Tommy McKearney did not upload his details to the Wikipedia website and points out that there are several inaccuracies contained on that page. He suggest that readers take a look at the view taken by the Financial Times on Saturday 14 February 2009 (reprinted below) in relation to details contained on Wikipedia

Wisdom of nerds
Published: February 14 2009 02:00

Never a man overburdened by modesty, during his stay in Davos, Gordon Brown compared himself to Titian, the Venetian painter, when he was 90 years old. The parallel? By that age, the 16th-century master was long-established, but felt he was still learning his craft. David Cameron, the Conservative leader, tried to score a cheap point this week by claiming Mr Brown might have been like Titian at 90 - but the maestro had died at the age of 86.

All we know with certainty is that Titian died in 1576. His birth date is unknown. He may have been over, or under, 90 years old when he finally kicked the paint can. But one of Mr Cameron's apparatchiks decided to settle the argument. He went to Wikipedia - the online encyclopedia that anyone can alter - and edited Titian's vital statistics. Rather than changing his date of birth - the contentious issue - he killed him off a few years early - before he painted a final dramatic Pieta , in fact. Be thankful the virtual airbrusher did not try to claim an endorsement to boot.

Many, including Tories, have enthused about Wikipedia in the past - and not just for its convenience in correcting history's little mistakes. So long as readers are aware of Wikipedia's limitations, it is a useful tool. There is certainly no better place to find lists of Jedi Knights, once among the site's longest and most tedious entries.

The real problem is far broader. Wiki-enthusiasts cite the "wisdom of crowds" as a reason for the accuracy of the encyclopedia. They claim that, just as a market finds prices for goods based on our differing opinions of what they are worth, so a crowd can establish what truth is. But whereas prices are reliant on opinions and values, facts are either true or false.
Any attempt to turn mob opinion into the test for truth is pernicious. That a thought might be popularly believed does not make it true. The earth did not stand still because Galileo fell out of favour, and evolution has not been disproved by the faith of believers. The wisdom of crowds can only be conventional.

Published: February 14 2009 02:00. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

For the good of the party

Gerry may go …. for the good of the party


The harsh logic of pragmatic political calculation may lead to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams stepping down from his position sooner rather than in 2016 as predicted by many commentators. While the media storm surrounding BBC documentary The Disappeared and fall-out resulting from Liam Adam’s conviction have discomfited Mr. Adams, these events alone will not cause his resignation. However, expectation and anticipation within the party as it prepares for the next general election in the Republic may be a different matter.

With February 2016 as the last possible date for a general election, there will be a new Dail before the Easter Rising’s centenary celebrations. Sinn Fein is practically assured of significantly improving on its current 14 seats but has little chance of winning an overall majority. Since no other party is likely to do so either, the next government will also be a coalition, forcing Sinn Fein to make some hardheaded assessments.

Short of a sudden and unexpected improvement to the economy, the current coalition partners will not secure sufficient support between them to form another administration. This means that the next government in the Republic will be composed of two or more from among, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, the Labour Party and/or a number of independent TDs. Therefore, no matter how the political deck is shuffled, Sinn Fein will be needed to form a majority unless that is; Fine Gael and Fianna Fail agree to pair off.

There is a problem for Sinn Fein in this and that is its president. No other party and especially Fianna Fail can afford to have Gerry Adams sitting on the government front bench as Tánaiste. The reason is not because of the difficulties surrounding the McConville or Liam Adams cases (that is already discounted) but for two other reasons.

First, there is a real fear among other political parties that some new nasty ‘Gerry-related’ story may present itself unexpectedly, and after his 50 years in radical politics, that cannot be ruled out. The membership of Fianna fall and Labour would not be prepared to stoically endure the bemused scorn of the mass media dealing with difficult to accept denials. Another, and probably even more profound difficulty for a Fianna Fail Taoiseach would be the simple fact that sharing the front bench with Gerry Adams would lead to him being entirely eclipsed by the Sinn Fein president. Micheal Martin cannot afford, nor would his party tolerate, the general public and international media asking who is that man with a receding hairline sitting beside Gerry Adams?

Unlike Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail has the political option of entering coalition with Fine Gael. The two parties are compatible, having almost identical economic and social policies. Moreover, the idea of working together has recently been mooted by senior members of both organisations. Old Civil War animosities have dissipated over the years and would dissolve amidst widespread rejoicing over ‘a long overdue reconciliation’.

Sinn Fein has now to decide whether it wishes to participate in the next government or remain on the opposition benches. Does it wish to have its party leader stand and accept the salute beside the Taoiseach on the reviewing stand before the GPO on Easter Sunday 2016 or watch on from a much less prominent position? If the young, capable, not to mention ambitious Sinn Fein TDs want to be in Cabinet in the next Dail and reap the additional benefit of Centenary celebrations, they must decide soon on who leads the party into the next election. No political party can change management in the run up to such a major challenge. It takes time for a new leader to establish his or her authority and time will also be required to heal wounds that inevitably follow a leadership contest.

Pressure from a younger generation of potential leaders recently caused Gerry Adams to make a dramatic U-turn on his personal position in relation to the Senate referendum. A similar strike could force him to accept the inevitable and stand aside in the interests of the party and logic would dictate that this must be sooner rather than later.

Tommy McKearney













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