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Friday, October 10, 2014

Photo Minute: A Fearsome And Beautiful Sight

Intent To Kill On That Day

I2 Years ago I was driving behind a tractor on a country road in County Kerry and in no hurry but did have an appointment to keep. Giving the tractor driver a hint by keeping to the right and towards the center of the white line of the road, I figured he would ease to his left in a show of driver camaraderie to let me overtake, but instead stubbornly held to the centre of it even when the road widened and he had already passed a lay-by. Two more miles went behind us and the journey suddenly seemed laboured and claustrophobic. I switched off the radio for I needed to pay attention as I became aware that something was going very wrong here and it was more than a state of mind.

I decided to beep the feeble horn of the car. First a little bit tentatively, then a bit more assertive, with the last beep having a more plaintive edge to it. Still nothing except the steady loud rhythm of the tractors engine and the smell of cow dung blowing back at me. Each second seemed a minute but the sense that I was in danger grew and in the next seconds I would know I was.

As we approached uphill a bend in the road, the tractor driver held out a meaty hand and started to wave me around and on to pass him. This baited piece of meat was doing what it was intended to do by the moronic brain of the man that controlled it, and I seized it in a serious error of judgment. I pressed on the accelerator in a desperate bid to put this all behind me not thinking what might just be in front of me, and weaved around the creaking rust bucket mechanical dinosaur fueled by a certain desperation. Bearing down suddenly opposite me was 10,000 pounds of moving steel called a truck, driven by a kindly but shocked face. It was the end and the beginning of something that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

I pulled back and in behind the tractor within a sliver of space that defied the laws of moving parts. I shuddered to a halt as the tractor made distance in front of me and the truck I could not see anymore. Space, empty space, dotted by bleak but beautiful landscape was all around me. I was alive, I was still alive.

I stayed in the middle of the road in that car in a helpless state of euphoria for over 5 minutes knowing that I would go and see tomorrow. No other car appeared or be noticed to disrupt this altered state, a state of mind that overshadowed thoughts or actions of revenge long enough that when I went to look for the man after I came out of it, he had vanished into one of the many arteries of lesser known boreens and roads that were everywhere.

Since that time I have wondered what had possessed that man who had intent to kill on that day. It would have been the perfect crime and only he would have known the truth. Would it have served his need to lash out at the unhappiness and frustration of his own life by the sacrifice of mine. I simply will never know.

I do know I will never trust any car driver in front of me ever again about something that I cannot see with my eyes only. 

Barry Clifford     

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Fifth Biggest Landowners In Ireland

Catholic Bishop of Dromore, John Mc Areavey, has said it would be helpful if resources, ie money offered by religious orders to help pay the redress bill for survivors of institutional abuse, could be released instead to help aslyum seekers. He desribed the latter’s experience as “hugely oppressive and stressful” liking it to the childrens Industrial and reformatories prisons of the past. Of course it is always about the money, the church’s money, and one more grasp to try and claim the moral ground for their crimes against the crimes that forced aslyum seekers to come here.   

It is not a question that the church should give money to help their new public relations project, the aslum seekers, but to give a portion of money already agreed to be given to institutional victims to others is a crime against them yet again. Less is indeed more for someone else and there is nothing cheaper than free if the religious can get away with it, an ideology that has proved to be stronger than religion itself.

Let us look at what they have given over so far in the round. An average of €66,000 was paid out to Industrial/Reformatory victims and most of that  meagre compensation came from the Government and not the religious. Hence the latest compensation package that was pulled from them kicking and screaming at the injustice of it all was a hopeful €110 million. I say that word hopeful with extreme caution as it will be very doubtful that most victims will see the latest compensation monies for they are now feeble and long broken in health if not already dead from the lives they suffered under the yolk of the religious autracy that ruled the Irish State for most of its existance, and still rule the basic foundations of it today for they own most of the schools and hospitals.

An average of 11,000 people still breathe today that went through the Industrial/ Reformatory prisons run in tandem with the government and religious orders. Divided equally, €110 million would translate to €10,000 each victim. Before anyone can drill into those numbers, the middle men in Government will have taken their share, then there is the staff and expenses, and so the money evaporates into the ether quickly. It is an open secret that all the money will be gone within 3 years of Caranua’s existence, the Government body responsible for paying out compensation, at a rate of over €36 million per year. The rate of monies paid out for basic health and living needs is already starting to slow badly after just 8 months. Victims themselves had found that optimistic in any case as been victimized all their lives has long made them natural pessimistics.  

One order of nuns that parted very reluctantly monies toward its victims are the fifth biggest landowners in Ireland. They also refuse any compensation towards the Magdalene laundries, who in an ironic twist are not part of this latest compensation package. 

When will victims stop been treated like aslyum seekers as it is indeed “hugely oppressive and stressful” and not be reduced to the indignities of begging again. This condition can only be changed by selling rich assets the religious  gained with legal slavery masked by the perception of care giver. 

This is the only time and last chance for the religious to prove worthy of the vocation and vows of care giver that they once took for heaven or hell comes to us all in the end and is their only reality.

Barry Clifford  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

McNulty affair a stroke of bad luck for Government

So many great quotes this week, but the best was from one of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s handlers, who, while defending Kenny damned him with faint praise: he said the Taoiseach was busy, because he had a country to “help” run.
Given the squalid Seanad shambles over which Mr Kenny presided, we should, no doubt, be grateful he is just ‘helping out’ — imagine the chaos that would ensue if he was actually in charge? But, not to worry, here comes the new-look Labour Party, with its moral compass firmly pointed in the direction of good governance — oh, but wait, it isn’t.
Brendan Howlin came bounding out of the Coalition car crash to announce he was creating a “portal” where all the cushy State vacancies would be listed, so as to sort out all this ‘jobs for the boys stuff’ once and for all.
Ooooh, a portal, how exciting: the ‘democratic revolution’ promised by the Government is finally under way. Said portal would take us to a new frontier of openness, apparently, and the Star Trek language was especially appropriate, as it showed that Labour is still on another planet.
In this brave new world, ministers would still have the final say on who got the job, and Mr Howlin said he had no idea if even one appointment would have been different in the past three years if his fabled portal had been in place.
Mr Howlin could also see nothing wrong with junior environment minister, Paudie Coffey, employing Hilary Quinlan, a member of the Irish Water Board — a utility the Environment Department oversees — as his personal chauffeur, at a cost of €665 a week to the taxpayer.
This would make most self-respecting banana republics blush, but Mr Howlin saw no reason for Mr Quinlan to quit.
Cutting through all the crap, former FG councillor Quinlan said: “You tell me one party... who doesn’t look after their own.”
And, displaying a wonderful turn of phrase, he demanded why the media was not focusing on the economy: “We were all nearly eating out of bins three years ago,” he told the Irish Times.
Within hours, Mr Quinlan had tipped over into the bin of political history and had quit his €15,000 a year post at Irish Water.
At the same time, Mr Kenny was busy throwing yet another body from the train, in order to keep his premiership on the rails, as his Seanad nominee, John McNulty, deployed the unusual campaign slogan: ‘Don’t vote for me — I’m a bit upset’, as he effectively withdrew from the race after provoking uproar.
Back in the Dáil, Mr Kenny was performing more clumsy somersaults than an accident-prone circus acrobat: he contradicted and contorted himself in recounting the amazing coincidence of how Mr McNulty got appointed to a top-rank culture post by Arts Minister, Heather Humphreys, just six days before McNulty was nominated as Fine Gael’s candidate for the Seanad’s cultural panel. It was an increasingly bizarre account.
In a feisty performance, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: “This story is unravelling as it gets made up.”
But what is most impressive about Mr Martin’s is that he keeps a straight face while laying into Fine Gael for attempting the kind of political strokemanship that was perfected by Fianna Fáil.
As for Ms Humphreys, she is in danger of tipping over into being a farcical minister, the likes of which we have not seen since the hapless heyday of Mary Coughlan, when she occupied the role of comedic Cabinet member in the dying months of the last, disaster-laden government.
Seemingly unable to utter a coherent sentence on her role in this shabby affair, and terrified of having to answer questions on the subject, Ms Humphreys slipped out an insipid statement that still left many aspects unclear. She ended the missive pleading that she was a “new minister” and had learned many valuable lessons from the incident.
Lesson one, Heather: Think twice before accepting a Cabinet job to which you have been over-promoted, and for which you are not yet ready.
Lesson two, Heather: When you ignore lesson one and accept that Cabinet job, try not to get mixed-up in any of Mr Kenny’s clownish attempts at political manipulation.
At a gig in Dundrum, the Taoiseach’s press handlers tried to limit questions on the raging controversy to just one.
After consulting an atlas and checking that Dundrum was, indeed, still in South Dublin and not in North Korea, the Irish Examiner dared ask three more questions.
Well, two, actually, as we had to repeat the first one about the rising hostility towards Mr Kenny among his own TDs, after he did his usual trick of rambling on about something completely unrelated, in order to use up the time.
The second attempt at least elicited a meandering metaphor about Fine Gael being a team and needing to pull together to win the championships, but when we pointed out that many people on his team did not want him to be captain anymore, Mr Kenny made an obscure reference to hurling and the whole thing was shut down immediately.
So much for the new era of transparency and openness.
The final score is that most people do not believe Mr Kenny on McNultygate — not even a majority of his own TDs — and that is a very dangerous position for a Taoiseach.
And returning to Enda’s sporting theme: well done to captain Kenny for turning an open goal into an own goal.
In yet another twist, Mr McNulty actually winning the tainted election, and then resigning, could yet be the climax for this three-act political farce.
But why did Labour leader Joan Burton not blow the whistle on this sorry mess when she had the chance? Labour could have got out ahead of the curve, insisted it would not stand over this, and carved out new ground for itself as the watch-dogs of the public good. Instead, Labour showed it learned nothing from its shameful silence during Shattergate, and the much-hyped changeover from Eamon Gilmore to Burton merely means the party has gone from being the lapdog that didn’t bark to the poodle that didn’t even whimper.

Shaun Connelly

"...rely on God and kill him in any manner."

So far ISIL have proved little in their struggle in trying to create ultra Islamic Statelets, and overall it is a struggle they are bound to lose not least by studying the lessons of the past within the theatre of war, any kind of war.

ISIL might be good with computer marketing with a few bearded and ugly rabble rousers on the ground who cant get a girl without raping her first while stalking the streets of Birmingham and elsewhere trying to stir up hate, but that is about as much as they can do. Their other marketing strategies are already proving that they are doomed to failure starting with the beheadings of innocent people and have proved to be a very good recruiting poster for their perceived enemies. Their enemies are growing fast who will not be halted or slowed by the ugly spectacle of those beheadings whose soul intent is to instill fear. In the theatre of war it is just another day and their violence must and will be met with its equal.

It was June of this year when this gang of murderers first became global in the eyes of the western world. Their mantra is simply this: “if you can kill a disbelieving American or European-especially the spiteful and filthy French-or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined against the Islamic State, then rely on God and kill him in any manner.” This bit of Islamic rhetoric is from their spokesman, Abu Mohammed Ad-Adrani, calling on supporters to attack foreigners wherever they are and that means even in their own country.
Most of the more prominent rabble rousers also seem to have inserted the name of ‘Mohammed into their own name.

The reality is ISIL does not have a State but want to make the world an Islamic one. Like the Nazis before them, the Japanese, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin, Stalin, and more within a very large historical narrative, their time was also brief and could never endure.

“To rule by fear…”, so succinctly put by Winston Churchill, “…is like riding an angry tiger while hoping you will not fall off his back, and the tiger is getting very hungry.” And that is a history that has always repeated itself.  

We are a fragile species engineered with a primitive instinct, and whether you have a mortgage to pay or live in the hills of Syria, under fire we become the same; whether we fight or die is measured by how much we fought to preserve what we believe to be ours and that of future generations.

This latest war will be fought exactly the same way as all others, and how it is fought is of little matter as long as it is won.

Barry Clifford