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We are all interconnected - Galway tech company aids in Sandy communications and the peace poppy for Remembrance Day

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There was a heartening buzz in Galway City over the weekend and since as skilled  professionals over here joined with colleagues  along your East Coast to assist the recovery effort in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Volunteers joined with hi-tech communications specialists from the Disaster Tech Lab, which has offices in Galway, to man a so-called CrisisCamp in aid of storm victims in New York  and elsewhere.

Evert Bopp, founder of the Disaster Tech Lab, explained that the CrisisCamp in Galway City  was working through video-conferencing and Skype with agencies in the disaster area to help harmonize and speed up all elements of the recovery operation.

The company, through previous work in Haiti after the earthquake there, has considerable expertise in coping with the aftermaths of disasters, and its team has been working around the clock. We indeed live in a global village nowadays.

As the whole world has cruelly learned since Sandy struck, the inevitable power outages in the modern world impact dreadfully on the communications technology of the heroic first  responders and power workers.

We learned here that badly stricken areas of New York, for example, did not manage to receive outside aid quickly enough because, it seems, communications were a first casualty of the outages and flooding.

It is poignant that so many of the first responders were putting their lives on the line in rescue missions around the East Coast area while their own homes were being flooded or destroyed.

It is heartwarming that a Galway-based company, on this side of the Atlantic, has been in a position to be hugely helpful in the cleanup.

As I understand it, the Galway hi-tech company operating the CrisisCamp has developed leading edge online mapping systems which can pinpoint the precise location and extent of power outages in areas like Staten Island and Hoboken and elsewhere.

Not alone that precious tool for rescuers, but the company has been able to transmit equally valuable information about the location of WiFi locations along the East Coast where those worried about family members, for example, can charge up their cell phones and tablets and re-establish contact with both loved ones and the rescue agencies they need.

The ongoing operation at the CrisisCamp in the City of the Tribes is a real Irish contribution to the caring-and-sharing cloak of world compassion around your tragedy. You are not alone.

Unconnected altogether but equally heartening in this homeland of our hard history was something that happened in Dail Eireann, our Parliament. It was Remembrance Sunday last weekend, and the symbol of the dreadful events  of the World Wars, with all that slaughter, has been the poppy flower worn on every breast in England, Wales, and Scotland.

And also by the Unionist population of Northern Ireland, which lost so many soldiers during those wars. The Nationalist people of the North, given their history and position, could never wear a poppy.
Similarly they were never worn in the Republic except by a tiny minority of citizens.  And all emblems of that nature were always  banned from Leinster House where our Parliament is housed.

Until last week. The politician who  led the poppy revolution hails from Roscommon, is called Frank Feighan, calls a spade a spade, and is the chairman of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly.
Times have changed, said Frank, and he wore  his poppy of peace into the Dail to mark the new era.

And other members of the House were pleased to join him!

It's a cruel world, as ye learned so sharply in recent times, but there are brighter corners too. I hope the overwhelming majority of you, despite everything, have found that to be true this week.

Good luck and God bless.

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