News item #1 --
European Commission proposals to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions and boost the use of renewable energy among member states raise "very serious economic and social issues for Ireland", the Government has said. The Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security said today the climate change strategy, which seeks to cut emissions across the union by one fifth by 2020, must take into account the "national circumstances and competitiveness impacts".
News item #2 --
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern is expected to pay an official visit to the world's youngest nation, Timor Leste, next month.
The country, which was previously known as East Timor, won independence in 2002 after more than 400 years of occupation by Portugal and Indonesia. Timor Leste will receive five million euro in Irish Aid funding this year.
Leaving aside the environmental cost of getting Dermot Ahern and his hangers-on to East Timor, the actual cost will be pretty significant set against what is a small overall aid budget for that country. And this comes on the heels of junior Minister Michael Ahern (no relation to Dermot or Bertie) junketing for a week in New Zealand on the basis of Edmund Hillary's one-day funeral. Since he's already in the neighhourhood, by Southern Hemisphere standards, why doesn't he go and check on the East Timor program and report back to the foreign minister?
UPDATE 11 FEB: Given recent events in East Timor, one assumes that Dermot Ahern's visit will have to be postponed. It'll be interesting to see whether another bit of southern hemisphere/East Asian business magically appears on his itinerary.
FINAL UPDATE: Ahern's visit, scheduled for Feb 20-22, is "under review".