local branches receive grants of all sorts: the Co Clare headquarters were given 3 million last year for renovations, money from the National Lottery has gone to Bru Boru and the list is likely to go on. As it stands we indeed don't know.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Kevin Boyle
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 10:47 AM

It sounds like you need an Act of Parliament to change aspects of the constitutional status of the President's position.

The fact he is a 'political appointee' is in itself a bad thing. Members should have the decisive influence over who leads their organisation. The fact his appointment is 'for life' is OUTRAGEOUS. It should also be legally compulsory that CCE accounts be published and open for inspection by anyone.

Lobby your TD's. Find some good fellow who will push legislation forward to change the things about CCE that are obviously intolerable.

Hunt down this cute fox.

KB (ex-member West London CCE)


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 12:07 PM

*
    * .



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Feb 2009
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann gets millions… but nobody knows how much - Mitchell

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann gets millions… but nobody knows how much - Mitchell
Fine Gael National Press Office Press Release
..................................................................
Leinster House        Contact:        Olivia Mitchell TD
Dublin 2        Mike Miley        Arts, Sports & Tourism
Ireland        01 6184254        

Monday February 16th 2009

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann gets millions... but nobody knows how much - Mitchell


Nobody in Government knows how much Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann receives in funding from the State with one Minister stating that it received €5 million in 2007 and his predecessor saying that that figure was €7 million, Fine Gael Arts Spokesperson, Olivia Mitchell TD said today (Sunday).

Deputy Mitchell welcomed the promised transparency for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann accounts as they will soon have to be made publicly available but called for equal clarity from Government.

"When the Charities Bill becomes law later this year Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, as an organisation that will enjoy charitable tax exemption under the terms of the Bill, will be obliged to publish its annual accounts.

"I have long sought information for the public about how the considerable State money it receives is actually spent. However, neither Comhaltas, nor the Minister dispensing the funds, have been willing to give any such information or to publish their accounts.

"This kind of secrecy surrounding public money is unacceptable and particularly so when the organization is headed up by an elected representative of the ruling political party. It is a pity that it takes a change in legislation to enforce the kind of transparency that is in everyone's interests.

"Comhaltas branches throughout the country and abroad do important, indeed vital, work promoting Irish music and culture but this does not obviate the need for transparency in the use of public funds. Last year the Department of Arts, Sport & Tourism gave €6 million and the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs gave €1.9 million. The Department of Foreign Affairs also funds some activities abroad and other public monies may also find its way to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann but, without any publicised accounts, we simply don't know.

"In fact, even the Government seems uncertain just how much money it is distributing. In replies to my Parliamentary Questions, Minister Cullen stated the 2007 funding was €5 million but his predecessor the late Seamus Brennan asserted he had given them €7 million. This kind of contradiction and uncertainty does not inspire confidence that there is any supervision at all of how money is administered.
seems like Fine Gael,are on to this at last .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 17 Feb 09 - 09:08 PM

> He will never resign. He will have to be pushed!! No one has the courage to do it!

Guest, it's a matter of legal empowerment, not a lack of courage. What we need are fairer laws, and a less self-interested government. Hard to get one without the other. He has his Fianna Fáil pals to keep him safe.


The Post:

It doesn't matter what the electorate thinks or wants. Fianna Fáil backbenchers will not utter a cheep of opposition to the current party leadership, at least until a general election is looming. Then, they will do whatever they think is in their own self-interest. The national interest does not figure at all in their calculations.

The Independent:

One thing's for sure - there'll be no 'perp walk' of alleged financial wrongdoers at Leinster House. Not while the State's watchdog committees remain so comprehensively toothless and hamstrung as they are today.

Irish Times:

Criticising individuals and institutions whose greed, unethical behaviour and incompetence brought us to this point is not enough. Unless TDs and Senators are willing to lead by example and accept substantial cuts in their lavish expenses and allowances, public confidence in our democracy may be damaged... Fianna Fail's fall from grace has been more spectacular than any other government in this corner of the world, save for Iceland.

The Herald:

The Herald can today reveal the true extent of privileged working environment inside the hallowed halls of Leinster House and the waste of taxpayers' money that goes with it...




If the cap fits . . .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Northsider
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:07 AM

Labhras is quite right in his response to Deputy Mitchell ! Nobody should be "politicising what is essentially a voluntary cultural movement"!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 05:22 AM

Deputy Mitchell welcomed the promised transparency for Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann accounts as they will soon have to be made publicly available but called for equal clarity from Government.
a reasonable statement from Mitchell
The comment of Labhras really takes the biscuit,considering this is what has happened in the past,under his leadership [re abortion referendum,and other examples mentioned earlier]


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: caitlin rua
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 06:42 AM

Yeah, I BET he says no one should look into "the voluntary sector". No telling what you might see.

The minute public money - our taxes - is paid out, accountability is justified. Not only justified but necessary. It's not "politicising". Of course he's going to whine about it and try to put a spin on it. He would, wouldn't he?

We're paying. We have the right to know. Why should it be exempt from due political process? What's he afraid of?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 18 Feb 09 - 11:25 AM

Anarchy?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM

Question: How does one pronounce the man's name?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Effsee
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 10:45 PM

...."Question: How does one pronounce the man's name? "...
Shithouse!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 11:07 AM

The senator speaks to Siobhan Long in today's Irish Times


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 01:05 PM

Mellow the moonshine to smell is beginning
Close by the window old Larry sits spinning...


Not a mention of the C-word, I notice. Amazing the way this interview manages to skate around the unpleasant issues, just as though they did not exist. Is there any hope of balancing out the one-sidedness of this conveniently-timed article?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 01:07 PM

For Ó Murchú, this is a positive innovation. "I love jazz and jazz musicians improvise in exactly the same way that traditional musicians do, with the grace notes.[quote]
he clearly does not know what he is talking about.
in Jazz thereare two forms of improvisation chordal and melodic,neither bears much resemblance to ornamentation used in irish trad.
perhaps very early trad jazz,used a similiar melodic variation,but even from 1920 onwards the improvisation was much more complex than irish traditional ornamentation.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Jazzy J
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 01:58 PM

'in Jazz thereare two forms of improvisation chordal and melodic'

Bilge!!!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 04:17 PM

Jazz Improvisation
Jazz Improvising - What is it?

Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes of a tune. The improviser may depend on the contours of the original tune, or solely on the possibilities of the chords' harmonies. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised. Composed music and improvised music may seem to be opposites, but in Jazz they merge in a unique mixture. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised. Composed music and improvised music may seem to be opposites, but in Jazz they merge in a unique mixture.
THE IMPROVISER MAY DEPEND ON THER CONTOURS OF THE ORIGINAL TUNE OR[please note] SOLELY ON THE POSSIBILTIES OF THE CHORDS HARMONIES.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: caitlin rua
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 04:30 PM

Take the jazz argument to another thread, you two. This issue is too important to get knocked off course by a squabble about a different art form.

I wonder if the Times has had any feedback from people about that interview?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: michaelr
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 06:32 PM

I ask again - because I may want to talk to folks about this issue - how is Labhras O Murchu pronounced?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Declan
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 09:22 PM

Michael

Low (rhymes with row as in argument)- raw - ss Oh murk-who, Approximate phonetics but close enough I think.

While I agree with a lot of the setiments expressed in the thread, I don't think personalising the issue as an attack on Labhrás is particularly helpful. Best to concentrate in ensuring the enquiry is presented with the facts, which I think speak for themselves.

The fact that there seems to be no mechanism for the removal of the chairman or the Ard Comhairle however the membership feel on the issue seems to be a flaw in the organisations constitution which the membership should be allowed to challenge and change. So is anyone going to propose the necessary rule changes at the next opportunity?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 03:51 AM

Superb post, Declan.


> . . . propose the necessary rule changes at the next opportunity

Which is in 2014. And don't miss the chance because it won't come again until 2020.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Jazzy J
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 12:16 PM

Vraiment, Caitlin Rua, mais c'est possible que le Capitaine n'ait pas entendu parler du modele de jazz 'free-form'!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Feb 09 - 03:20 PM

"Labhras O Murchu "
Laow (hence Chairman Lao) O Muruchu.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 07:29 AM

there is one other aspect of Comhaltas leadership that I would be critcal of,it is minor in comparison to the Clontarf problem.
it is this,the lack of discouragement of wig wearing, make up etc.
young girls of pre puberty age ,should not be allowed to do this in dance competitions.,[imo]this sort of thing is very unhealthy,and encourages paedophilia etc.,and has nothing to do with dancing.
the leadership should be concerning themselves with this and not allowing it .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 08:18 AM

Captain Birdseye,

I completely agree with you on the wigs and Irish dancing issue but that's nothing to do with Comhaltas, at least in our part of the world. Most Irish dancing schools don't even use live music, instead they use these hideous tapes and CDs and don't even encourage kids to listen to traditional music, much less play it. You might as well blame Comhaltas for the shitty weather we've been having.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 09 - 09:27 AM

Comhaltas, competitions do not forbid the use of wigs and make up.
They could lead by example,they are a national organisation,that is supposed to be promoting irish culture, dance and song .,not promoting young girls to dress in a manner that is unhealthy,and morally dubious.
if Comhaltas,set an example , independent Irish dancing schools,might realise they would be disqualified when they compete wearing wigs etc,and then discourage young girls from doing so .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 04:10 AM

I have always thought the standard dress (for female children) encouraged by CCE somewhat dubious and inappropriate, but having just returned from a trip to Dublin I also find it prohibitively priced - somewhat unfair on the less well off.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:10 AM

'Comhaltas, competitions do not forbid the use of wigs and make up.'

I'll have to make sure the adjudicators know that at the next regional fleadh. I think they're getting a bit bored with wearing cardigans.

Pethaps Comhaltas should set up independent Irish dancing schools. We could also arrange a ceasefire in Gaza, stop global warming and find a cure for cancer while we're at it.

Is there anything you think we should do after lunch?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:15 AM

As Chris B (Born Again Scouser) has already so eloquently stated "You might as well blame Comhaltas for the shitty weather we've been having." This is just another bit of dis-information so prevalent on this thread, most of which I ignore. However, in this case I have to say that Comhaltas DOES NOT DO step dancing competitions. I do support the sentiment though that whoever is responsible for these competitions should do away with the wigs and make up for young children. Not only does it look grotesque but, as has already been said here, borders on child abuse and could encourage paedophilia.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 05:28 AM

This is just another bit of dis-information so prevalent on this thread, most of which I ignore.
guest bemused,please give examples of dis information[you claim are prevalent] on this thread,or if you cannot,then go away .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 06:23 AM

Lads, whoa. I'm going to start another thread about making kids wear wigs and make-up in competitions. It's an excellent topic (and I agree with everybody's opinion of it) but let's please separate it from Comhaltas because they really are two different issues. This digression, however worthwhile, is only going to muddy the waters and obscure the other important matters - which really do need to be looked at and aired - off beam.

See you in my new thread in a minute, I hope . . .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:36 AM

Did anyone catch the Pat Kenny show in RTE this morning, the senator went head to head with Olivia Mitchell TD of Fine Gael about (the lack of) transparency of their finances.

I missed it unfortunately


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 07:53 AM

Assume you mean radio (nothing on TV) but according to the listings Pat Kenny's not on until 2:30 this afternoon. Do you mean Ryan Tubridy or Myles Dungan? I don't know whether RTE has a Listen-Again feature like the Beeb does, but I'm going to find out. Which actual programme was it? (Obviously I missed it too.)


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:11 AM

The Pat Kenny show is on at 10 AM on RTE1

programmes are archived here

I'll check out that archive later when I have a bit more time


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:14 AM

Fair enough! But the general listings page I looked at for today* said Myles Dungan. Wish they'd get their act together.

*
http://www.rte.ie/radio/listing.html?channel=110


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 08:18 AM

Programme podcast (which I would not have found without Peter's link) here, second item down:

feed://www.rte.ie/radio1/podcast/podcast_patkenny.xml


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:01 AM

thankyou,an interesting interview.I didnt think O Muruchu ,came across very favourably.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:02 AM

We're getting there :

the program segment is available here


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:09 AM

I didn't hear the Senator explain why the Clontarf branch had to be dissolved, why was this neccessary as they had returned the money in question to the Revenue Commissioners?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:11 AM

Funny, I didn't see anything about that in the recent Times interview either.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 09:16 AM

He puts forward the tax refund issue as reason for dissolving Cluan Tairbh again. And he makes it sound there were dodgy things going on as 'the money was already refunded to the main organisation'.

I thought the organisation (or one of their mouth pieces) had already denied the tax issue was the reason for the dissolution of the branch.

He doesn't come off well in the interview, that's for certain.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Feb 09 - 12:43 PM

I dislike politicians who interrupt,and shout down others while they are speaking,he was very rude.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,I hate Fish Fingers
Date: 25 Feb 09 - 06:54 PM

I dislike misinformed imbeciles. They also can be very rude.
I'm not defending CCE at all here, but I'm fed up of reading the same bile from the same individuals.

Captain Birdseye, can you please explain coherently (1 paragraph should suffice) why you think that Labhras O'Murchu should resign from Comhaltas?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 08:14 AM

my original post is a question .
at no point ,on this thread ,have I given my own opinion,on whether he should resign or not.
so guest Fish Fingers,I have no need to answer your question,so if you want to contribute to this thread ,state your own opinions,I suggest you Go back and re read all my posts.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 09:46 AM

I think "I Hate Fish Fingers" sums it up pretty well with his statement "I'm not defending CCE at all here, but I'm fed up of reading the same bile from the same individuals." Just two of the contributors to this thread (Captain Birdseye and Bonnie Shaljean) who take a strong anti-Labhrás line account for 31 of the 83 contributions (over 37%) so far - a bit incestuous don't you think!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Jim Martin
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 11:15 AM

It's a good job somebody is raising serious questions, not (IMO) bile!


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 01:21 PM

Incestuous? ,I am not related to Bonnie Shaljean,furthermore I havent seen her for years,neither am I related to Jim Carroll ,Ptarmigan ,Peter Laban , Caitlin Rua ,Fliss,Frank Flynn ,Diarmid , in fact I have never met any of them .


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 02:15 PM

Bemused - whoever you are - why don't you make a constructive useful comment to this thread instead of vague insinuations and insults? if you have a genuine point to make, MAKE IT. I think the way Clontarf has been treated is shameful, and I am by no means not the only one. Get off my back.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Bemused
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:03 PM

Bonnie, this is what you said in your post on the 20th February "Mellow the moonshine to smell is beginning
Close by the window old Larry sits spinning..." now that's what insinuations and insults really look like.

As for me I'd prefer to wait for the real facts to emerge on this whole Clontarf business before jumping to any conclusions.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 26 Feb 09 - 05:23 PM

Well don't be shy, Bemused - tell us. What are the "real facts"? You've played it pretty safe so far.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 04:24 AM

I think it's fair to say most of us here would welcome 'the real facts' and a solution to the problems in Clontarf, hence the calls for an independent review of those facts and a resulting independent binding arbitration.

Now, who was declining requests to resolve matters in this way again?

Transparency, accountability those are the keywords in this. And they are sorely lacking.


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: caitlin rua
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 04:45 AM

"Wait for the real facts to emerge"?

If they haven't emerged, WHY HAVEN'T THEY? And how do you come to know about them?


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 12:58 PM

A little bit bulky, but the facts as I see them.


The Phoenix December 6th 2002

LABHRÁS Ó MURCHÚ
Pillars of Society

IT IS not often that the subject of traditional Irish music and dancing achieves more than a passing reference in the Dublin media but the debate on the current Arts Bill - focusing on the creation of a standing committee outside the Arts Council with funding power - has generated plenty of column inches and dominated large swathes of The Irish Times letters page. At the heart of this debate is Senator Labhras Ó Murchú, the all-powerful director general of the traditional music body, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann (CCE). If the Bill is passed in its current format, Ó Murchú will have not only achieved a notable victory over his old enemies on the Arts Council but will also be in a position to tap into a new source of public funding. Not many are betting against him at this stage given his good relationship with Minister for the Arts, John O'Donoghue.

Section 21 of the Arts Bill 2002 states that the Arts Council "shall establish three standing committees of which one shall assist and advise on matters relating to traditional arts". In each case the Minister will appoint the chair and two members of the five-member committee but alone of the three committees, the one dealing with the traditional Irish arts "shall make recommendations to the Council in relation to the advance of to any person relating to traditional Irish arts".

The apoplexy at Merrion Square over this inclusion in the Bill is hard to overestimate. For the first time, it is proposed that the power to allocate funding is taken out of the hands of the Council and the question is, if such a committee can do this work, why have an Arts Council at all? Why not just have six or ten standing committees? Given his frosty relationship with the Council, Labhras Ó Murchú will be enjoying the discomfort on Merrion Square.

THE SPLIT
Meanwhile, the battle of the Arts Bill began in earnest last week when the select committee chaired by Cecelia Keaveney   received submissions from various interested parties, including CCE. The only issue on the agenda was Section 21 and the level   of   division within the arts community was clearly evident.   Letters to   The Irish   Times   in recent weeks have also highlighted the split with Arts Council clients such as the Contemporary Music Centre and the Willie Clancy Summer School expressing    their opposition to the proposal. Even the Arts Council itself stepped into the fray when Dermot McLaughlin questioned CCE's need for funding from Merrion Square.

Meanwhile, Ó Murchú and his organisation have been lobbying TDs and senators directly with deputies receiving a letter referring to "a covert campaign launched against the provisions of the Bill that favour the traditional arts". This is actually looking like a rather even battle. While the Arts Council has a lot of muscle courtesy of its €44 million in EU annual funding and the powers of patronage this carries, CCE is a very large organisation and in Ó Murchú it has a man on the inside. Indeed, with his wife, Una Ó Murchú - the director of the Brú Ború traditional music centre in Cashel - now sitting on the Arts Council herself, it could be argued that CCE has a presence on both sides of this particular fence .

What is most remarkable about the manner in which Ó Murchú got the standing committee on traditional arts inserted into the Bill - and there is no argument that he is the man responsible - is that this was thought to be dead and buried. The Comhaltas supremo had originally floated the idea of a sort of separate Traditional Arts Council in a report for the Joint Committee on Heritage and the Irish Language which he had prepared as its rapporteur. This controversial report - the first ever on traditional Irish music - was passed by the committee only to run into serious flak when it emerged that apart from CCÉ, no other body was mentioned by Ó Murchú. The Arts Council was particularly animated over the recommendation for an outside body to promote the traditional arts.

In an unprecedented move, the Oireachtas Committee was forced to request submissions from outside on the report (described in the CCÉ newsletter, Treoir, as "comprehensive") after it had been published and the document subsequently gathered dust. The Merrion Square Mafia breathed a sigh of relief only for the issue to arise again in 2001 when the Department of Arts sought submissions on Síle Dev's proposed new Arts legislation.

The vast bulk of these submissions concerned the traditional arts but Theo Dorgan - who was brought in by the Minister to analyse the various submissions - noted that the arguments in favour of the traditional arts council "can be considered a single point of view expressed by a multitude of people acting in concert" (ie, a CCE campaign). More interestingly, the Department of the Taoiseach stated that such a body would be "deeply regressive" and would "both ghettoise and patronise practitioners" (see The Phoenix 16/3/01).

So that was that? Not quite. When the new Arts Bill was drafted, the Arts Council's worst fears were realised. A committee with funding powers for the traditional arts had suddenly materialised, controlled not by Merrion Square but by Ministerial appointees. Patricia Quinn et al viewed this a way for CCE to get on the arts funding gravy train to complement its income from the Department of Gaeltacht, which is supposed to be ring-fenced for promoting the Irish language.

This year CCE got €500,000 from this source 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.

FUNDING
However, relations with Merrion Square are very poor and CCÉ has never been able to get funding from the Arts Council. Not surprisingly perhaps, Comhaltas did bung in a couple of unsuccessful applications (for around €300,000) in 1998 and 1999 - immediately after Una Ó Murchú was appointed to the Council by Síle Dev.

This week the Arts Council will be the last body to address the select committee on the Arts Bill and it will have to be an impressive performance. As it stands, the word is that Senator Ó Murchú has edged ahead and his access to John O'Donoghue gives him further leverage in the coming months, with the Bill due to be finally passed by March.

Ó Murchú (born Larry Murphy in 1939, he changed his name by deed poll in the 1950s) is not the typical Fianna Failer although to Dublin 4 he represents all that is awful about the Soldiers of Destiny, with his CCE organisation and its gaelgeoirí jigging and reeling at the crossroads perceived as a glorified Fianna Fail network. However, within the party, Ó Murchú is viewed with suspicion and certainly he was nowhere to be seen on the favoured list of Seanad candidates circulated by Ray MacSharry's committee before the recent election. Along with the likes of Paschal Mooney, Dan Kiely and Camillus Glynn, Ó Murchú and the so-called old guard were earmarked for the chop by FF HQ.

Things didn't work out that way, however, and the CCE supremo was re-elected onto the Cultural and Educational Panel on the 14th count - ahead of Brian Hayes, Noel Coonan and Ann Ormonde. Indeed the poll topper on that panel - Paschal Mooney - and
Ó Murchú were not even nominated by FF. Mooney's name was put forward by the Association of Libraries while Ó Murchú was the not so surprising choice of CCE.

Since the election, Ó Murchú has been made spokesman on Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and added to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Sport and Tourism, the Seanad Committee on Procedure and Privilege as well as the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. While he is best known for his obsession with Irish traditional arts, the Cashel senator has spoken out on a range of contentious issues, most recently the Colombia Three. He is also centrally involved with the creation of a new body, the Irish Rural Dwellers Association, set up last month to take on the likes of Michael Smith's An Taisce and help push for a more populated countryside (ie, one-off housing).

In his time Ó Murchú has also called for support for the likes of Michelle de Brúin -"one of our national treasures" - and Roisin McAliskey. He also spends his time denouncing the likes of comedian Tommy Tiernan for "blasphemy" (after a Late Late Show performance) and complaining about the McDonald's restaurant chain's "insult" to the memory of Peig Sayers in a TV advert a couple of years ago: "I can only suggest that it is the product of a sick mind. No right-thinking Irish person should accept it".

But above all else, Labhras Ó Murchú uses the Seanad to push forward CCE policies. CCE is his bread and butter and he is the permanent (since 1968) full-time director general of the organisation. As top dog and plenipotentiary, there are few figures who hold such power in any organisation. Not only does Ó Murchú hold the post of director general until whenever he decides to call it a day but he is also the CCE spokesman on everything, the editor of its quarterly journal, Treoir, and one of the three permanent trustees in whom CCE's various properties are vested, including the very valuable and impressive headquarters on Belgrave Square in Monkstown. In the past, the senator has also held the elected post of President General of CCE.

PROFITS OF €1.5 MILLION
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 right-hand man in Comhaltas is Seamus Mac Mathuna - hubby of anti-abortion firebrand, Una, and father of Youth Defence's Niamh Nic Mhatuna. The director general himself is also an outspoken anti-abortionist, both in the Seanad and in the pages of Treoir.

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.

This deal suggests that it is very foolish to underestimate Ó Murchú's ability to get what he wants. He has the ear of the Minister and a formidable public relations machine going head to head with the Arts Council, which has everything to lose. With John O'Donoghue also on side, the senator is already preparing to draw up his list of nominees for the standing committee that will examine his inevitable funding application. What all this could mean for the future of the slimmed down Arts Council is, however, far from clear.

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 09 - 01:00 PM

Or some of them!!!!
Jim Carroll


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