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Battle of Clontarf-round two/Comhaltas Interruptus

Related threads:
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comhaltas examinations [discussamicably] (27)
Should O Murchu resign from Comhaltas? (93)
comhaltas fireside sessions (2)
Review: Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann in Shanghai (1)
Comhaltas -North American org, for Irish music (5)


Jim Carroll 15 Mar 08 - 01:26 PM
Shaneo 15 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 15 Mar 08 - 01:50 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Mar 08 - 06:02 PM
Declan 15 Mar 08 - 09:18 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 08 - 04:30 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Mar 08 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Jim Martin 16 Mar 08 - 08:36 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 16 Mar 08 - 09:37 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 08 - 02:23 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Mar 08 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 20 Mar 08 - 10:01 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 21 Mar 08 - 06:10 AM
redsnapper 21 Mar 08 - 07:14 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 11:52 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 08 - 12:02 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 21 Mar 08 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,guest maggie boyle 21 Mar 08 - 08:55 PM
GUEST,Jim Martin 21 Mar 08 - 11:23 PM
Gulliver 22 Mar 08 - 12:40 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 04:33 AM
Folkiedave 22 Mar 08 - 05:37 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 22 Mar 08 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Learaí na Láibe 22 Mar 08 - 08:44 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 22 Mar 08 - 10:40 AM
Big Mick 22 Mar 08 - 10:58 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 02:20 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 08 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,the button 22 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM
Big Mick 22 Mar 08 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,redsnapper 22 Mar 08 - 05:26 PM
Barry Finn 22 Mar 08 - 10:47 PM
GUEST,doc.tom 23 Mar 08 - 07:29 AM
MARINER 24 Mar 08 - 06:16 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 08 - 03:12 AM
Barry Finn 25 Mar 08 - 03:29 AM
Richard Bridge 25 Mar 08 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 25 Mar 08 - 07:52 AM
Bryn Pugh 25 Mar 08 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,aine in dublin 25 Mar 08 - 12:25 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 12:36 PM
Barry Finn 25 Mar 08 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,Highkingoftara 25 Mar 08 - 12:57 PM
Big Mick 25 Mar 08 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Don Meade 25 Mar 08 - 01:55 PM
the button 25 Mar 08 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Concerned tina 25 Mar 08 - 02:02 PM
Breandán 25 Mar 08 - 02:22 PM
ard mhacha 25 Mar 08 - 02:28 PM
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Subject: Battle of Clontarf - round two
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Mar 08 - 01:26 PM

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

Jim Carroll.

€11,000,000 or $11,000,000?


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

RS


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Dave


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

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

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


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

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

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

Slán

Learaí na Láibe


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

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


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

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

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

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

To whomever perpetrated this I can only say,

Clúid ar do phoil ,

Mick


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

All the best,

Mick


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

Perhaps a breakaway faction is now in order?

RS


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

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

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


Barry


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Barry


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

After an uproar it was quietly shelved.

We must keep publicity about this injustice to the forefront.


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

Jim,

I have no brief for bullying of any kind.

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

Slan leat, Bryn


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Barry


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

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


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

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

All the best,

Mick


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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