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Britain leaving the EU is a tragedy, says Ireland’s deputy prime minister

Ireland will not be following Britain’s lead and leaving the European Union next year, said its deputy prime minister, who described the United Kingdom’s decision to leave as a ‘tragedy’.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney spoke passionately about Ireland's position on Brexit. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Tánaiste Simon Coveney spoke passionately about Ireland’s position on Brexit. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

The threat to the Good Friday Peace Agreement, coupled with the economic chaos that leaving the EU would bring, were the two biggest reasons for Ireland to stand firm on the difficult Brexit negotiations currently being undertaken by the British government, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who also has special responsibility for the Brexit negotiations, told FCC members at the March 12 club lunch.

A month ahead of the 20th anniversary of the historic peace agreement, which brought about an end to decades of violence between Catholic and Protestant groups by introducing a devolved government of eight political parties and cross-border co-operation between the governments of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Coveney said the most clear manifestation of that peace process in terms of success “has been the fact that the border on the island of Ireland has become invisible: there is no physical infrastructure any more on that border”.

Leaving the European Union could mean the return of a hard border. Although the British government is trying to strike a divorce deal that would avoid a hard border, a solution agreed by all parties is yet to materialise.

“The British government has agreed to facilitate that but they just don’t know how yet. And I don’t mean that in any kind of a facetious or patronising way. It’s very difficult to come up with an agreed political solution to prevent border infrastructure re-emerging in the island of Ireland if the British government strategy remains as it is today which is that Britain is not only going to leave the European Union and its institutions but is also determined to leave the single market and the customs union as well,” he said.

Coveney said that having lived in Britain for four years, he understood why people voted for Brexit in 2016. “There are many people in England in particular who feel that the European Union was compromising British sovereignty, and their view was and is that Britain can be stronger and more effective and more successful without being part of the European Union institution. And let’s wait and see how that works out,” he said.

But he added that the decision has huge implications for the island of Ireland. “We have a €65billion trade relationship east/west between Britain and Ireland; 38,000 companies in Ireland trade with Britain every month – that’s 200,000 jobs, it’s 10% of the Irish workforce. And the numbers are the same on the other side of the Irish sea in Britain.”

Set against the backdrop of growing political instability within Ireland due to rising frictions between Unionists and Nationalists, an exit from Europe would also threaten the communities and businesses that have built trust since the peace agreement which has allowed the economy to flourish.

He said: “And this is the core problem of Brexit: it fundamentally raises identity issues in Northern Ireland between Nationalists and Unionists and we have spent the last 20 years trying to break down those identity barriers successfully – part of which was the removal of any type of border infrastructure.

“But let me be very clear on this: Ireland is not following the lead of Britain here. We will not be leaving the European Union. We do not think it’s a good idea to go it alone.

“We believe that in the modern world, the way to get things done is in a multi-lateral setting…. For me that is why the British decision is such a tragedy because Britain is one of the great countries of the world and it is deciding to go it alone when actually most of the great problems that we face globally right now can only be solved together through alliances rather than countries in a nationalist way looking to go it alone,” Coveney added.

Coveney was in Hong Kong on his way to China. He talked about Ireland’s long-standing relationship with Hong Kong, noting that nine of its 28 governors had Irish connections. Coveney also praised the introduction of the first direct flight between Dublin and Hong Kong – a first for Asia – which Cathay Pacific launches in June this year. Coveney said he hoped it would mean an additional 60,000 visitors per year to Ireland which would have a strong impact on the economy.

On China, Coveney said that, 40 years since the opening of diplomatic relations, the two countries’ economic ties had never been better. In 2016 total trade between China and Ireland was €13 billion, and is expected to be well above €14 billion in 2017.

“I believe that our people share many characteristics,” Coveney said of the Irish and Chinese, “not least strong attachment to family, unique cultural heritage, and some difficult historical experiences. Our economies have undergone rapid transition.”

Coveney also pledge support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying he admired its ambition and openness.

New book on police inspector’s controversial death exposes abuse of young boys by Hong Kong establishment

The sexual exploitation of underage boys by prominent figures in Hong Kong during the late 1970s and into the Eighties was covered up, according to a new book which examines the death of a city police inspector.

Author Nigel Collett's book exposes the sexual exploitation of underage boys by prominent figures in Hong Kong during the late 1970s and into the Eighties. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Author Nigel Collett’s book exposes the sexual exploitation of underage boys by prominent figures in Hong Kong during the late 1970s and into the Eighties. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Painstakingly researched by former British Army Lieutenant-Colonel Nigel Collett, the book A Death in Hong Kong: The Suppression of a Scandal, centres around the suicide in 1980 of 29-year-old Inspector John MacLennan, a gay Scottish police officer who was about to be arrested on charges of gross indecency with male prostitutes. His body was discovered in his locked flat – he had been shot five times in the chest. A suicide note, and the fact that the two doors into his flat were locked from the inside, led police to assume suicide, although others suspected foul play.

MacLennan had been targeted, the book claims, as part of a crackdown on homosexuality – then illegal in Hong Kong – among the judiciary and government following the jailing of a top lawyer for having sex with underage boys. John Richard Duffy, in a bid to reduce his sentence, had provided several lists of names to the police of members of the establishment to whom he was supplying teenage boys. So long was the list that the Royal Hong Kong Police set up the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).

Additionally, MacLennan had said he had seen the name of the future Commissioner of Police, Roy Henry, on a Special Branch list of suspected homosexuals.

“MacLennan was bisexual and not a paedophile, but he was a casualty in a phoney war being conducted by the SIU on the part of the Hong Kong government, a war supposedly being waged against named paedophiles and homosexuals in the Hong Kong establishment, but which was actually a smoke screen for hiding the scandal of their activities,” Collett told the March 8 club lunch.

The book pieces together the information Duffy gave to the police and, although it stops short of naming all on the lists – none of which included MacLennan – it provides a startling picture of the abuse of young boys by the very people society holds up as examples of those we should trust.

Among those named were the then Chief Justice Sir Geoffrey Briggs; his successor, Sir Denys Roberts; the then Commissioner of Police, Brian Slevin; his successor, Roy Henry; Chief Superintendent Ron Redpath; and the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Neil MacDougall. Others, who remain unnamed, include lawyers, businessmen, publishers and doctors.

The outcry and suspicion surrounding MacLennan’s death led to a public inquiry – the most expensive in Hong Kong history – which called 110 witnesses from pimps and prostitutes to the city’s most celebrated. After seven months, the commission, headed by Justice TL Yang, found that MacLennan had committed suicide. No police officer or official was prosecuted for any part in the case.

Collett said the case “casts light on the old British habit of appointing a commission of inquiry with the aim, not so much to uncover the truth of an issue, but rather to provide the public an explanation of an issue in order to bury it”.

“The MacLennan inquiry was set up to deflect public anger and to ensure that detail of the Duffy allegations never saw the light of day,” Collett said.

The Q&A session following Collett’s talk was equally compelling, with further insights offered by retired police officers attending the club lunch, prompting the author to say he would like to include additional accounts in a second edition of the book.

More than three quarters of female Chinese journalists sexually harassed, report finds

China’s media industry must do more to combat sexual harassment, according to a report that found that more than three-quarters of female journalists surveyed had been subjected to unwanted advances in the course of their work.

The #MeToo campaign in China. Photo: Handout The #MeToo campaign in China. Photo: Handout

The online survey, A Report on Workplace Sexual Harassment of Chinese Female Journalists, comes in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which saw the Hollywood producer accused of multiple sexual assaults, and spawned the global #MeToo movement.

Of the 83.7% of respondents who said they had been sexually harassed, more than half remained silent after the harassment, and only 3.2% reported their experience to their company’s HR department. Even fewer – just 0.6% – reported the harassment to police. Some reported suffering from mental distress and depression as a result of harassment, with a small number admitting suicidal tendencies.

The survey, by the Guangzhou Gender and Sexual Education Center, also found:

  • Almost half of the 83.7% subjected to sexual harassment had encountered it 2-4 times
  • 18.2% suffered harassment more than 5 times
  • Nine out of 10 of the perpetrators were male; among them 40.9% of offenders were the victims’ authoritative leaders; 30% were colleagues; and 37% were strangers
  • 43.8% of harassment occurred in public spaces including offices, conference rooms, and toilets
  • 37.7% occurred in private places such as personal offices, family rooms and hotels
  • 31.6% of respondents had received emails, calls, sexual jokes and obscene pictures and videos

Launching the report at the FCC on March 7, Wei Tingting, Executive Director of the centre; and reporter Sophina Huang Xueqin; urged Chinese media companies to introduce measures to stamp out harassment in the workplace.

Wei Tingting, Executive Director of Guangzhou Gender and Sexual Education Center, speaks at the FCC. Photo: FCC Wei Tingting, Executive Director of Guangzhou Gender and Sexual Education Center, speaks at the FCC. Photo: FCC

“Newsrooms and media companies should take the lead in establishing workplace anti-sexual harassment mechanisms which include prevention and education, investigation after the complaint, confidential counselling, punishment of the sexual offender, set up related departments, and introduce workplace anti-sexual harassment regulations that should be issued to all staff members,” said Wei Tingting.

Since the Weinstein scandal broke, allegations of sexual harassment have spread to almost every profession. In the media, The Washington Post, CBS News, NPR and NBC are just a handful of companies now dealing with sexual harassment claims. According to research published last November from the Center for American Progress, sexual harassment occurs across all industries.

“Sexual harassment is a persistent problem in the workplace and one that affects people across industries and at every level,” the report said.

Chart by Center for American Progress Chart by Center for American Progress

Female Chinese journalists were surveyed over a period of a month with 416 valid samples being taken from 1,762 responses from 15 provinces in China, including Guangdong, Beijing, Shanghai, Hubei, Zhejiang, Shandong and Sichuan.

For 61.4% of the victims surveyed, sexual harassment caused a decline in their self-esteem and confidence. Among the 176 victims who encountered sexual harassment 2-4 times, 44 of them said the encounters brought severe impact on their personal relationships and social lives, 22 of them resigned or changed their jobs, 29 of the victims suffer from mental distress and depression, and 10 of them admitted self-harm and suicidal tendencies.

Beijing’s curbs on political rights in Hong Kong while ensuring rule of law for business is ‘unsustainable’, says top barrister

Beijing’s move to curb Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms while still trying to maintain confidence among businesses is unsustainable, according to Hong Kong’s top barrister.

Philip Dykes, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, gave a talk on the rule of law. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC Philip Dykes, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, gave a talk on the rule of law. Photo: Sarah Graham/FCC

Philip Dykes, chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, also said he could not rule out a further interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC), which he described as “the greatest threat to the rule of law in Hong Kong”.

Speaking at the March 5 club lunch, the newly-elected head of the Bar Association told members that he believed Hong Kong’s judges to be independent and could be relied upon to uphold the rule of law for years to come. But he called on “other decision makers in government – the administrators and the lawmakers” to be “ guided by the rule of law and realise that there are no preferred outcomes of judges and they should not be pressured into making decisions one way or the other”. Dykes was referring to the furore surrounding the long and drawn out legal process involving pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Alex Chow Yong-kang.

In a Q&A session, Financial Times reporter Ben Bland asked Dykes whether Beijing’s move to heavily circumscribe Hong Kong’s political rights while maintaining confidence among businesses was sustainable, the barrister said: “Ultimately you can’t have one without the other. You can’t hold yourself out as being a system that subscribes to the rule of law and are particularly good at dealing with commercial and arbitration matters but not also accept the burdens that go with that which are dealing with the nitty gritty of political problems, protests, freedom of expression. You will be found out. It’s unsustainable.”

Dykes was also asked about Chinese president Xi Jinping’s move to consolidate his power by indefinitely extending his term as leader, days before the NPCSC is due to vote on it. Dykes said extended terms of power brought about by a change to the constitution “don’t usually end well” but would not be drawn on whether the move would affect Hong Kong’s rule of law.

On the matter of Beijing’s 2016 interpretation of the Basic Law in the case of the oath takers disqualified for not pledging allegiance to China, Dykes said he could not rule out future interventions by the Chinese government, particularly regarding the election eligibility of pro-democracy candidates. “One can easily foresee this bubbling up to become a legal issue,” he said.

It’s here – the world-famous Beyond Burger is now available at the FCC!

It’s the burger everyone’s talking about, and we’re now serving it at the FCC.

The FCC's Beyond Burger. Photo: carstenschael.com The FCC’s Beyond Burger. Photo: carstenschael.com

Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike can now enjoy the Beyond Burger™, the world’s first plant-based burger that looks and tastes like a fresh beef burger. Packed with 20g of plant-based protein and with no GMOs, soy or gluten, this vegan burger is as similar to meat as you can get without being meat. And with added beetroot to give it beef colour, and even a bleeding effect, any meat lover will be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

Anna Healy Fenton, F&B Committee convenor, said: “Whether you’re a die hard vegan, a dairy eating lacto-vegetarian or omnivorous, there’s a version for you. Choose between cheese toppings, creamy mushroom sauce, even special vegan buns.”

So waste no more time – come down and try the burger that’s shaking up the food industry.

Dining Room – Extension of Opening Hours ON SUNDAYS

 

Dining Room – Extension of Opening Hours
ON SUNDAYS
Dear members,
With effect from 25 February 2018, FCC Dining Room will extend its opening hour on Sundays as follow:
  • Babies and infants, children under 12 are allowed in the Dining Room on Sundays.
  • Bookings for lunch or dinner are advised.
  • Tables will be held for 10 minutes after booking time.
  • 12 persons is the maximum number of people permitted at a table.
  • Dress code will be the same as ground floor Lounge: Casual, which means wearing short, a T-shirt or beach footwear is allowed.
  • For more information about the booking policy and dress code, please visit http://www.fcchk.org/club-rules/ for further details.
  • Table reservations, please contact our restaurant directly at 2523 7734 or email to [email protected].
FCC Admin Office

 

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