For an eternal optimist, I do not hold out much hope for the taxpayer on this one until we are all well and truly bankrupt.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
Many Gardai, yet again, want to be treated like a special force, or in this case, a special case; at least those who thought they were developers or wanted an opulent house way beyond their means. Now, unlike the rest of people who became indebted in this country, they want their anonymity preserved as well and for what?
It is not a crime to be in debt, though sometimes it can feel that way, and nothing to be ashamed of even though this is often the emotion that stalks it. Many feel like going undercover itself just to collect the dole such is the overwhelming feeling of shame. At least in a more positive light, a policeman, even an undercover one, has a job that pays well and one that is secure, and can formulate a working plan to combat his indebtedness. This is in direct contrast to those genuinely signing on the dole, with no prospects and no hope of rising above their situation unless they lose everything and start from scratch. And scratching it will be. No easy task if you are facing into your 40’s or 50’s or indeed 60’s.
It is no surprise to many that the biggest category of debtors in this country are Gardai. They cannot be put in prison because of debt alone but to fraud in regard to it, even though that is also almost unheard (sound of laughter and mirth at this point) of in this country unless of course you do not pay your TV license and are anything but a Gardai. But many Gardai want to be privileged debtors now as well in an already privileged position brimming with benefits.
The core reason for one 'undercover policeman' to remain anonymous is that he/she/they will not be able to remain undercover. Strange, are they no other jobs in the Police force for these guys? But his real reason is more apparent in that he is not supposed to be insolvent or bankrupt in the first place in order to remain on the force. So, by lobbying the Government to be treated as a special case, he or they, are trying to make the State complicit in a cover up, and until the law is changed, this will be for now illegal. This is nothing new in Ireland. The drip feed controversy of how the police and government treat whistleblowers in the force leave no room for doubt as to how those who strive to expose corruption within it are and will be treated. There is one law for a single person at the best of times and rarely for everyone as a whole; just depends on circumstance and connections. A stud quo yet to be broken.
The former Department Of JusticeAlan Shatter when running his own personal fiefdom, had already heralded where they were heading with this one: “In a very exceptional and individual situation, a debtor should contact the Insolvency Service Of Ireland (ISI) which will consider each case to see if any solution can be found.” This is all very well but the most they can do is lobby to have the law changed for as it stands now it is justice for all but in principle only. This will change one way or the other.
That principle can be easily compromised as it has before had Shatter and his department along with the collusion of the ISI and the Gardai, made up their own laws as they went along, and let the taxpayer bleed in trying to restore law and order once again through the draconian and slow legal system we have here. It is not an accident; it is designed this way to forestall justice by time itself.
For an eternal optimist, I do not hold out much hope for the taxpayer on this one until we are all well and truly bankrupt.
For an eternal optimist, I do not hold out much hope for the taxpayer on this one until we are all well and truly bankrupt.
Clockwise from top left: Frank O'Connor, James Joyce, Brendan Behan, George Berhard Shaw, Edna O'Brien and John McGahern.
Fifty years ago this month a major legal change heralded the beginning of the end of a shameful chapter in Irish cultural history when Ireland’s notorious publications censorship law was reformed.
The worst excesses of a vicious and stupid regime that had blighted Ireland’s reputation since independence were undone, and the subsequent trajectory was one of increasing liberalisation and progress.
Today, thankfully, Irish writers are celebrated and supported rather than ostracised and denigrated.
Film censorship had been introduced in 1923 and was exercised until 1940 by a censor who admitted that while he knew nothing about films, he knew the Ten Commandments!
His successors until the 1980s were little better, banning and cutting films according to zealous Catholic standards.
Catholic campaigners in the 1920s wanted a similar shutdown on the ‘evil literature’ that was seen to be contaminating holy Ireland.
In relation to censorship, as well as a range of other issues, independent Ireland’s early governments were keen to satisfy the extremely conservative demands of a highly organised ‘Catholic Action’ movement, supported by the hierarchy.
The 1929 Censorship of Publications Act empowered a board of five, appointed by the justice minister, to permanently ban a book or periodical if they considered it to be in its ‘general tendency indecent or obscene’, if it advocated or advertised contraception or abortion, or if it devoted excessive attention to crime.
All boards until at least the 1960s were dominated by Catholic activists, mainly members of the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland and the Knights of Columbanus.
The British popular press was a key target. Publications with low circulations in Ireland simply withdrew from the market, while large-selling titles like the News of the World were forced to produce special Irish editions, shorn of birth-control advertisements as well as the salacious court reports that underpinned their popularity.
The requirement to take the general tendency and overall merit of a book into account was ignored from the outset as the censors waged war on modern literature, prohibiting books that alluded to sex or sexuality in even the most innocuous or non-explicit way.
The mere suggestion of homosexuality, promiscuity, or prostitution was enough to ban a book. Most of the leading writers of modern fiction fell victim, leading cynics to dub the Irish Register of Prohibited Publications ‘The Everyman’s Guide to the Modern Classics’.
The register included ten Nobel laureates in literature: Anatole France, Sinclair Lewis, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Mann, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Mikhail Sholokhov, Henrich Böll, and Samuel Beckett.
Shaw and Beckett were part of a long list of Irish writers who were especially targeted; it included James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, Liam O’Flaherty, Sean Ó Faoláin, Frank O’Connor, Francis Stuart, Austin Clarke, George Moore, Kate O’Brien, Maura Laverty, Walter Macken, Edna O’Brien, Brendan Behan, Benedict Kiely, Brian Moore, and John McGahern.
They were ‘the best banned in the land’, as Brendan Behan joked after he joined the list in 1958 following the prohibition on Borstal Boy. But behind the jokes and ridicule, writers felt persecution, were denied a place in their country’s cultural life, and were in many cases denied a living here also.
While no Irish-language book was banned, this had less to do with the intrinsic purity of writing in the native language, and more to do with the pre-publication censorship exercised on such books by their main publisher, the semi-state An Gúm. Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners suggested in the 1960s that all banned books should be published as Gaeilge — a perfect incentive for the Irish people to learn their own language!
Eventually, Irish writers began to see a ban as an inverted badge of honour. Brian Moore remembered thinking ‘it meant I was OK’ when he joined the list with Wreath for a Redhead in 1952. According to Ben Kiely, a prohibition was ‘the only laurel wreath that Ireland was offering to writers in that particular period’.
By the 1960s, as Ireland was opening itself up to the wider world, culturally as well as economically, the censorship net became more porous — banned books began to be sold openly and reviewed and serialised in the press — while the system was increasingly subjected to ridicule and scorn.
The banning of Edna O’Brien’s first five novels and John McGahern’s The Dark, followed by his sacking from his teaching job, increased the pressure.
In 1967 justice minister Brian Lenihan brought forward a new Censorship of Publications Act. The permanent prohibition on books banned for indecency and obscenity was replaced by a 12-year ban, applied retrospectively.
This immediately released over 5,000 titles, and about 400 a year up to 1979. In the latter year also, coincidentally, the partial legalisation of contraception led to the lifting on the ban on birth-control information, followed by that on abortion information in 1992.
Dr Donal Ó Drisceoil is a senior lecturer in history at UCC. He is joint editor of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, which is published on September 1.
Alarming findings by Prof Stanley Milgram of Yale University have since been confirmed in many studies
Stanley Milgram’s results indicate that most of us would follow orders to do terrible things, just as the Nazis did; surely a poignant result for Milgram, a son of Jewish immigrants
In 1961, Stanley Milgram (1933-1984), professor of social psychology at Yale University, carried out a landmark study to measure ordinary peoples’ willingness to obey an authority who instructs them to take actions that conflict with their conscience. The results indicate that most of us would follow orders to do terrible things, just as the Nazis did; surely a poignant result for Milgram, a son of Jewish immigrants, to ponder.
Milgram recruited male participants for his study (20 to 50 years old) telling them the experiment would test the effects of punishment on learning behaviour and they would be paid $4.50 (€4) for one hour’s work. Unknown to these participants the experimenter had hired an accomplice who was an actor. When a participant arrived he would find the experimenter with another “participant” (the actor). The two participants were “randomly” allocated the roles of learner and teacher when the experimenter handed each a slip of paper. Unknown to the genuine participant, each slip said “teacher”. The actor accomplice always mentioned he had a weak heart.
The learner was strapped into a chair and an electrode taped to his wrist. He was told he was to learn a list of word pairs and that whenever he gave a wrong answer when quizzed, the teacher would give him an electric shock of increasing intensity with each wrong answer. The teacher watched this and then was taken to a separate room, from where he could hear but not see the learner, and seated before a shock generator, which had a line of shock switches ranging from 15 to 450 volts in 15-volt steps. Verbal signs describe the severity of each shock from “Slight” to “Danger – Severe Shock”.
The teacher read the list of word pairs to the learner and then read the first of each word pair and four possible answers. The learner made his choice by pressing a button. If the response was wrong, the teacher administered a shock, increasing the shock by 15 volts with each wrong answer. If the response was correct, the teacher went on to the next word pair.
The teacher believed he was delivering painful shocks, but no shocks were actually being delivered. A tape of pre-recorded responses to each shock level was connected to the shock-generator and started by the accomplice. After a few shock increases the actor started to bang on the wall and shout. He complained about his weak heart and beseeched the teacher to stop the experiment. As the voltage continued to increase, the shouting turned to screams until, finally, the highest voltage elicited no sound from the learner – just ominous silence.
At a shock level of 135 volts, many teachers asked the experimenter to stop and check on the learner. However, most teachers continued after the experimenter told them they would not be held responsible. Each time the teacher said he would like to stop, the experimenter gave successive verbal instructions – “please continue”, “the experiment requires you to continue”, “it is essential that you continue”, “continue, you have no choice”. The experiment was stopped if the teacher still wished to stop after receiving these four verbal instructions. Otherwise the experiment ended only after the top voltage of 450 volts was administered three times in succession. Sixty five per cent of teachers administered the 450-volt shock.
These results are very disturbing. Commenting on the experiment, Milgram said: “Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.”
All attempts to replicate Milgram’s experiment have endorsed his results. The most recent experiment was carried out in Poland by Darious Dolinski and others from the faculty of psychology, SWPS University, Wraclaw. The motivation was to see how people who had lived under a Communist regime from the late 1940s until 1989, where strict obedience to authority was stressed, would perform in Milgram’s experiment. Basically, the Polish results confirmed Milligram’s results.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Old age is fifteen years older than I am.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine. Whoopi Goldberg
The kindest thing you can do for the people you care about is to become a happy, joyous person
Those who dance are considered insane by those who can't hear the music.
I'd rather regret the things I've done than the things I haven't done
Do something wonderful, people may imitate it
You can only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough
I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on. Live was meant to be lived.
It is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.
I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them -Phyllis Diller
To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.
William H Walton
Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere
Those who boast about being "brutally honest" are usually more brutal than honest.
No one can make you feel inferior without you consent
As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it -Buddy Hackett
Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Mark Twain
Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachersSocrates
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Detective Superintendent John O'Reilly after giving evidence on day 10 of the Disclosures Tribunal. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie
The treatment of Maurice McCabe by some elements of the media came under the spotlight yesterday, and it did not make for a pretty picture.
One of the country’s most successful journalists, Paul Williams, was in the witness box, explaining how he came to write unflattering articles about Sgt McCabe.
The garda sergeant was not identified in the pieces. The articles were based on interviews with Ms D in 2014, at the height of the garda whistleblower scandal in which Sgt McCabe had highlighted malpractice within the force.
Ms D had made an allegation against Sgt McCabe in 2006 that, eight years previously, when she was six years old, he had rubbed up against her inappropriately. The lawyer for the tribunal has described the nature of the incident as “horseplay” but Sgt McCabe denies it ever happened.
Ms D’s father was a colleague of his who had been demoted after Sgt McCabe reported him on a disciplinary matter.
In 2014, Ms D was angry that Sgt McCabe was in the headlines. She wanted her story out there, to show the world who he really was. Via a friend, she was put in touch with Mr Williams.
He interviewed her at her home and wrote an article. In a second article, he quoted her as saying that the incident occurred when “he shut the door and sexually assaulted me for what seemed like a long time”.
This is in complete variance with her original allegation, transforming “horseplay” into serious and sustained abuse of a sexual nature behind a closed door.
The article also quoted her as saying that the incident “sent her into a downward spiral” once she became aware of it some years later.
The DPP ruled that, even if the incident had occurred as she had alleged, it wouldn’t have constituted a criminal act. Yet now Ms D was claiming it had — as Mr Williams said in the witness box — “ruined her life”.
This is a narrative that would suit anybody ill disposed towards an individual who was highlighting malpractice in An Garda Siochána. Who, after all, would trust somebody portrayed as a child abuser?
During a forensic cross-examination by Sgt McCabe’s counsel, Michael McDowell, Mr Williams accepted that he never checked out the story.
“Did it ever strike you that you should make some effort to validate the truth of those charges,” asked the lawyer.
Journalist Paul Williams at the The Disclosures Tribunal in Dublin Castle today. Pic: Collins
Mr Williams replied that he didn’t feel it necessary as Sgt McCabe had not been identified in the story.
“Many, many people must have known whom you were referring to, not least Maurice and Lorraine McCabe; the D family; gardaí in the area would have known; the members of government who were aware of this would have known; the station party in Bailieborough would have known,” said Mr McDowell.
“Did you care for one minute about getting the other side of the story?”
Mr Williams repeated that he wasn’t identifying Sgt McCabe in the piece.
He also helped out Ms D in her quest to get somebody to listen to her. She had claimed the investigation into her allegation was flawed. Mr Williams put her in touch with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, picked her up from the train, dropped her to Leinster House, and brought her back afterwards.
Then he wrote about the meeting in a speculative piece suggesting that Enda Kenny, the then taoiseach, was going to open an investigation into Ms D’s case.
“It was deceiving the reader into believing that you were reporting events when in fact you were orchestrating events,” said Mr McDowell.
Mr Williams denied this.
He also organised for Ms D to meet Alan Shatter after he resigned as minister for justice that year. Mr Williams told the tribunal he had performed services like this for other people about whom he has written stories.
His contacts with the garda press office on the matter were unorthodox. He says he contacted the head of the office, Superintendent Dave Taylor, some days after the initial interview. He says Supt Taylor filled him in on the background to the case, including that the DPP had ruled that it did not warrant prosecution.
Nobody filled him in on the exact detail of the case.
In any event, the tribunal was told that Supt Taylor disputes Mr Williams’ version of their contact. He claims that Mr Williams rang him from the home of Ms D on the day he conducted the interview.
Supt Taylor says Mr Williams told him that Sgt McCabe had destroyed this woman’s life and he, Mr Williams, was going to write a piece that would be very damaging to Sgt McCabe.
Mr Williams denies this.
Whichever version represents the actual facts, the interaction between the journalist and garda press office about the confidential details of a member of the force raises a major question.
Were things done this way in order to further an agenda to blacken Sgt McCabe’s character? Mr Williams says he wasn’t part of any campaign. He also denies he was “a puppet for the guards”.
The articles written did not identify Sgt McCabe to the general public, but for those in the know it was obvious who was the subject.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Welcome for Canadian and Australian studies that also show healthier, more fertile cattle
News that a slight dietary change could dramatically reduce the amount of environmentally harmful methane gas released by cattle has been given an enthusiastic welcome by Irish farmers.
Researchers at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, found the addition of less than 2 per cent dried seaweed to a cow’s diet could reduce their methane emissions by as much as 99 per cent.
The study builds on the experience of a Canadian farmer who discovered in 2012 that cattle eating wind-blown seaweed were not just more healthy than others, but enjoyed a longer mating cycle. Researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen subsequently confirmed the results as well as finding seaweeds and similar plants reduced methane emissions.
This was further substantiated by the Australian study, which was led by Prof of Aquaculture Rocky De Nys in collaboration with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Agriculture and transport are the largest contributors to Ireland’s climate change emissions and there have long been suggestions that the population should eat fewer burgers and steaks in an effort to reduce cattle numbers and protect the environment.
The gas is released via burps and flatulence by the estimated 1.5 billion cows as a byproduct of their biology. Cows, with the help of stomach bacteria, digest their food through a process called enteric fermentation, which allows them to live on a cellulose-heavy diet of grass.
The end result of their digestive habits is the daily leakage of some 200 to 500 litres of methane, which is about 25-times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 100-year time span.
The Irish Farmers’ Association gave a broad welcome to the study saying the research provides the opportunity to continue to build on Ireland’s “sustainable grass-based model of food production”.
The association’s environment chairman, Thomas Cooney, called on Irish researchers “to immediately investigate the potential for this research in an Irish agriculture context, and in the context of the opportunity that may exist for indigenous seaweed production”.
Ireland has a long tradition of harvesting seaweed, much of it by hand to help fertilise small holdings where the land is poor in nutrients. Frequently known as dulse or dillisk along the west coast, seaweed has long been regarded for its health-giving properties.
By Tim O’ Brien
Sunday, July 16, 2017
When Alice Burns returned her engagement ring to Thomas Parry in the post in 1884, he boarded a train to Galway
The Royal Hotel in Eyre Square, Galway, circa 1936. Photograph: Kennys Bookshop Galway
On a Monday evening in late July, ThomasParry boarded a train to Galway. Arriving shortly before midnight, he checked into the Imperial Hotel on Eyre Square, ordering supper alongside two and a half glasses of whiskey.
He tipped the waiter and bought more drinks - two bottles of porter. At some point in the night, he penned a letter to his father before going to bed.
At 6am, he called for another whiskey, and another two hours later. He left the hotel shortly after without taking breakfast and with a loaded revolver concealed in his pocket.
For about eight months leading up to July 29th, 1884, Parry had been engaged to a young woman named Alice Burns. Ms Burns’s stepfather, Mr Mack, ran Mack’s Royal Hotel at the time; a popular Eyre Square accommodation which stood on the site that is now Supermac’s flagship store.
She had recently been visiting family in Galway city while Parry continued to work in his native Edenderry.
In the days before he boarded the train, Parry unexpectedly received his fiancée’s engagement ring in the post, along with a letter which Ms Burns intended to be their final correspondence.
According to a report in The Irish Times, while she was in Galway, “she accepted the offer of another respectable young man, and forthwith communicated with Parry, who was then residing at Edenderry, returning him the engagement ring which he had purchased for her, and informing him that that letter was to end all communication between them”.
Parry did not respond to the letter, instead promptly travelling west. He selected the Imperial for a reason - it was next-door to the Royal.
Having visited the family hotel earlier that month himself, he was familiar with Alice’s routine. He knew she would go to Salthill for a swim with her sister and niece each morning, returning at about 8am for breakfast.
Mr Mack would then typically set out for a swim at about 9am. We know from a report in The Irish Times on December 12th, 1884, that Mr Mack didn’t care for Parry: “Whether it was that Mr Mack considered that Parry had not had sufficient means to marry, or that he anticipated a better marriage for Miss Burns, he disapproved of her marriage with Parry.”
‘Sorry to intrude’
With the knowledge that Alice would be back at the Royal, Parry left his hotel and walked next-door. After speaking to a servant, he made his way to the dining area, where - as planned - he found Ms Burns.
“When he entered the room he said he was sorry to intrude,” reads the report. “He shook hands with Miss Burns and with her sister and niece. He asked Alice why she had thrown him over.
“The witnesses who would be examined could not say what was her reply. He said ‘We will see,’ and as soon as he had said that he drew back about a yard, drew a revolver out of his pocket and fired at the back of Alice, who was sitting at the table.”
Alice screamed and ran to the door. Parry followed and shot her again in the back. After she fell, he discharged twice more, and “one of those four pellets passed through her heart and killed her on the moment.”
Alice was carried into another room, but was already dead. In the aftermath, Parry turned the revolver on himself, but the bullet only grazed his left flank.
He walked out of the hotel and down the steps to the street, where a man named O’Halloran, employed at the saddlery next door, snatched the revolver from his hand. He and another passerby named Donnellan held Parry down until the police arrived.
I will be sure no other fellow will have the chance of having her when she does not want me
Thomas F Brady - then the Irish inspector of fisheries - was at the scene, too. “You ruffian, you have killed this woman, she is dead,” he said to Parry.
“I am damned glad of it: I came to do it,” was his reply.
His trial the following December, as reported on the 12th in The Irish Times, heard Parry remained unrepentant in the police barrack a short time after the shooting, saying: “I have come 112 miles to do it. I have shot her. I would not let any girl play on me. She was engaged to me for some months. She returned my letters and my engagement ring.”
In court, Parry pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, supposed evidence of which included a “hereditary madness” in his family; the defence pointed to a cousin of his in an asylum and an “imbecile” uncle on his mother’s side.
His father, too, was used to illustrate familial mental illness. Though his father had never been convicted of anything, the defence said he would have been if any of the cases went to court. In one example, a witness said: “. . . twenty years ago the prisoner’s father took of his coat and waistcoat when going along a road, and jumped up on a wall, and that on the same day the police arrested him in consequence of his extraordinary behaviour.”
The Royal Hotel in Eyre Square was knocked down and replaced with Woolworths in 1956. Photograph: Kennys Bookshop Galway
Other evidence was rolled out to paint Parry as being insane. Once, he apparently threatened to shoot his mother after an argument. Another time, he was said to have been caught “violently thrashing a shepherd’s dog”. The defence intended to detail cases to do with his uncle, but that was disallowed.
Dr Kincaid, lecturer of Medical Jurisprudence in Galway College and Medical officer to the jail in Galway, said Parry was cool and collected on the day he killed Alice. He answered questions rationally, he thought. However, the doctor “came to the conclusion that the prisoner did not know what he was doing was wrong, though he knew what the legal consequences of the act would be.”
Dr Kincaid was cross-examined by the prosecution; it emerged that nowhere in his patient notes up until the trial date did he mention he thought the man was insane.
Three other doctors - Dr Browne, Dr Rice and Dr Bradshaw - contradicted Dr Kincaid and said Parry was of sound mind.
Of vital importance was the handwritten letter discovered on Parry when he was arrested - the one addressed to his father, written after he arrived in Galway. Crucially, it contained an insight into his motive, clear of any confusion. It included the line: “I will be sure no other fellow will have the chance of having her when she does not want me.”
The jury found Parry guilty of murder, recommending mercy due to his exasperation on July 29th “by reason of the letters he had received from Alice Burns”.
The judge didn’t have the same sympathy. Instead, he said the “law had given him time to prepare his defence. He should now have time to prepare to meet his God”.
Parry was asked if he had anything else to say as to why he shouldn’t be put to death.
“I have nothing to say only that I am sorry for it, but my mind was not in a sound state when I did it,” he offered.
“I am very glad to hear you express that,” replied the judge, “and I trust that the short period that will be allowed to you in this world, you will make your peace and endeavour to obtain forgiveness from your Maker.”
At Galway jail some time before 8am on Tuesday, January 13th 1885, Parry was handed over to executioner James Berry and his assistant, named as Chester in an Irish Times report on the 24th.
He refrained from eating that morning, drinking only a glass of wine given to him by Dr Kincaid. He was escorted to the scaffold and “walked firmly, looking at times vaguely and wistfully around him.”
Once the prisoner was in position, “Berry stood aside, cast a hurried glance at the preparations, drew the lever, and the body of Thomas Parry disappeared into the pit below.”
“A cold thud followed, the rope oscillated gently, and all was silent.”