Launched on 18 Dec 2013, this blog is about current affairs of both past and present, and about sharing your stories, photos, videos, and healthy outrage with opinions in the pursuit of positive change. To encourage it, I have posted parts of my journal of hope called Twenty-One Years that inspired this blog, along with articles, photos, and those of others. Bad news laced with poisonous and misleading stories is easily got somewhere else.
Your views are important and welcome here. Thank you.
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 wealthiestreligious 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.”
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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 consideredhe 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
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.