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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Domestic violence refuge planned for Magdalen convent in Galway

Patricia Burke Brogan says ‘memory of those who suffered’ in former laundry must ‘never be forgotten’

Patricia Burke Brogan at the sculpture by Mick Wilkins to the Magdalene women at Forster Street in Galway city early last year. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

 Patricia Burke Brogan didn’t expect to be on any invitation list during the Taoiseach’s speedy sprint around Galway 10 days ago. With school-opening, job-announcing and protest-dodging to choose from, she might have counted herself lucky to have been spared a piece of his packed itinerary.

Still, there were those who anticipated her presence at a very special occasion, when Enda Kenny took pause at 47 Forster Street to plant a silver birch tree. Just over 18 months earlier, he had apologised on behalf of the State for what had happened there and at other locations where young pregnant women and single mothers had led harrowing lives.
“And it’s still in the memory of that very earth,” Burke Brogan says of the suffering endured in the Magdalen laundry beside the Sisters of Mercy convent house, which is to be converted into a refuge for victims of domestic violence.

The Mercy order agreed last year to a 99-year lease on the Forster Street premises, and Kenny’s visit endorsed the Cope Galway agency’s plan for same.
Burke Brogan still remembers the “whiff of Eau de Parfum when, as a young novitiate in black habit, coif and veil, she was ordered to kiss the ruby-ringed hand of her mother superior before being assigned laundry duty.

It was a contrast to the very different smells that almost overwhelmed her when she arrived at Forster Street – the stenches of bleach fumes and dirty clothing and steam from “sweating” walls.

The young Clare woman, who had been based with the order across town, had been teaching up until then. The laundry was to be her summer job. As she has written in her recently published autobiography, Memoirs with Grykes and Turloughs, she was told that she was coming to “the richest branch house”.

An Evie Hone stained-glass depiction of Mary Magdalen and a tall chimney belching black smoke were images imprinted on Burke Brogan’s memory as she arrived. She was led through a series of heavy doors with double locks and bolts to a room with prison bars where “elderly women, middle-aged women and young girls” merged with “the grey of womb-like washing machines”.

Her subsequent experience is reflected in her award-winning play, Eclipsed, which she wrote after she left the convent. The laundry was demolished and was replaced by a building that housed Anglo-Irish Bank.

Thanks to Burke Brogan’s lobbying, and that of several fellow residents, a sculpture by Mick Wilkins dedicated to the Magdalen women was unveiled on the site in 2009. She received threats to her personal safety for her efforts.
One nun who had been a novice with her crossed the street when she saw her coming. Yet Burke Brogan still has friends in the order and has distanced herself from attempts to demonise the nuns, given that, as she has pointed out, “families knew and the State let it all happen”.

That’s why she is delighted now about the Cope plan for the domestic violence refuge, as long as, she says, “the memory of those who suffered there” is “never forgotten”.
The homeless agency’s chief executive Jacquie Horan had spent five years looking for a suitable premises when she eventually received the offer from the Mercy sisters. Cope’s existing building at Waterside House in Galway is one of 19 refuges for women and children across the State, and it is the only one open on a 24-hour basis in the western region.
Since a fire at Waterside over three years ago, its six bedsit-type accommodation units have had no proper cooking facilities. Last year, it had to turn away 574 requests for emergency accommodation, due to lack of space.

“Domestic” and “violence” are two words that “don’t belong together”, Kenny said on his visit to Forster Street, where he welcomed Cope’s plan.
That plan aims to convert the religious premises into nine self-contained one-, two- and three-bedroom units, which can be shared if necessary. The new refuge will also include a childcare unit for a range of age groups, and indoor and outdoor play areas.

It is expected to cost €2.5 million, of which some €1.16 million is being provided by the Department of the Environment. The balance will have to be raised in a dedicated fundraising campaign. Appealing to the people of Galway for their support, Kenny remembered “all who have suffered injury, loss, hope, even life itself, because of violence committed behind closed doors”.
“You open doors to refuge, safety, essential services,” Kenny said, of Cope’s volunteers, “but above all, you offer, and give, and are, the refuge of the human heart.”

By Lorna Siggins

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Man In The Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat

Theodore Roosevelt from a speech he gave in 1912

Ireland: Nil By Mouth

Politics can be likened to a hospital and taking the pulse of a patient is where the politician plays doctor and the ’citizen’ is the patient. In this case, Ireland. Figuring out the right temperature, the applicable medicines needed, is the key to keeping the patient alive just enough that he or she considers the doctor an extended member of the family, a friend, someone to lean on. At the end of the patients bed lies a chart, a history of ailments and complaints, that is indicative of the offending condition that the patient thinks he is suffering from. Also there was a sign over his bed: Ireland- Nil By Mouth

Passive medicines labeled appeasement, and meant only in small doses, and a large dose of placebos is the order of the day and the patient wonders endlessly will he ever get better, but does not blame the doctor, after all he knows best. Then one day, unknown to the doctor, the patient forgets his medicine. Not wanting to upset the doctor, he keeps this information to himself. The next day, for the first time in years he actually felt better. This was of great interest to him.

Another day passed, and he did not take his medications and felt even better yet again. For the first time he questioned what was going on, and like before, these questions were asked only of himself, that decided finally he would not take his medicines at all this week, or the next. Later too, the doctor became alarmed for even he could see the patient was actually getting better.

An epiphany of sorts had happened for the patient that would change him for good. Lying on his back, he looked back at the trail of tears that had brought him to his awareness: the lies wrapped up in double speak, the patronizing sound-bites sealed with a kiss and the promise that his condition would improve. But many things had already happened and seemingly irreversible ones while he had been in his long comatose state. Bad things.

He remembered just to get treatment in the first place, he was told it was a matter of life and death and that had to sign a waiver besides, that should it be the latter, the hospital or the doctor would not be at fault. So he hurriedly signed papers without his glasses on that gave power of attorney to his doctor and the hospital as well, that was also a promissory to a debt that he had no hope of paying off, not in his lifetime anyway or that of his grandchildren. It was a debt, give or take a billion or two, for over €75 billion.

When the mists cleared from his memory as he fluffed up his pillow, he had much time already to digest, and after many hospital dinners, that he would be charged for just living at his own property and this one too, and now over the flickering images on a cheap TV above his bed, he learnt they were now going to charge him for his drinking water, just after it seemed that they had taken everything else. Yes, he felt like a fool and bad when he thought too much. He was now thinking about thinking.

Yes, he thought in his thinking,  I have suffered a thousand surgical cuts, so finely sharpened and balanced that I did not know that it was happening. All that I thought I owned is owned by another, even my soul is a matter of state, for even there they will take such a fee for the little I will leave behind that it would indebt my children even further. What can I do.  I must do something but what is it……?

To be continued..............

By Barry Clifford

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Is There Life After Death?

We have all wondered what it is like to die. Resuscitation medicine can now revive people who have been clinically dead for hours, and some revived people tell riveting stories about the experience of dying and being dead. This opens up the opportunity to scientifically 

We often hear of near -death experiences and out-of-body experiences, purportedly experienced by people while clinically dead but who later recovered. Near-death experience accounts typically include an awareness of being dead, a sense of peace, passing through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, encountering a “being of light” and feeling unconditionally loved, reviewing one’s life and deciding to return to the body. Science strongly suspects that near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences are hallucinations, occurring either before the heart stops or after it has been restarted

Dr Sam Parnia, director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University, New York, illustrates the current state of resuscitation medicine with the following amazing story. A 30-year-old woman was found dead in a forest at 8.32am, in June 2011. Her body temperature had dropped from 37 degrees to 20, indicating she had been dead for several hours. An ambulance team administered CPR and defibrillation at 8.49am and she arrived in hospital at 9.22am, body temperature still 20 degrees, still dead.

CPR and chest compressions were continued, a breathing tube ventilated her lungs and her tissues were given optimal oxygen supply. Adrenalin and other drugs were used to restart her heart. Her temperature remained unchanged. After six hours, her temperature returned to 32 degrees and her heart restarted. Despite being dead for five to 10 hours overnight, and dead six hours in the hospital, she walked out of hospital three weeks later with no brain or organ damage.

Oxygenated blood
You are declared clinically dead when your heart stops beating. Measurable brain activity shuts down within 40 seconds. Your body cells do not die immediately on your heart failing to supply them with oxygenated blood. Parnia estimates that bone cells can survive for four days, skin cells for one, and brain cells can remain viable but non-functioning for up to eight hours. Cooling the dead body slows cell deterioration, allowing physicians to safely reverse the cellular processes that occur and avoiding brain damage.

Resuscitation medicine now makes objective studies of near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences possible. A large-scale study called Aware (awareness during resuscitation), involving 2,060 patients who suffered cardiac arrest (330 survived), was launched in 2008, with Parnia as lead investigator. A range of mental experiences in relation to death were tested for validity using objective markers to determine if near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences are real or hallucinatory. The results were published online in the journal Resuscitation in October.

Thirty-nine per cent of patients who survived described awareness, but not explicit recall of events, while they were clinically dead. Twenty per cent said they felt unusually peaceful. Some saw a bright light, others felt fearful or felt they were drowning. Thirteen per cent felt separated from their bodies and 13 per cent said their senses were heightened. Nine per cent had experiences compatible with near-death experiences. Only 2 per cent reported out-of-body experiences: that is, full awareness, with recall of seeing and hearing events. One man recalled leaving his body and watching from the corner of the room for several minutes as the medical staff worked to resuscitate him, accurately recounting their actions. These experiences were apparently recorded during a period when he had neither a heartbeat nor brain activity.

Although this study indicates that awareness may persist after the brain has shut down, it neither proves nor disproves the reality or meaning of the patients’ claims of awareness.
The out-of-body incident is interesting but far short of convincing; the recollections could be memories of a TV documentary, for example, seen by the patient when he was hale and hearty. Much more tightly controlled research is needed.
Watertight demonstrations of out-of-body experiences, should they ever come, indicating that consciousness can exist independently of a functioning brain, would certainly put the non-material cat among the material pigeons.

By William Reville is an Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at UCC.

Protests are a new type of active citizenship politics here

The water charges protests are unlikely to go away because they’re about much more than water charges, writes Dr Rory Hearne

The Government parties are just not getting it. They think if they reduce the water charges to a modest fee then the people will back down and allow the Government get back to business as usual.
The reality is that opposition to the water charges is going to continue; the December 10 protest is likely to be another large event and, ultimately, a majority will not pay the charge.
People believe water is a human right and should not be turned into a commodity to be profited from. They believe that if charges are introduced they are likely to grow significantly, just as bin charges did. And Irish Water will be privatised, just like the bin collection services.
But there are two fundamental reasons why the movement will grow and force the Government to suspend the introduction of water charges.
Firstly, it is because the majority of people, particularly lower income and poor households, are devastated by the cumulative impact of austerity and the absence of any ‘recovery’.
The recent Unicef report shows, for example, that the child poverty rate in Ireland rose from 18% in 2008 to 28.6% in 2012. So now, more than one in every four children living in this country are in poverty. Unemployment remains extremely high at 10%, while youth unemployment is 27%. Parts of Limerick, Cork, and Dublin have unemployment rates of over 30% and some even as high as 55%. A majority earn very low incomes and we have the second highest proportion of low-wage workers in the OECD.
Analysis by NERI shows that just over 50% of income tax cases (earners) had a gross income of less than €30,000 per annum. The top 5% of income cases had a gross income in excess of €100,000 and 1% had an income in excess of €200,000. ESRI figures show that the top 30% have 51.6% of income, while the bottom 30% get a mere 14%.
So, despite the claims that all suffered equally during the crisis, the reality is that inequality in Ireland has worsened. It is the fact of not being able to afford any more austerity, combined with a sense of injustice at an increasingly unfair society, that has enraged people.
The second reason why the water protests are going to continue is that they are the culmination of many different protests over the last few years that have been ignored or downplayed by media commentators, establishment political parties, and academics. Despite the portrayal of general passivity, the truth is that the Irish people did protest austerity. More than 100,000 participated in an ICTU-organised march in February 2009 and 150,000 attended in November 2010 against the imminent troika bailout. However, the marches ended and people went home feeling powerless as Fianna Fáil told them that the crisis was their fault as they had “partied too hard” during the boom. But the sense of injustice grew as that government acquiesced to the ECB’s demands not to burn the bondholders and to lump the Irish people with €64bn of bankers’ and developers’ gambling debts through Nama, bank recapitalisation, and the Anglo debt.
People expressed their anger in the ballot box in February 2011 by decimating Fianna Fáil and electing Labour and Fine Gael on the promise of “mending the pieces of a fractured society, a broken economy, and to provide a sense of collective hope in our shared future”.
But the promises were reneged upon. The large trade unions in ICTU decided not to protest as they were supporting Labour in government and, in this vacuum, small grassroots protests emerged. These included the Ballyhea Says No to Bondholder Bailout weekly march in Cork; disadvantaged communities who were being decimated disproportionally from the cuts in Dublin; and local hospital protests in Waterford and Galway. There were disability groups, youth groups such as We’re Not Leaving, lone parents, special needs assistants, and the successful protests against plans to sell off the national forests.
April 2012 saw the largest protest, and the foundations for the water charges campaign, when half the population refused to pay the household charge. The socialists, independents, and community groups led the campaign despite huge media vilification.
Indeed, by September 2012, there was still a 40% non-payment rate nationally. The transfer of power to the Revenue Commissioners to collect the charge meant the campaign was defeated as people had no choice but to pay it.
In February 2013, ICTU organised its only protest against the current Government. A reported 100,000 marched across the country against the annual repayment of €3.1bn of the €25bn Anglo debt. The annual payment was stopped but the €25bn debt remains and the Central Bank is in the process of converting it into national debt. This will add to the €8bn of public funds that will flow out of this country in annual interest repayments on government debt, at least €2bn of which is bank-related.
In this context, last year’s Anglo Tapes added to people’s growing sense of injustice. The people were taking all the pain while being made fools of, and the banking and political elite remained protected.
So it is clear that the water charges protests didn’t suddenly emerge out of nowhere. They came from the small left-wing groups, communities, anti-partnership trade unions, and individuals who have been protesting and organising at grassroots level for years with little recognition from the media or political establishment. They were wrongly ignored and written off.
They also come from a fracturing of the social contract that has underpinned the Republic since its foundation. The protests are a new type of active citizenship politics in Ireland. The Irish are turning to a more European-style citizenship, or social movements. This involves regular protests that express a refusal to accept injustices and new forms of democratic self-empowerment. It is a logical response when the system fails you. Protests, as the water charges movement shows, are a way of influencing political systems without having to wait for elections. It can be even more effective than voting as it is a direct and immediate way of changing policies. And that’s why the political establishment detests them and tries to ignore or repress.
The water protests are about much, much more than water charges. They are the people’s expression of their pain and anger from the disproportionate and devastating impact of austerity, the injustice of the socialisation of the banking debts, growing inequality and a belief that they have the power to stop this. It has echoes of moments in history when ordinary people have stepped on to the political stage and forced an end to corrupt and failing orders that each establishment believed would never change.
We could be witnessing the Irish Occupy, the Irish ‘Spring’, or crumbling of the Berlin Wall. Perhaps it is completing the unfinished social and political revolution from 1916. The centenary commemorations could be very interesting indeed.

By Dr Rory Hearne who is a lecturer with the Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences at Maynooth University

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Common Sense Shopping And Sourcing


              1 Plan ahead: Work out what you’re going to eat and what you need to buy. Make lists and stick to them.
               2 Cook a little less food and use communal serving bowls a little more more: you’ll be amazed at the impact on your budget.

              3 Keep your eyes peeled for special offers and relevant coupons. Do not buy perishables in bulk unless you can freeze them.

              4 Make the switch to own-brand products – at least for some of your weekly shop.

               5 Speciality stores will help you cut costs. Local greengrocers and butchers are often better value.

               Tips On Health Plans
              VHI’s costs €1,123 per adult 
             Laya costs €1,144 per adult. 
             Aviva Health’s Plan  is €1,137 per adult 

             Glo Better Plan Excess cash is €1,144 per adult. 

Check out websites devoted to health insurance, as you will be spoilt for choice and there are big savings. Split cover for children on best plan as you don't all have to stay with the one company or plan.


               Make the call: If you don’t ask for a discount, a company is never going to offer it to you.

               Websites frequently offer better value. They may not always do so, however, and when it comes to complex policies such as life assurance it may be better to speak to an actual broker.

               Excesses can save you money, particularly when it comes to car insurance.

               Never lie to an insurance company. If you do, you may save money but you could invalidate your policy.

               Actually, lie about one thing. Tell your insurer you have shopped around and plan to take your business elsewhere. See what they come back with.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Video: A Dad signing - I loved her first (1/2 min to load)

“Found this gem of a video somewhere on the net: “At my wedding reception, my dad surprises me by signing a beautiful song. I am a sign language interpreter so this meant the world to me. He said it took him the entire year I was engaged to learn how to sign this song.”

By his daughter

Melancholy, the source of our depression in 1621

Melancholy, the subject of our present discourse, is either in Melancholy, the source of our depression. is either in indisposition or in habit. In disposition, is that transitory Melancholy which goes and comes upon every small occasion of sorrow, need, sickness, trouble, fear, grief, passion, or perturbation of the mind, any manner of care, discontent, or thought, which causes anguish, dullness, heaviness and vexation of spirit, any ways opposite to pleasure, mirth, joy, delight, causing forwardness in us, or a dislike. In which equivocal and improper sense, we call him melancholy, that is dull, sad, sour, lumpish, ill-disposed, solitary, any way moved, or displeased. And from these melancholy dispositions no man living is free, no Stoick, none so wise, none so happy, none so patient, so generous, so godly, so divine, that can vindicate himself; so well-composed, but more or less, some time or other, he feels the smart of it. Melancholy in this sense is the character of Mortality... This Melancholy of which we are to treat, is a habit, a serious ailment, a settled humour as Aurelianus and others call it, not errant, but fixed: and as it was long increasing, so, now being (pleasant or painful) grown to a habit, it will hardly be removed.

From The Anatomy Of Melancholy by Robert Burton. Published in1621

It’s high time we took the politics out of our policing

                                                                 Maurice meets Enda

 ALAN Shatter would ruefully appreciate the findings of the Garda Inspectorate report into crime. The case over which Shatter ultimately resigned as minister for justice illustrates perfectly one of the main themes running through the inspectorate’s report.
In January 2012, Sgt Maurice McCabe made a confidential complaint about then Garda commissioner Martin Callinan. McCabe’s beef was that the commissioner was about to promote a superintendent, whom, McCabe alleged, had, as district officer in Bailieboro, Co Cavan, been negligent in a whole range of serious criminal investigations. McCabe cited the 12 most serious cases in his complaint.
Shatter dealt with the matter by referring it to the commissioner, a course of action criticised in the Geurin report.
The main issue, however, is that the commissioner was apparently intent on promoting the superintendent — referred to in Guerin as Foxtrot — irrespective of his record. It didn’t matter that the station sergeant had compiled a list of up to 40 cases that reflected badly on Foxtrot’s management. It didn’t matter that an investigation by an assistant commissioner had upheld some of the less serious complaints. (The most serious would all be fully endorsed by Guerin, who vindicated McCabe’s judgement entirely.)
All that mattered was Foxtrot’s time had come. He had served as a Super for four years. He was, by all accounts, “a decent man”. Some within HQ might even have felt sympathy for him, for having his work subjected to scrutiny by a “whistleblower” within the force.
Even after the complaint in January 2012, channelled through the minister for justice, no pause for consideration was given. Foxtrot was promoted within weeks. Another member of the club getting a leg-up to a higher salary, a better pension, a little more status. Neither the standard of work and supervision he had done, nor the appalling public service dished out to some victims of crime during his tenure, held any sway. That was stuff to be quietly brushed under the carpet, while pursuing the greater goal of “doing right by one of our own”.
Foxtrot’s experience was not unique. Another senior officer, now retired, was given a promotion in his last year of service, despite being seriously criticised by a High Court judge in the preceding months. All that apparently mattered was the man in question would be in line for a better pension if promoted, and so he was.
One of the main issues that informed McCabe’s complaints was a lack of engagement with the day-to-day policing by Superintendent Foxtrot. The Inspectorate’s conclusions of general policing concurred.
“While many senior gardai stated that they have an ‘open door policy’, it was highlighted (by rank and file members) that very few step outside of that door and engage with their staff.”
This paucity of leadership is key to the failings highlighted by the Inspectorate. What emerges from the report is a picture in which superintendents are absent, for one reason or another, from the frontline, leading inevitably to a serious deficit in standards and discipline. Even those Supers who rail against the moribund culture at senior level are tied up with administration and being redeployed from the frontline for a whole range of other functions.
And what if a superintendent brought to the attention of senior management structural problems? Would it affect his or her career, their status within the club? Would he be regarded, as Sgt McCabe was, with suspicion rather than welcomed for enunciating fresh ideas? Little wonder then that there is virtually never a breaking of the ranks once officers have begun to rise through the ranks.
Another crucial issue raised also echoes with what happened in Bailieboro. In the focused career ladder climbing there is a “churn” of superintendents in many districts. Again, this practice cuts through the type of continuity that basic leadership requires.
The Morris Tribunal identified this shortcoming in Donegal, and recommended that superintendents spend at least two years at a posting. Yet Guerin highlighted that over the course of McCabe’s less than four years as station sergeant in Bailieboro, he served under five superintendents. (The first four were all fulsome in their praise to Geurin of McCabe’s professionalism.)
The Inspectorate identified the problems associated with churning, and pointed out that many superintendents travel long distances to work, rather than relocate to their new district.
Among the recommendation are to “introduce minimum term tenure for chief superintendents and superintendents” and “Develop a new approach to the posting and deployment of superintendents and other supervisors”. If such measures had been implemented post Morris, things would hardly be as bad as they have been exposed in this week’s report.
A leadership deficit isn’t confined to the force. One of the more shocking findings of the Inspectorate is the lack of basic training. The bulk of all garda recruits since 2005 — numbering 5,000 in total — have not received training in basic interviewing techniques, while a third of detectives are not properly trained.
This is a direct legacy of the “auction” politics of law and order exhibited by government and opposition during the bubble years. It was all about the number of recruits, and to hell with the quality. If the government said garda numbers would be raised to 12,000, the opposition would demand 13,000 and so on.
All that mattered was what could be put on an election poster to simply illustrate a commitment to “fighting crime”. No consideration was given for the implications of shoving increased numbers into Templemore without corresponding enhanced training facilities and personnel.
The disregard for proper training was best illustrated by the then minister for justice Michael McDowell, who wanted one in every four gardai to be a “reserve”, or part-time, hobby bobby. Sure, anybody can do this policing lark, just throw on a hat and a badge and off you go.
The complete lack of leadership, both within the force and from its political masters, has been key to the failings highlighted this week. A new police authority is expected to take the politics out of policing, but we’ll have to wait and see whether that expectation will be properly met. An even bigger pointer is who will be tasked with pulling the force free from the nefarious elements of its culture.

The choice of new commissioner of the force will tell a lot

By Michael Clifford

Photo Minute: This is England (Click on photos for best results)

" ...the more you shoot, the better I will like you."

“If  a police barracks is burned, or if the barracks occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to he commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them did there, the more the merrier. Should the order ‘hands up’ not be immediatey obeyed- shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching a patrol carry their hands in their pockets, or is in any way suspicious looking, shoot them down. You make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, and that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties sometime. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into any trouble for shoooting anyone.”
Lt Col Smyth in June 1920 addressing auxiliaries on policing matters in Galway.

Shoot to kill- a four hour documentary in 1990 about the police in Nothern Ireland, established there was a shoot to kill policy all through the conflict. In the words of the director of this program,” All of the people we would have wanted to interview were either dead- in that they were shot by the RUC by 1982- or they had disappered and were given new indentities. Or they were still serving poicemen and weren’t available for interview.

What these incidents display if nothing else, that there was never a police force in Northern Ireland, and I strongly suggest there is still none on either side of the border today. What you do have is a mercenary force loyal only to each other first and last, unless they were not able to get their hands out of the cookie jar in front a crowd of ‘citizens’ with camera phones. Its not even a sure thing then. 

“But man proud man, dressed up in a little brief authority, is most ignorant of what he’s most assured. His glassy essence, like an angry ape, plays tricks before high heaven that would make the angels weep.” Shakespeare, with that little ditty, explained that he saw it the same way too.

That is also how the old IRA and the new IRA saw it. Who were they supposed to go to with allegations of rape against their members? In their existence since 1916 over 150,000 children were imprisoned in gulags acroos this small island, and in proportion to their numbers, the same applied to the north. Rape and abuse was endemic in these places, yet it was the police again that helped cover it up. This is not mud slinging, the real stuff is in the reading of the reports on institutional abuse. And the police are still doing it.

In the latest report damming the police, it would have been easy just to classify them all as a bit thick, and indeed many of them are. ‘Never went beyond the cross roads’ and all that while making love to their wife's with their wellies on. Humour aside, the other reality is that just one policeman alone air brushed out a whole series of rape and sexual assault cases committed over a 14 year period. The few sex crimes that were investigated were by cops barely old enough to vote and would have not been allowed into many night clubs by their impish appearance. Rumour has it that some had not reached puberty either, at least in a mental sense. 

The usual ‘files have gone missing or were burnt’ tactics were employed in this latest but historical cover up that is also current. 59 cases took over a week just to enter into a police computer system called the PULSE, except that it had no pulse, pardon the pun.  Domestic violence were classed as the ‘non-crime’ category, and if you did nothing wrong you might as well have done something because you were going to get your pulse taken whether you liked it or not.

Of course any computer system is only as good by the information you put into it, and the investigation into the boys in blue, who should by all account be wearing grey with black striped pyjamas by now, also found widespread falsification of reports by superintendent's and district officers up an down this green land.

The other facts are this: Maria Cahill went to the same police on both sides of the murder, and is it any wonder then that she believes wronged against, and the reasons why are more obvious now and clear cut. One way or the other, the man that stood accused of her alleged rape was acquitted by what passed as a court without a kangaroo in sight, and if a few marsupials from the Macropodidae family were invited around the round table to find out what really happened to Maria, then it might have been a very different outcome.

Barry Clifford