Council of Europe

The Council of Europe is an international organisation whose stated aim is to uphold human rights and the rule of law in Europe. Founded in 1949, it has 47 member states, with a population of 820 million, operates with an annual budget of 500 million euros; the organisation is distinct from the 27-nation European Union, although it is sometimes confused with it because the EU has adopted the original European Flag, created by the Council of Europe in 1955, as well as the European Anthem. No country has joined the EU without first belonging to the Council of Europe; the Council of Europe is an official United Nations Observer. Unlike the EU, the Council of Europe cannot make binding laws, but it does have the power to enforce select international agreements reached by European states on various topics; the best known body of the Council of Europe is the European Court of Human Rights, which enforces the European Convention on Human Rights. The Council's two statutory bodies are the Committee of Ministers, comprising the foreign ministers of each member state, the Parliamentary Assembly, composed of members of the national parliaments of each member state.

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe, mandated to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the member states. The Secretary General heads the secretariat of the organisation. Other major CoE bodies include the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and the European Audiovisual Observatory; the headquarters of the Council of Europe are in France. English and French are its two official languages; the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress use German and Russian for some of their work. In a speech in 1929, French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand floated the idea of an organisation which would gather European nations together in a "federal union" to resolve common problems, but it was Britain's wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill who first publicly suggested the creation of "a Council of Europe" in a BBC radio broadcast on 21 March 1943, while the second world war was still raging. In his own words, he tried to "peer through the mists of the future to the end of the war," once victory had been achieved, think about how to re-build and maintain peace on a shattered continent.

Given that Europe had been at the origin of two world wars, the creation of such a body would be, he suggested, "a stupendous business". He returned to the idea during a well-known speech at the University of Zurich on 19 September 1946, throwing the full weight of his considerable post-war prestige behind it; the future structure of the Council of Europe was discussed at a specific congress of several hundred leading politicians, government representatives and civil society in The Hague, Netherlands, in 1948. There were two schools of thought competing: some favoured a classical international organisation with representatives of governments, while others preferred a political forum with parliamentarians. Both approaches were combined through the creation of a Committee of Ministers and a Consultative Assembly, the two main bodies mentioned in the Statute of the Council of Europe; this dual intergovernmental and inter-parliamentary structure was copied for the European Communities, North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The Council of Europe was founded on 5 May 1949 by the Treaty of London. The Statute was signed in London on that day by ten states: Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, though Turkey and Greece joined three months later. On 10 August 1949, 100 members of the Council's Consultative Assembly, parliamentarians drawn from the twelve member nations, met in Strasbourg for its first plenary session, held over 18 sittings and lasting nearly a month, they debated how to reconcile and reconstruct a continent still reeling from war, yet facing a new East-West divide, launched the concept of a trans-national court to protect the basic human rights of every European citizen, took the first steps towards what would in time become the European Union. In August 1949, Paul-Henri Spaak of Belgium was elected as the first president of the Assembly, steering its early work. However, in December 1951, after nearly three years in the role, Spaak resigned in disappointment after the Assembly rejected proposals for a "European political authority".

Convinced the Council of Europe was never going to be strong enough to achieve his long-term goal of European unification, he soon tried again in a different format, becoming one of the founders of the European Union. In 2018 an archive of all speeches made to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe by heads of state or government since the Council of Europe's creation in 1949 appeared online, the fruit of a two-year project entitled "Voices of Europe". At the time of its launch, the archive comprised 263 speeches delivered over a 70-year period by some 216 Presidents, Prime Ministers and religious leaders from 45 countries - though it continues to expand, as new speeches are added every few months; some early speeches by individuals considered to be "founding figures" of the European institutions if they were not heads of state or government at the time, are included. Addresses by eight monarchs appear in the list as well as the speeches gi

David B. McKibbin

David Bell McKibbin was a United States Army officer, made a brevet brigadier general in the final weeks of the American Civil War. Born to a local politician in Pittsburgh, McKibbin studied at the United States Military Academy and served in the Mexican–American War, but resigned due to poor health, he rejoined the regular army in 1855 and served in Washington Territory, fighting in the Puget Sound War before going east when the American Civil War broke out in 1861. As a company and battalion commander in the 14th Infantry Regiment, McKibbin fought with the Army of the Potomac in the Seven Days Battles, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, he commanded the 158th Pennsylvania Infantry in Virginia and North Carolina from late 1862 to mid-1863, commanded the 14th Infantry for less than a month from May 1864 to his capture at the Battle of Bethesda Church. While a prisoner of war, McKibbin was brevetted twice for his actions during the Overland Campaign, he was exchanged late that year and returned to the 14th Infantry as a battalion commander, but did not go back into combat.

In the northern hemisphere spring of 1865 McKibbin was made a brevet brigadier general in recognition of his war service, commanded the 214th Pennsylvania Infantry on garrison duty after the end of the war. Postwar, he continued his army career but retired due to health conditions arising from his time as a prisoner of war. McKibbin was born in Pittsburgh on 5 April 1831, the sixth child of local Democratic politician and financier Chambers McKibbin and Jane Bell McKibbin, his brothers included Joseph C. McKibbin, Chambers McKibbin, Robert P. McKibbin, all of whom served as Army officers, he entered and was accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point from Pennsylvania on 1 July 1846, going on sick leave from 4 November 1847 to June 1848, during a portion of which he served in the Mexican–American War as a volunteer aide-de-camp to General James Bankhead. Following his return to West Point, McKibbin resigned on 31 October 1848 as a result of Mexican fever contracted during his service.

He was appointed a 2nd lieutenant in the newly activated 9th Infantry on 3 March 1855, was on recruiting duty until 7 July after which he served with the regiment at Fort Monroe until 15 December. McKibbin was sent to California via the Isthmus of Panama with the regiment, serving with the regiment in Washington Territory during the Puget Sound War. Mentioned for bravery in combat, he commanded the escort to the Astronomical Party of the Northwestern Boundary Commission from 22 July to 8 December 1858; as tensions increased in the leadup to the American Civil War, McKibbin was promoted to 1st lieutenant on 1 March 1861. Following the outbreak of the war, he was ordered to Washington, D. C. on 21 April to report to the Secretary of War and became a captain on 14 May, commanding Company H in the newly created 14th Infantry. McKibbin was placed on mustering duty for the regiment at Trenton, New Jersey and Elmira, New York from 7 June, was on recruiting duty for it from August until 29 September.

He was sent to the Army of the Potomac with the regiment, distinguishing himself at the Battle of Gaines's Mill and in the rest of the Seven Days Battles during the Peninsula Campaign while fighting alongside his brother Chambers. Wounded in the head during the Second Battle of Bull Run on 30 August 1862, he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the regiment at the Battle of Antietam on 17 September, during which it supported artillery batteries at Antietam Creek. McKibbin became Colonel of the 158th Pennsylvania Infantry on 24 November, leading it in Virginia and as part of the Keystone Brigade of the District of Pamlico in the Department of North Carolina. After the regiment was mustered out on 12 August 1863, McKibbin served as an aide-de-camp to General Romeyn B. Ayres, commander of the 2nd Division of V Corps of the Army of the Potomac, between 25 September and November, was on duty at the draft rendezvous in Madison, Wisconsin until May 1864, he assumed command of the 14th Infantry, now reduced to battalion strength, upon his return in May, but was wounded twice and captured at the Battle of Bethesda Church during the Overland Campaign on 2 June 1864.

He was made a brevet major and a brevet lieutenant colonel on 1 August 1864 for his "gallant service" at the Battles of North Anna and Bethesda Church, respectively. McKibbin was imprisoned successively at Libby Prison, at Camp Oglethorpe in Macon, at Camp Sorghum in Charleston, South Carolina until paroled in October, but remained at Camp Parole until exchanged in December. After serving with the 14th Infantry in New York until February 1865, McKibbin remained on recruiting duty in New York until April. McKibbin became the Colonel of the 214th Pennsylvania Infantry on 5 April and led it in the Army of the Shenandoah and in the garrison of Washington, D. C. until it was mustered out on 30 April 1866. McKibbin was on leave until August 1866, transferred to the 32nd Infantry on 21 September became a major of the 10th Infantry on 15 September 1867, he commanded the post of Davids' Island while on recruiting duty from August 1866 to 2 September 1868, after which he went on leave again until 15 March 1869.

After spending a couple months awaiting orders, McKibbin served on reconstruction duty in Virginia until February 1870. While on recruiting duty until January 1871, he transferred to the 10th Cavalry on 31 December 1870. McKibbin received permission to delay moving to his new assignment and took a leave of absence until 26 March 1871, joining the regiment in the Indian Territory until 1 August, when he went on sick


Liveline is an Irish radio interview and phone-in chat show broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 each weekday afternoon between 13.45 and 15.00. The programme, presented by Joe Duffy and known for its slogan "Talk to Joe", seeks the public's opinion on various questions one or more controversial current events. According to The New York Times, it is Ireland's "most popular radio call-in program". According to the Irish Independent, "His greeting at 1.45pm every weekday -- "Hello, good afternoon and you're welcome to Liveline"—is the signal for 400,000 listeners to sit back and await some lively debate or the exposure of a scam or a social scandal". Liveline was presented and produced by Marian Finucane and Doireann Ní Bhriain, but is presented by Joe Duffy. During the presenter's absence, the role of presenter is filled by Philip Boucher-Hayes, Damien O'Reilly or Derek Davis. "Funny Fridays", while unpopular to regular listeners features guests who include Brendan "Brush" Shiels and Brendan "Doc" Savage.

In early August 2007 Liveline ran a series of programmes focusing on the problems experienced by those who holiday abroad. The poor behaviour of young Irish holiday makers was highlighted. Callers air their grievances over topics such as bikini-wearing models. In September 2009, the screenwriter Frank Deasy appeared on Liveline several days before his death from liver cancer to discuss organ donor awareness. A record of at least 5,500 people soon applied to become holders of organ donor cards, 2,000 afterwards and a further 3,500 the following day. By comparison, a similar request on The Late Late Show in 2007 yielded only 1,000 more donor applicants. Mark Murphy, CEO of the Irish Kidney Association, put it down to "the power of Joe Duffy". Joe Duffy thought about resigning from RTÉ in 2007 after the broadcaster forced him to give Justice Minister Michael McDowell a platform on Liveline to make a "party political broadcast". Duffy considered it "direct party-political interference" in Liveline.

Whilst presenting Liveline as a stand-in host for regular presenter Joe Duffy in February 2007, Evelyn O'Rourke found herself playing host to a debate on gay adoption. The debate featured heated discussions with journalist Hermann Kelly following the publication of an article he wrote in the Irish Mail on Sunday in which he criticised the notion of gays and lesbians adopting children. Kelly criticised the foster father Colm O'Gorman, the director of One in Four and a prospective election candidate for the Progressive Democrats in Wexford. Following the debate a number of complaints were aired by listeners centering on the conduct of O'Rourke and alleging that she had cut Kelly off, interrupted him on occasions and left him to defend his stance alone against several hostile callers. A Mary Moriarty, amongst five listeners to complain about the debate, told the Broadcasting Complaints Commission that callers had made slanderous remarks on Kelly several times and had not been asked for an apology or retraction of their statements.

O'Rourke unwittingly and accidentally revealed her support for gay adoption by referring to the pro-gay adoption callers as "we" when discussing the matter. The BCC decided that the show had not been impartial and that O'Rourke's quick questioning of Kelly had been "unfair". Journalist Eoin McMahon expressed his disgust in the Sunday Independent: If a journalist or pro-homosexual activist writes an article promoting homosexual rights, three guesses whether Liveline would devote an entire programme rubbishing the article, with the presenter coaxing and cajoling irate callers to put the boot in; the silenced majority: they haven't gone away you know. Transport minister Martin Cullen and his former PR adviser, Monica Leech, sought compensation in 2005 for damage to their reputation after a caller to Liveline made lewd suggestions about them live on air. Liveline has been censured by the government for host Joe Duffy's repeated attempts to continually discuss the effects of the global financial crisis on Ireland.

This followed on from the outrage caused when Duffy was held responsible by Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan for inciting widespread public fear that Irish citizens were on the verge of losing their savings. Several callers spoke of their lack of confidence in the banking system, of how they had withdrawn their money from banks, some of which were identified, were either carrying it around on their person, or considering keeping it "under the mattress", or burying it in their garden. Duffy inflamed the situation further by asking a woman what it felt like carrying over €70,000 "down the street" and a man how he would feel carrying his savings with him "on the bus" before opining that the banks would not be believed if they stated the system was working as normal. Lenihan rang Cathal Goan, the Director-General of RTÉ, on 18 September 2008 to express his outrage at the sudden increase in disastrous speculation following the show. Duffy and his Liveline production team were rebuked by RTÉ's management.

A senior figure in Irish banking called the show "absolutely its single most destructive broadcast ever". RTÉ publicly defended Duffy and Liveline but behind the scenes was said to be embarrassed permitting the Sunday newspapers to "castigate" Liveline. Duffy wished to return to the issue the following day, having prepared and broadcast a promo piece, but was ruled over by management who decided otherwise, "the damage having been done"; the extent of the Finance Minister's concern first publicly emerged