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Friday, June 6, 2014

Barry Clifford: How Do Good People Turn Bad?

                                                                 Nazis On Parade

How do good people turn bad and some even stay that way? That is if they are good people to begin with for it needs weakness to help the decay and maybe that overrides what good really is about; Knowing the difference between right and might makes the former an easy bed partner to the mind and is life to the soul; the latter is an appeasement to a lesser God and a more dangerous corrupt ideology. Rarer still, is that a good strong person rarely goes bad for within their supports is individuality though it may not mean that they are good either. That is what I believe in general describes the variables at work when we want to use the analogy of the Nazi regime and the Catholic clergy that sets about their work of murder either in a concentration camp or from the apparatus of an inquisition; or what separates a Catholic nun from throwing an infant into a septic tank full of hundreds more babies, and we can only hope they were dead when they went into it; or what makes any person wearing any uniform succumb to the gravest of crimes. Indeed Nazi or Catholics do not have a monopoly on extremism yet all are in uniform of some sort that succumb to the mob mentality. All it needs then is a little bit more stoking.
                 The Former Prime Minister And President Of Ireland kissing the A Bishops Ring 

And to allow any of it to exist at all needs a certain token support, even if albeit a reluctant one, along with the belief that they are untouchable and forever un-accountable. When these conditions exist we will have crimes of the worst kind, and that to look at it with moral outrage can only mean that a person was living on a remote island alone without any knowledge or co- existence of any other since they were born.

Recent history alone has proven all of these things to a reasoned person though the defenders of these crimes will tell us it was a different time and circumstance. But time is indifferent to these events, and circumstance does not change in any great measure the variables at work already mentioned. In microcosm you see it in the workplace and all too often in the family home everyday, or waiting in a line like a beggar and allow yourself to be humiliated to get an underpaid job just to keep your head above water so you can feed your child.

Yes, a bad economy helps, a no-way out mindset does too, but the tie that binds is the security of the mob that empowers the weak, the feeble minded and  the downright ugly. Without that support they become a fragile water bug that requires no effort to kill it. The mob in Ireland’s case was a Government theocracy that married religion with politics and wrote it into a constitution. Hitler’s reign was little different in it’s design. It’s execution had many similarities that included concentration camps, and only in Ireland did that mean you had to be a Catholic and a child: 160,000 children alone over a 35 year period in a country that never topped three and a half million people.

The Magdalene Children Prisoners At Work

The Germans were suppose to have been a cultured and en-lightened people since the renaissance and Ireland bragged that they were the Island of scholars for a thousand more and yet nothing could stop their return to the dark ages for almost the entire time of the 20th century. It could be argued that Germany is at pains still regarding it’s past and was best explained, by a now very different point of view, given by a former German soldier that was once part of the mob from that 2nd World war: “The American’s can say that they were fighting for freedom, the British theirs. What can we say we were fighting for.” 

It is in stark contrast to a nun from her mob that is one of Ireland’s wealthiest  religious orders who said recently about the Magdalene laundries/prisons that they ran for profit: “It was part of the system and the culture of the time.” 

Barry Clifford

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Stories of survival should not be hidden in 'shame'

It was wrong to give a guarantee of anonymity to both victims and abuser
IT IS exactly five years since the Ryan report into the residential institutional abuse of children was published. When he presented his report, Mr Justice Sean Ryan said categorically that the State authorities had been systematically and continuously "submissive and deferential" to the religious orders which ran the hellholes that were industrial schools (and also the Magdalene laundries, although they were not included in the scope of the report).
When his commission of enquiry had originally been set up, it had been headed by Ms Justice Mary Laffoy; she resigned in despair because she found herself faced with a brick wall in attempting to get co-operation from the religious orders involved.
Judge Ryan stuck with it; and he gave us a report which proved in the face of every attempt at denial and justification, that children were denied their rights, denied an education, physically abused, frequently sexually abused, half-starved, and terrorised. Thirty five-thousand children were committed to industrial schools over the years.
When the Ryan report was published, Brother Kevin Mullan, the head of the Christian Brothers in Ireland, one of the orders indicted, said he and his people would continue to co-operate with "those seeking to explore" what had happened. But the exploration would not include the naming of the individual members of the order who were responsible for the inhumanity. The Irish State had, after all, guaranteed them protection and anonymity.
A few months after publication of the Ryan report, Judge Yvonne Murphy presented the report of her enquiry into the sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Dublin. Its findings, let us remember, were equally damning. The then Vatican Ambassador to Ireland, Monsignor Giuseppe Leanza said in reaction that communications between the Irish Government and the Vatican would be "improved" to avoid "misunderstandings".
What he described as misunderstandings had been the deliberate attempt to prevent Ms Justice Murphy gaining access to files in the Vatican archives which contained documentary proof of the abuse.
But the evidence came out despite church obfuscation, denial, and obstruction. It came out in no small part thanks to the men and women, the dispossessed who had been abused, often to the point of emotionally and mentally destroyed lives, who found the courage to tell their stories in face of the awesome power of the Roman Catholic Church, the monolith that had been buttressed for generations by the Irish State.
And many of them later went on to give evidence to the Residential Institutions Redress Board, an indignity in itself: their suffering had been proved, but the State was still prepared to subject them to a further ordeal which seemed to many of them to be an attempt to minimise the monetary compensation to which they were morally entitled.
In return for their courage, the State guaranteed that the documents which contained their testimony would be destroyed. It was to be their "protection", giving them some kind of empowerment over their personal dignity.
The guarantee of anonymity applied alike to victims and perpetrators. But neither guarantee should have been given, in the interests both of justice and of compassion. The guilty men and women of the religious orders did not deserve to escape their shame, for whatever reason: "the culture of the time" or any other spurious excuse. Nor should they have been immune from prosecution where their behaviour merited it, regardless of old age or infirmity.
Equally, and for entirely different reasons, the victims of abuse should not have been assured by the State that their documentary testaments would be destroyed. The assurance was akin to the legal custom of not revealing in court the identity of a rape victim: but a victim has nothing to be ashamed of.
The abuse victims whose sad stories formed the evidence for the Ryan report had learned to keep their stories secret: they had been well-trained in the industrial schools which stole their youth, and often their innocence. They had lived their lives believing they were worthless, their childhoods something to be ashamed of, bewildered and bereft. When they summoned up the courage to have their stories heard, they should have been helped to realise that they had nothing to be ashamed of, and that the only people shamed by their experiences were the religious authorities and indeed, the State authorities who had allowed themselves to be browbeaten into complacency by the prevailing Catholic culture.
The victims should have been given the opportunity and encouragement to understand that they could be proud of their stories and their will to survive.
But not having taken the trouble to help the victims to come to terms with that simple premise, the State assured them that what they had lived with as their "shame" would remain a secret. They were assured when they gave testimony to the Ryan Commission and to the Redress Board that more than two million documents which had been the basis for both reports would be destroyed.
And now the Government has agreed in principle that the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn may bring forward amending legislation to retain the documentation instead of destroying it. It is to be deposited in the National Archive, and sealed for at least 75 years, with access after that to be subject to very "strict safeguards".
Not merely is that a betrayal of a solemn promise to the victims, it is also pointless. In my opinion, the only reason to retain the documents would be for them to remain as a scar on our national consciousness, available at all times to remind us of our inhumanity as a society. It is a reminder that should hang over us, rather than having it concealed until the generation which colluded in the guilt is long dead.

The victims should have demanded, and should have been encouraged, to name themselves in pride. That they weren't was a betrayal. And this latest move is a double betrayal.
Emer O' Kelly

Photo Minute: Namibia; take time to listen to the silence of the soul

Photo Minute: Insects Like You May Never Have Seen Them Before

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Barry Clifford: Throw The Wee Things Into The Ould Septic Tank

Sr Theresa looked up at the Mother Superior for a bit of direction. “Ah, sure another bastard child died last night. What will I do?”
“That’s the one from the illegitimate whore I expect.” Mother Superior replied dryly.
“ What will I do with the bag of bones that’s left?”
“ That is left Sr Theresa.” Mother Superior corrected as proper diction was one of her strong points. “Throw the wee thing into the ould septic tank.”

Sr Theresa hated the job. It was the air you see and even once she peered inside. She would never look there again, throwing the skeleton bodies in with shut eye thereafter.

The rancid smell of the other 700 and more infants decaying and decayed bodies was heaven within, for many battalions of insects with their families had set up permanent camp in the tank. There was the larger feeders about: rats, cats, and foxes that found their way here by that sweet scent of death. Some of them did not make it out of the tank either for gluttony killed a few here and there, while many more robust rats bred within the hollow stomach walls of the dead children. It was survival of the fittest as the only reward for second prize was death.  

Sr Theresa busied herself for someone had to do the job and knew she was doing God’s work. She knew too other infants did not die quick enough in this place over the years work for starvation can be a slow process, so the other nuns and her improvised. Drowning was quick, a pillow quicker, and throwing them over stairwells was the quickest of them all. But she was irked a bit recently for it was said the sound of crying was coming from the septic tank, babies crying.
And the talk of it was growing.

So one night she waited to find out for herself. She crept tip-toe from the convent hall to the tank without telling anyone. The wind picked up as she waited in the darkness under a tree. Then the rains came. She craned her neck, pricked her ears until her whole body was a satellite dish wired for sound. Then she heard it and sounded as clear as her conscience. She heard it again and could formulate at last the words: “Mama, Mama.” Her heart missed a beat.

Then she saw it: Two cats in mating frenzy; one wanting and the other not. She threw a stone at them and another as they scurried in full retreat. She fell back relived. That was all it had been she thought. She turned to go back. By the first step she heard the crying again and this time it was louder. One part of her told her to run and the other was a promise to herself that this must not happen again.

She was not a superstitious nun and talk of ghosts was irrational which drove her forward to open the septic tank. In the almost total darkness inside it looked like everything moved. A heaving mass of pulsating animals feeding and gorging only on death and within its vortex the sound of crying started again. Its plaintive tone grew, it’s pain with it. The panic started with the throbbing of her temple and then Sr Theresa felt something gnawing at her foot. A large rat was not for letting go for the frenzy of his hunger did not part the living from the dead. Her eyes widened in terror but the utter horror was yet to come as the wind howled around her lifting her from the mantle of the septic tank to drop her within the grey and dark liquid of decay and bone. Her black habit dragged her down and the last thing she ever saw before she hit the bottom of the pit was…………..                 

By Barry Clifford

In memory of the 796 infants whose bodies were found in a septic tank in a Mother’s and babies home for profit run by the Bon Secours nuns in Tuam Co Galway. Many of the mothers of the children were buried on the grounds of this prison that closed in 1961. They were classed as whores and their children as bastards, and all this murder was done under a quasi- legal pact between Church and State that were inseparable even within its constitution.

May they rest in peace.

Photo Minute: This Is Iceland

Monday, June 2, 2014

Video: Good on the guitar? think again

Barry Clifford: From the book: Twenty One Years-Hunginton's Disease

Their parents had an unknown amount of children. What is known is that they gave up all of them to reformatory schools all over Ireland and they were numbered to be at least fifteen of them. Most were not aware of each other’s existence. Their Mom and Dad had been encouraged to copulate and multiply in the best tradition of their faith and to hell with the consequences which proved prophetic. 

Blindly they did so even with more than a hint that something was gravely wrong. Huntington’s disease then contorted and wasted their mother’s body as their Dad kept passing his seed, which was now a poisoned chalice, on to a body that was all but dead. As more babies followed, no one wrote anything down. The nightmare was not at its beginning and it could have no end as long as the heart beats in them for this is a hereditary disease: A killer with a name, an identity, but no known cure.

For Tommy, Dennis, and Tony Coyle, no one would tell them or their siblings, or the many children they would later have between them, that a killer tracked and coursed through their ancestry. Only their parents and their doctor knew. No history was traced for them or us for no other doctor came here to visit, except once in the eight years I was in this place. He did not stay long and never came back. Decades later, by the time the disease was identified by other doctors to them, at least to the ones they could find, they were in their thirties and had already taken out many of the Coyles. The ones that still lived with the disease prayed that they would die.

Barry Clifford

Video: No sense of humour- don't watch this: Very drunk

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Truth Is Power

                     The Power of Truth: (Edited Version) circa 1902
Lying is one of the oldest vices in the world—it made its debut in the first recorded conversation in history, in a famous interview in the garden of Eden. Lying is the sacrifice of honor to create a wrong impression. It is masquerading in misfit virtues. Truth can stand alone, for it needs no chaperone or escort. Lies are cowardly, fearsome things that must travel in battalions. They are like a lot of drunken men, one vainly seeking to support another. Lying is the partner and accomplice of all the other vices.
The man who is honest merely because it is “the best policy,” is not really honest, he is only politic. Usually such a man would forsake his seeming loyalty to truth and would work overtime for the devil—if he could get better terms.
The tradesman who lies, cheats, misleads and overcharges and then seeks to square himself with his anemic conscience by saying, “lying is absolutely necessary to business,” is as untrue in his statement as he is in his acts. He justifies himself with the petty defense as the thief who says it is necessary to steal in order to live. The permanent business prosperity of an individual, a city or a nation rests finally on commercial integrity alone, despite all that the cynics may say, or all the exceptions whose temporary success may mislead them. It is truth alone that lasts.
The politician who is vacillating, temporizing, shifting, constantly trimming his sails to catch every puff of wind of popularity, is a trickster who succeeds only until he is found out. A lie may live for a time, truth for all time. A lie never lives by its own vitality, it merely continues to exist because it simulates truth. When it is unmasked, it dies. When each of four newspapers in one city puts forth the claim that its circulation is larger than all the others combined, there must be an error somewhere. Where there is untruth there is always conflict, discrepancy, impossibility. If all the truths of life and experience from the first second of time, or for any section of eternity, were brought together, there would be perfect harmony, perfect accord, union and unity, but if two lies come together, they quarrel and seek to destroy each other.
The man who votes the same ticket in politics, year after year, without caring for issues, men, or problems, merely voting in a certain way because he always has voted so, is sacrificing loyalty to truth to a weak, mistaken, stubborn attachment to a worn out precedent. Such a man should stay in his cradle all his life—because he spent his early years there.
It is in the trifles of daily life that truth should be our constant guide and inspiration. Truth is not a dress-suit, consecrated to special occasions, it is the strong, well-woven, durable homespun for daily living.
The man who forgets his promises is untrue. We rarely lose sight of those promises made to us for our individual benefit; these we regard as checks we always seek to cash at the earliest moment. “The miser never forgets where he hides his treasure,” says one of the old philosophers. Let us cultivate that sterling honor that holds our word so supreme, so sacred, that to forget it would seem a crime, to deny it would be impossible. The man who says pleasant things and makes promises which to him are light as air, but to someone else seem the rock upon which a life’s hope is built is cruelly untrue. He who does not regard his appointments, carelessly breaking them or ignoring them, is the thoughtless thief of another’s time. It reveals selfishness, carelessness, and lax business morals. It is untrue to the simplest justice of life.
Men who split hairs with their conscience, who mislead others by deft, shrewd phrasing which may be true in letter yet lying in spirit and designedly uttered to produce a false impression, are untruthful in the most cowardly way. Such men would cheat even in solitaire. Like murderers they forgive themselves their crime in congratulating themselves on the cleverness of their alibi. The parent who preaches honor to his child and gives false statistics about the child’s age to the conductor, to save a nickel, is not true.
The man who keeps his religion in camphor all week and who takes it out only on Sunday, is not true. He who seeks to get the highest wages for the least possible amount of service, is not true. The man who has to sing lullabies to his conscience before he himself can sleep, is not true.The man who has a certain religious belief and fears to discuss it, lest it may be proved wrong, is not loyal to his belief, he has but a coward’s faithfulness to his prejudices. If he were a lover of truth, he would be willing at any moment to surrender his belief for a higher, better, and truer faith.
The prosperity that is based on lying, deception, and intrigue, is only temporary—it cannot last any more than a mushroom can outlive an oak. Like the blind Samson, struggling in the temple, the individual whose life is based on trickery always pulls down the supporting columns of his own edifice, and perishes in the ruins. No matter what price a man may pay for truth, he is getting it at a bargain. The lying of others can never hurt us long, it always carries with it our exoneration in the end.

William George Jordan 1902

‘Paddy’ still likes to know what’s going on

LAST week, another blow was dealt to democracy in this country and it has passed with little comment.
On Wednesday, the Oireachtas Justice Committee met to canvas opinion on the drafting of a new bill on policing. One of three witnesses heard by the committee was Brian Purcell, Secretary General of the Department of Justice.
Nominally, Purcell is obliged to answer to the Oireachtas. We, the people, elect the Oireachtas to govern on our behalf, and, nominally, both the executive and the permanent civil service are answerable to the parliament.
                                                                      Brian Purcell
In reality, that vital cog of our democratic system is a sham. Purcell refused to answer questions about the departure from office of former Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan. As far as Purcell was concerned, his actions in that matter are not answerable to the Oireachtas — certainly not now, at any rate.
The manner in which Callinan left office is vitally important. In a despotic state, a junta or dictator can remove a police chief who isn’t doing his master’s bidding.
That dangerous state of affairs would not be tolerated in an alleged democracy. Yet, Callinan’s departure has raised major questions. By far the most important is whether or not the leader of the country had the most senior police officer removed from office for nothing more than political expediency.
If that happened, then Taoiseach Enda Kenny will have to go. No democracy could tolerate that kind of behaviour.
Callinan resigned on March 25, or, as he portrayed it, he “retired”. He issued a statement that read: “In the best interests of An Garda Siochána and my family, I have decided to retire. I felt that recent developments were proving to be a distraction for the important work that is carried out by An Garda Siochána.”
Most people thought Callinan had gone in a fit of pique, rather than apologise to the whistleblower gardaí, whose actions he had descried as “disgusting” some six weeks earlier. The ‘retirement’ announcement was a shock. After all, while the “disgusting” remark was embarrassing for Callinan, it could have been handled with a modicum of compromise.
Hours later, it emerged that another issue was behind the former commissioner’s decision. Kenny told the Dáil that, two days previously, he had been informed by the Attorney General that there was a major issue around tape recording in garda stations. The practice had been going on for 30 years. It had the potential for serious problems.
On the evening before Callinan resigned, Kenny met with former Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, who was also under pressure over the garda controversies, and the secretaries general of their respective departments. Following that meeting, Kenny dispatched Purcell to Callinan’s house, to express the “disquiet” of the Cabinet about the taping revelations.
Firstly, this communication was inaccurate. The Cabinet, which would have to approve the removal of a commissioner, was unaware of the situation. Only Shatter and Kenny were in the loop. Secondly, it was unprecedented for Purcell to visit the commissioner at home. If all he was expressing was “disquiet”, why didn’t he just pick up the phone?
Is it really possible that Purcell was dispatched to convey to Callinan anything but the fact that the Taoiseach wanted rid of him? After all, if Callinan were to go, then the pressure on Shatter might ease. Was Kenny intent on sending Callinan on his way, in order to save Shatter? (As it was to turn out, Shatter only got a reprieve. He was gone within another two months).
As Kenny said himself, days later, he doesn’t have the authority to dismiss the commissioner, but all the circumstantial evidence suggests that he forced Callinan from office.
On the day of Callinan’s “retirement”, the leader of the opposition, Micheál Martin, accused Kenny of sacking the commissioner. A few days later, “sources close to” Callinan revealed that he was “shocked” at the visit from Purcell, and felt he was left with no option but to resign.
In an alleged democracy, a prime minister would want this matter dealt with immediately, in order to allay any suspicion that he had acted like a dictator.
Not here. Instead, Kenny moved to ensure the facts surrounding Callinan’s departure from office be buried for the medium term, at least.
Kenny insisted on including the events around the commissioner’s departure in the commission of inquiry set up to examine the taping issue. The proper forum to deal with the events of March 24-25 would have been an Oireachtas committee. Instead, the truth of the matter has been long-fingered, and, in political terms, what’s been long-fingered can often end up in never-never-land.
What exactly did Purcell say to Callinan? Why was Purcell sent at all, as the records suggest that Callinan had moved with probity and speed to resolve the tape-recording matter once it came to his attention? Did the content of Purcell’s message leave Callinan with no option but to resign?
All of these questions require answers. Otherwise, we accept that a Garda Commissioner can be fired, not for his performance in office, but for the political imperatives of serving politicians. That would be a very dodgy place to go.
Last Wednesday, the Justice Committee looked for answers, but Purcell said he wasn’t going there. He claimed that he couldn’t discuss the matter, as it was included in the commission of inquiry terms of reference. In reality, if he so wished, there was nothing to stop him providing answers to the Oireachtas. Ironically, at the same meeting he was perfectly happy to discuss other matters, which are also the subject of a commission of inquiry, because it suited him to do so.
This is an old trick, perfected by Fianna Fáil back in the days of the planning tribunal. Issues that Bertie Ahern considered politically desirable to air — such as his dig-out finances — were dealt with, but anything awkward was parked by referring to the sanctity of the tribunal.
Purcell’s fate is tied to Kenny’s. If the suspicions were confirmed, then both of them would have to go. But the fact that the civil servant was not obliged to answer the questions of the Oireachtas demonstrates the weakness of our democracy.
Elsewhere, checks and balances in the system are taken seriously. Parliamentary committees have real power to hold the other arms of government to account. Here, the executive does as it pleases, and, in this case, it would appear that the Taoiseach, alone of the executive, may have actually abused his power to a worrying extent.

“Paddy likes to know what’s going on,” Kenny said on the night of the 2011 general election. Right now, he seems determined to ensure that Paddy stays in the dark on this matter. As long as that pertains, a big dirty cloud will hang over him.

Michael Clifford

Barry Clifford: Labour: Holding on to power at any cost


Alex White, he of the dodgy suit, white shirt and pink tie, and sporting a red carnation, and who looks more like Max Clifford than a man trying to be leader of the labour party, tells us he likes Eamon Gilmore even though he tried to shove the plastic knife in his back before Eamon did it to himself. White then tells us Eamon was a great leader so why bother to get rid of a good thing at all. Well, only if you want the perks and privileges of leader because Alex is not into contributing to ‘Save The Children Fund’ anytime soon. He is in it relevant to what he can get out of it for life as a failed legal eagle was never going to be as good as this. The reality is that changing faces in the labour party is not going to save it.

There are no strong personalities in the party, apart from Ruairi Quinn, no character, none with any conviction, and are as far adrift from the core principles of their foundation as they have ever been. If Alex White is to be their new leader it has to be considered he was the main driving force for removing the medical card for seriously sick children even though he blatantly denied this which throws out the window any chance of an apology. The other reality is Labour wants to hold on to power at any cost.

There was White, on the platform where he announced to the media of his takeover bid of the Labour party and with him was Derek Nolan, and the only difference in their attire was Nolan had been wearing a blue tie and a suit of lighter grey. There is a clue there somewhere for as sure as Nolan took to being interviewed on the radio last Friday, I could only compare him to the nodding dog toy normally perched in the back window of a car. Nolan was unable to show who he was only that White seemed all he wanted to be with no warts acknowledged. But any fawning Nolan with his permanently nonplussed face will prove to be good too with the knife when the time is right as he waits for leftover crumbs. But who cares for this party just needs to go.

The nodding dog analogy is in essence what the Labour party is to Fine Gael and both deserve each other and irks that neither is capable of admitting wrong. Yes, they inherited the mantle of the most corrupt party in the history of the State and have little wriggle room with the wasteland of illegal toxic debt of that inheritance. In fact we as citizens have still not seen any accountability for it and that is beyond irksome, it is maddening. Even though the Troika left on a plane does not mean they will not come back in a tank if more cuts are not met to balance their books. But it is how those cuts have been levied thus far that has shown how un- connected this Government is. On the month of their election they voted to almost double their incomes while cutting everyone else’s and gave lip service to more quangos and dodgy charities than even holy Bertie, ‘man of the people,’ Ahern.   

We are told by Government and media that the election of Sinn Fein is second to the disaster of the rise of the Independents, and is anything worse than Fianna Fail?  In fact it is Sinn Fein and Independents that show more the missing backbone at grass root and parish pump level who want to change the old boy network, it’s unaccountability, along with it's brown envelope culture; and at the very least political science and the apparatus that supports it needs to be tested to see what really works for what is there now is not working at all. 

Barry Clifford