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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Photo Minute: President John F Kennedy in Galway City (1963) In original colour photos

                                                                           Shop St

                                                                      Eyre Square
                                                A View From The Odeon Hotel In Eyre Square

Entertaining the president in Eyre Square
                                                                       Henry St

Eye-Witnesses to History
On Saturday 29 June, 1963, thousands descended on Galway to catch a glimpse of President Kennedy. Many Galwegians have clear memories of the day:
"But certainly I mean he’s the proudest son I suppose Ireland ever had." 

Seán Mac Giollarnaith
"It was kinda like the Pope coming, and maybe even more important. I seen him at the top of Dominick Street … My father shook hands with him … I remember my father always; it was kind of a boast of his that he shook hands with President Kennedy." 

Tommy Houlihan
"I was kind of nearest to the helicopter and I actually got to shake his hand and I remember thinking I’m never going to wash my hand again. But it was just great excitement and it was wonderful to be part of it." 

Ann Melia
"There was a great big atmosphere. Of course he had the people eating out of his hand, this was the Irish guy who made good, he was our man, the boss man of the United States." 

Seán Mac Giollarnaith
"There was so many people pushing and shoving to shake his hand. It was just incredible. It was kind of frightening for a child. I don’t know did I want to be there." 

Tommy Houlihan
"It was probably one of the greatest things ever happened in Galway, certainly in my lifetime and I’m almost 60 years of age now." 

Seán Mac Giollarnaith
"When the day came we went up to the top windows and I was afraid to use a camera … in case the security men … might think it was some sort of a bang bang." 

Helen Spellman

"I must say marvellous memories and the fact that I can always boast and say yeah, was there, shook hands with him … it’s a memory I won’t ever forget like, as I say, until the day I die."

Photo Minute: Galway County- A long time ago in original colour (19013-1930)

                                                            Spanish Arch  1913
                                                                Spanish Arch    1913
                                                             Connemara    1920
                                                           Claddagh 1913
                                                                      Spiddal 1913
                                                                        Connemara 1913
                                                                 Galway City 1930
                                                                    Galway City 1930

Photo Minute: Through the looking glass

We all had the economic blinkers on

                                                            David Mc Williams

Pat Rabbitte had a serious cut at RTÉ in the Dáil, accusing the broadcaster of bias in covering the water-charges protest. “RTÉ has acted as a recruiting sergeant for those who have taken control of, and are manipulating, the water protests,” he said.

His Labour party colleague, councillor Dermot Lacey, has lodged a similar complaint of bias against The Marian Finucane Show.

But the protestors are claiming the bias is in the opposite direction. They regard the fourth estate as a fifth column for the Government.

It was always thus. In times of political conflict or controversy, those under pressure view the messenger as the problem.

In the Dáil, on Wednesday, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald described Rabbitte’s comments as “bizarre”. Many in McDonald’s party are hopping mad at the media for asking questions about the cover-up of child sex abuse. Different issue, same old story.

The media was also under the cosh in another corner of Leinster House, where the Oireachtas banking inquiry was in session. The committee was inquiring into the role of the media in the property bubble and banking collapse. The media fell victim to the group-think that infected all levels of society through the years of property madness, but to what extent, and for what reasons, remain issues of debate.

The notion of ‘the media’ as some homogenous beast that takes a line and follows it like a political party, for instance, is complete garbage. But in covering the property bubble, the fourth estate collectively failed to bark at a crucial time in history.

Finding out why was never going to be easy, but the inquiry got off to a pretty poor start on Wednesday. Before newspaper editors, including the Irish Examiner’s Tim Vaughan, the first witness was an academic chap, Julien Mercille.

Dr Mercille lectures in the department of geography in UCD and is the holder of a Phd on ‘the political economy’. He has written academic publications on matters such as the war on drugs, but he is not a media academic, and has never worked in the Irish media. He has penned a book based on the newspapers’ coverage of the property boom and bust.

The thesis of his book is that the media is largely a tool of “the elites” and reflects their views at the cost of telling “the truth” or catering for “ordinary people”. It’s not clear whom exactly the elites are, but it’s safe to say Dr Mercille does not include among them highly-educated, well-paid and pensioned academics. Those souls are far more likely to be “ordinary people”, in search of “the truth”, whatever that is in a political context.

Dr Mercille’s thesis on the media derives as much from his political perspective as from any neutral examination of the function and performance of newspapers. His columns and media appearances suggest his politics chimes with that of the so-called far left, although Dr Mercille told the inquiry he would consider himself “progressive”, rather than left- or right-wing.
There’s nothing wrong with any of that. Diversity of opinion is a positive feature of public life. What is baffling is why an important Oireachtas inquiry, on a very tight schedule, found it useful to hear about the media from a man who could not be described as either a practitioner or an expert. Perhaps the politicians thought this passed for the ‘balance’ they habitually contend is lacking in coverage of their affairs.

For what it’s worth, the useful idiot writing this column has an opinion on the failings of the media during those illusory halcyon days. Most who work in the media were caught up in the national mood that believed the country had stumbled on a magic formula.
Critical faculties were somewhat suspended. I, among many others, frequently wrote of the distasteful aspects to the bling and greed of the times, but not for a minute did I think it was all based on sand, because, like everybody else, I relied on the experts who told us the job was Oxo.

It’s notable that the two figures who are frequently cited as offering the contrarian view at the time — Morgan Kelly and David McWilliams — are economists, not journalists.
One accusation that could be levelled at the media is that it took as gospel the forecasts of economists who worked for financial institutions, but, then again, plenty of other experts agreed with their outlook.

What is worrying is that the group-think of the times still persists on some issues. One example is coverage of evidence at the banking inquiry.

When an American banking academic, Bill Black, told the inquiry that the 2008 bank guarentee was “the worst decision in history”, his words featured in numerous headlines.

He was feted throughout the media. This guy was telling us exactly what most people still want to hear. If it wasn’t for that goddamn guarentee, we would have been sorted.

This notion is also frequently peddled by both Government and most of the opposition.
Strangely enough, when another authority on banking featured at the inquiry, some of his home truths were quietly brushed over by the media. Earlier this month, Central Bank governor, Patrick Honohan, told the inquiry that any alternative to the guarantee could have reduced austerity “somewhat, but not all that much”.

He also suggested that the arrival of the Troika here actually lessened austerity, rather than increased it.

This is the kind of stuff that most people don’t want to hear. The general narrative that is peddled is that without the guarentee or the strictures imposed by the Troika, most of the pain could have been avoided.

The excesses and recklessness of the years spanning 2002 and 2007 could have been simply wiped clean.

There is certainly a case that austerity was imposed in a way that impacted hugely disproportionately on those at the lower ends of the socio-economic ladder, and that many at the top have skipped free. But the idea that two decisions — the guarentee and the arrival of the Troika — are at the root of our ills does not add up. It’s nice and simple, though. It provides a focus for understandable anger among the public. The body politic, apart from Fianna Fail, which can’t wash its hands of those decisions, happily feeds into that line also.

Michael Clifford

Abuse survivors divided over records plan

    The late Mary Raftery described Ryan report as ‘a monument to a society’s shame’

Documenting harrowing experiences has been a feature of a variety of inquiries in recent years, including the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the report of which was published in 2009.
At the time of its publication, it was described by the late journalist Mary Raftery, who had done so much to highlight historic institutional abuse, as “a monument to a society’s shame”.
While Raftery identified some weaknesses in the report and argued its recommendations were too vague, she suggested what it had done “with great thoroughness, is to give us a compelling vision of the hell to which so many children were consigned”.
That “compelling vision” could not have been presented without the power of personal testimony. In providing such an overwhelming body of evidence about what went on in residential institutions, the report provided a corrective to the atmosphere of secrecy and denial that surrounded these experiences for so many years and invaluable information on attitudes to child welfare.
This could not have been done without the voices of the victims.
When giving evidence before the commission in September 2005, one of the Christian Brothers leaders, Brother Michael Reynolds, said: “I have one group of people saying there was a lot of corporal punishment and I have documentation saying there wasn’t.”
It was a simple reminder that those seeking answers as to why and how abuse occurred needed to be mindful of the limitations of archives; they will not always contain the answers that are being sought, and even if archival material can tell us what happened, it will rarely tell us what it felt like.
The question of access to documentation has been central to the complaints of abuse survivors and is a central issue for historians and others seeking to find the truth of what went on.

Many of the assertions made at the public hearings were based on the documentation available to the religious orders, which at times, like many administrative records, is cursory and formulaic.
The gulf between the officially documented version of events in institutions and the experiences of those who lived through them could not be addressed without personal testimony, but this also raised the question of what would happen to that testimony when the inquiry was finished.
The destruction of this testimony has been mooted at different stages, but it has now been reported that the Cabinet has approved the drafting of a Bill to transfer the records of the commission and the Residential Institutions Redress Board set up in 2002 to compensate those abused in the institutions, to the National Archives, where they will be sealed for 75 years.

Internationally, it is not unusual for material regarded as sensitive to be sealed for such a period, to protect personal privacy and ensure it is not released during the lifetime of those it refers to.
However, the decision to follow this practice in relation to the Irish child abuse records has divided the groups representing victims, indicating the issue is fraught and raw.

Legal action
Tom Cronin of Irish Survivors of Institutional Abuse expressed dismay that the material would be sealed for so long and that there might be an unwitting frustration of possible future legal action by survivors, while the Aislinn group has also been scathing, suggesting the move perpetuates the original abuse.

In contrast, Maeve Lewis of One in Four made the point this week that while the Ryan report will remain as a crucial monument to what happened, it “cannot replace the intensity of the direct, explicit accounts of the survivors”.
Moving the material to the National Archives, she argues, “will help generations to come to understand the real nature of Irish society then and will ensure the appalling history can never be forgotten”.

Victims groups have also been divided in relation to how the recommendation of the Ryan commission that a memorial should be erected “as a permanent public acknowledgment of their experiences” should be approached.

There are no easy answers to these emotive questions. Victims of abuse have many reasons to be distrustful of officialdom when it comes to records and their access, but at least a move to the National Archives will ensure that in the future, chroniclers of 20th century Ireland will be able to cite the experiences of the victims alongside pious assertions from those who could not or would not accept that the institutions they exalted were destroying the lives of so many Irish children.

This material will belong to the Irish people, as the National Archives does not take in documents that are not to be released to the public. As the files are a vital part of Ireland’s story, their long-term future and accessibility need to be safeguarded and the proposed initiative will ensure that.

Diarmaid Ferriter

Priest tells children Jill Meagher would have been ‘home in bed’ on night of murder if faith was stronger

The Catholic Church in Australia has apologised after a priest said murdered Irishwoman Jill Meagher would have been "home in bed" the night she was killed had her religious faith been stronger.

The comments, made by a priest at an end-of-term service for schoolchildren, sparked outrage both in Australia and in Ireland.

It is understood the priest was delivering a homily at St Christopher's Primary School in the Melbourne suburb of Airport West when he raised a copy of a newspaper referencing Ms Meagher's murder by Australian man Adrian Bayley.

It is understood the priest said if Ms Meagher had been "more faith-filled", she "would have been home in bed" and "not walking down Sydney Road at 3am".

The Drogheda woman was raped and murdered by Bayley in September 2012, in an attack which shocked Australia.

                                                               Jill Meagher

This week Bayley, who is serving a life sentence for Ms Meagher's murder, was found guilty of raping three other women before he attacked Jill Meagher. He now has 20 rape convictions.

Regarding the comments made yesterday in Melbourne, a Catholic Church official there said the priest had apologised for the offence caused.

The Age newspaper reported that Monsignor Greg Bennett - vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne - said the archdiocese was aware of the incident and that he did not support the "totally inappropriate" and "offensive" comments.

"I've spoken with the priest; he acknowledges that the homily wasn't appropriate and apologises for the offence and upset it has caused," said Msgnr Bennett.

"The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate, and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death. We do not share the sentiment of the homily this morning and we certainly apologise for the hurt that this homily may have caused today."

Bayley's latest convictions show that two of the victims - a Dutch backpacker and a local sex worker - were raped just months before he attacked and killed Jill Meagher.

Her death led to serious criticism of the local Parole Board, with it since emerging that Bayley committed a number of crimes while on parole.

Noel Baker

Friday, March 27, 2015

IRA had little choice but to activate their own justice system

I am a survivor of child sex abuse and I am deeply upset with the public conversation about abuse in the Republican community.

Anger is an inevitable consequence of abuse but it does no good at all to lash out at the very people who tried to help deal with the abuse. The anger is only appropriately directed at the person who committed the abuse, but even then lashing out does no healing, I know from direct personal experience.

What I am more upset about is the attack on the IRA and Sinn Fein by people living in the South. My question to all of you is, where were you when your countrymen and women were being beaten, killed, denied jobs and housing, and had their lives destroyed over years, with the active collusion of the RUC?

The Irish Catholics in the North are a traumatised group of people and the trauma is not in the past; it is ongoing. They did not choose to be governed by the UK; they were forced into it as a sacrifice so the Irish in the South could be free. And it was the IRA who did their best to protect your brothers and sisters in the North at the risk of their own lives, while all of you sat here comfortably not involved.

The IRA did the best they could in really difficult circumstances to deal with abuse issues. They didn’t know what they were doing and failed, but they had no choice. You don’t turn to the very people who are oppressing you for help, when you know they will use it against you.

Janet Thornton
Co Cork

Video minute: How not to get your ass kicked by the police!

How not to get shot by the Police (Funny)

                                             Wanted for killer comedy, Chris Rock

If you're reading this, congrats! You're definitely alive, and you're probably not being stopped or shot to death by a police officer at this very moment. This is half the battle. Now the hard part: If you're alive, there's a chance you'll get stopped by a police officer before you die, and if you're stopped, there's a chance you will get shot to death. Here are some steps you can take to avoid getting stopped, and failing that, avoid getting shot to death.

1. Don't Be Black
 They say this works! The best way to not get shot to death by a police officer during a stop is to not get stopped at all, and a proven way to avoid getting stopped both on the road and on foot is to not be black. While you're at it, don't be brown either, either.*

2. Don't Do Bad Things**
It goes without saying, but you should not do bad things, because police officers exist in part to stop and shoot to death people who do. (This is even more important if you insist on being black or brown.) If at all possible, don't kill people. Don't hurt people, and don't hurt their feelings. Don't sell drugs—any drugs. Don't take things that should be exchanged for money without first doing so. Don't carry weapons, even if it is legal to carry weapons where you currently are. Don't be intoxicated in public. Don't speed. Don't drive too slowly. Don't drive without functioning sets of headlights and taillights. Don't allow your parking meter to expire. Don't jaywalk. More broadly,  don't take shortcuts. Don't assemble in large groups. Don't exhibit your underwear. If you can help it, don't disturb other citizens, even if your presence is what is disturbing them. Don't publicly display affection for members of a different race and/or the same sex. Don't play with toys in stores. Don't lock yourself out of your house, but if you do, don't call the police. 

3. Don't Run
Running is good. Running comes with a multitude of health and social benefits. You generally get places faster than if you walk, and sometimes thanif you drive. If you run enough, you'll be stronger, and have more energy and stamina. You'll be physically more attractive to people you are trying to physically attract. Who knows? You may even live longer.
The thing is, for all its benefits, you need space to run to reap them, and so many people are forced to or else choose to run outside. This is a mistake, particularly if you choose to ignore the first rule of this handy guide.
Free hack: Since starting college, I've kept a pretty strict policy of only running indoors on a treadmill, or while engaged in a group activity like soccer or basketball. If you must run, do so in groups, in athletic gear, and preferably with people who follow the first rule of this guide. (Dress pants work, too, if accompanied by a matching blazer and/or shirt and tie.) If you're late, you're late, but at least no one will think you're running from something. Remember: Bullets move fast, but hypertension is a slow burn.
Bonus hacks:
Don't go outside at night! 
Don't go outside in hoodies!
Don't own hoodies! 
Don't go outside!

4. Make Eye Contact
It may seem counterintuitive to look someone in the eye who has both the means to shoot you to death and the latitude to do so without fear of legal or even professional repercussion. But when coming into close contact with a police officer, it's best to acknowledge them with a look, and even a head nod. This is an early, nonverbal sign that you are perhaps One Of The Good Ones Whose Soul Is Yet Untainted By Genetics Or Cultural Residue Or Hip Hop And Therefore Should Maybe Not Be Stopped.
This eye contact, however, should be brief. Like many large predators, a police officer may view overlong eye contact as a defiant or fearful act. With a quick look, you're just signaling that you aren't afraid, because you have nothing to hide. And while you're looking and nodding, smile! Not getting stopped by a police officer is fun!

5. Pray
Can't hurt, right?

6. Be Polite
Now for the bad news. Even if you follow some or all of the steps to not being stopped by a police officer, a police officer still might stop you. A police officer might ask you where you are coming from, or where you are going, or what business has led you to this particular place at this particular time of day or night. At this point, being stopped by a police officer may be humiliating, or enraging, or worse, boring, and you may consider the police officer undeserving of your kindness or even respect. Regardless, though, this police officer has stopped you but has not yet shot you to death, and the objective now is to dissuade the police officer from doing so.
Say "sir" or "ma'am" or "officer" or "officers." Only speak when spoken to, and don't raise your voice. Basically, talk to a police officer as you would a friend's senile grandparent, if there was a chance said grandparent would shoot you to death. If you can muster some friendliness, be friendly. But more importantly, be submissive. Be short and sweet so that, maybe, you can get out of there.

7. Stay Cool
I know you're thinking about moving your hands. You're really gonna want to not do that. Don't gesticulate as you speak to the police officer. Don't reach for your wallet or your phone, or the registration in the glovebox.  Don't reach into your pockets. Don't reach into your waistband for your gun; you probably don't even have one silly!
Instead, keep your hands in a fixed place. Hold them straight down at your sides and palms out, or up by your ears and palms out, or on the steering wheel (at 10 and 2) and palms out. Don't fidget. The only time you should move your hands is when the police officer will tell you to move your hands to fetch something. Repeat their order slowly, while informing them how you are going to complete it. For example:
"Driver's license, please."
"Of course, officer. I'm going to reach into my back pocket right now to grab my driver's license. Is that alright?"
Be sure to move slowly and smoothly. If possible, complete the order using one hand (but don't show off too much).
If you have to, say, reach into your glovebox with both hands, inform the police officer you are reaching into your glovebox with both hands. If you have to reach into your backpack, seriously consider offering to hand your backpack to the officer instead, or if applicable, any members of your party who chose to follow rule no. 1.

8. Go With The Flow
There is the possibility that you follow some or all of the above rules, and the police officer still finds the motivation to physically engage or detain you. This will be terrifying. You will want to fight back, or run away. Do not do this. Police officers are highly trained fighters who often wear body armor and possess multiple weapons on their persons. More likely than not, these are all advantages that you don't have. The police officer, however, will assume that you are a highly trained fighter with body armor and multiple weapons on your person, and will treat you as such. If you try to bulk up, you may be shot to death. If you try to fight back, you may be shot to death. If you try to run away, you may be shot to death.

9. Take A Ride
After all this, you may still end up handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car, en route to jail. Don't panic or be too distraught. You're still alive! But remember: Be sure not to shoot yourself to death.

*If you abide by this rule, you can stop reading now.

**Not an exhaustive list.

Greg Howard

UN’s opinion of Ireland is hard to hear

                                                                       Michael Clifford

THERE were two hearings last week (July 2014 bc) about one Ireland. Both told plenty about who we are and how we are governed, and, not least of all, how we want to be governed.

The picture painted of Ireland at a UN human rights committee hearing in Geneva resembles a developing country, where poverty, kleptocrats and despots have arrested moves towards human rights.

The hearing was told that Ireland tolerates legal discrimination of gay people: the Employment Equality Act allows institutions such as the Catholic Church to dismiss employees whose conduct is contrary to their ethos. In particular, this law affects gay teachers, nurses, doctors and other personnel in education and medicine.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald assured the hearing that the law would be changed, but that it is exists at all speaks volumes.

For victims of rape or incest, the State also prefers to turn away from its duty, the hearing was told.

Fitzgerald, a woman not without compassion, had to explain that it was the people’s wish that abortion not be permitted for victims of rape or incest, nor for those who had suffered a fatal foetal abnormality.

Then, there was the plight of the 1,500 women whose pelvises had been broken in childbirth, for some religious reasons to do with curtailing their sex lives. Symphysiotomy is a form of butchery practised in rural areas of countries like Kenya, a world away from hyper-developed Ireland.

The committee appeared astonished that this blight on the past was dealt with so cavalierly. Throw money at the survivors that they may shut up and exit the public square, appears to be the policy.

The UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Nigel Rodley, who must encounter some desperately inhumane practices in his work, stated that the details of what Irish women were subjected to “keep me awake at night”.

The committee’s view of this country’s record in dealing with prisoners was nothing to write home about either.

The Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky, noted that “you can judge a society by how well it treats its prisoners”. According to the UN committee, that dictum places Ireland in a holding tank with some of the regimes that American generals regularly dream of overthrowing.

The committee strongly criticised Ireland for “chronic” overcrowding in prisons and the “inhuman” practice of slopping out.

In undemocratic societies, prison is overused to keep the populace in line. The committee found such overuse in Ireland common, with 89% of committals being sentences of a year or less. The obvious question of why there was no alternative to prison was asked, but, as usual, received no proper answer.

These are some of a litany of issues, outlined at the hearing, that are in conflict with the self-regarding picture of Ireland as a happy-clappy liberal democracy. It would be easy to blame it all on those who govern, but that would miss the point.

There has, at most levels of society and the political culture, been a failure to holistically address the dark past.

Instead, governments react to the latest excavation of horror, rather than engage in a cathartic examination of all that went on.

Thus, when headlines flash around the world about mass graves of infants, there is a rush to sort it out. When the plight of victims of symphysiotomy is a little local matter that can be capped, the minimum approach is adopted. Elsewhere, the residual power that the Church still exercises ensures that in areas like sexuality and reproduction there is no stomach to do the right thing.

Through all this, the political culture ensures that the road best travelled is the one of least controversy. Unless somebody kicks up in a manner that is reflected in constituency offices or on the airwaves, it doesn’t get addressed. Unless the outside world inquires as to human rights abuses, it is swept into a dark corner. Only the latest controversy is what really matters.

A specific, if relatively trivial, illustration of this malignant political culture was evident in an Oireachtas hearing last week. Most people had enough of Garth Brooks, but the hearings into the cancellation of the concerts told plenty.

On Tuesday, Dublin City manager, Owen Keegan, and planning officials, came before the Oireachtas committee on transport and tourism. They were grilled about the failure to licence the concerts. The questioning was suitably robust. Some of the comments, however, suggested that Keegan was the villain of the piece. Mary Lou McDonald referenced the repercussions for the nation’s “children, and the children’s children”.

Afterwards, there were media reports that some of the members of the committee wanted to bring Keegan’s suitability to continue in office into question. Keegan’s ‘crime’ is processing the law as he is he charged to do, without fear or favour. That is a highly controversial position to adopt in the land of nods and winks.

The following day, the committee heard from the GAA and the gigs’ promoter, Peter Aiken.

For some reason, these boys weren’t so much grilled as asked some nice ‘let me hold your hand’ questions.

The committee chair, John O’Mahoney, addressed GAA secretary general, Pauric Duffy, and Croke Park chief, Peter McKenna, by their first names. Mary Lou was nowhere to be seen brandishing her truth-seeking verbal missiles. The whole thing descended into a little chit-chat between law-makers and businesspeople about how some goddamn public servant had the audacity to invoke the law and deny everybody a big, lucrative party.

It didn’t occur to the parliamentarians to ask if five concerts, in addition to the agreed three per annum, gave anybody pause for thought. Neither were there any awkward queries about the GAA’s relationship with local residents, which has left a lot to be desired. Naturally, the question screaming out for an answer — were the GAA and the promoter blinded by greed? — wasn’t asked either.

No, this was all about decrying the preposterous notion that the market be subservient to the law.

It was enough to make you pine for the days of the Celtic Bubble, when public servants in areas like financial regulation and planning ensured that the law never interfered with partying. Any neutral observer would have to conclude that the parliamentarians were primarily concerned with surfing a wave of public and media outrage, rather than fulfilling their ostensible duties as tribunes of the common good.

The hearings did illuminate one thing. At grassroots, the GAA is an unrivalled example of the best we have to offer. But it’s as prone to wielding its power with the same arrogance as any other corporation obsessed with the bottom line.

It was not a good week to reflect on how we are. The national obsession with how this country is observed from beyond Irish shores was notably muted when the observations were unpalatable. At home, lawmakers were more concerned with how the law might be broken to snaffle a few floating first-preferences.

Michael Clifford

David Quinn: An apologist for abusers

Having David Quinn preaching about protecting children from sex abuse is akin to Bertie Ahern preaching about moral ethics in public life, or Brian Cowen claiming he was never drunk on the radio, or believing that Michael Lowry never took a bribe from Denis O Brien. It just does not read well. Quinn’s banner headline today reads: ‘The best away to protect children from sex abuse is to teach about the age of consent.’ If that did it on it’s own the world would indeed be a better place. 
                                                                         David Quinn

Quinn in reality of course, has been a life long apologist for the Catholic church, wrote for them while mitigating their crimes for every kind of abuse against the most vulnerable, the most precious and the most innocent of us all: the children of the world. 

He wrote that victims of the Magdalene laundries and the Industrial Institutions for children simply had an axe to grind, and that we, by and large, were liars. He wrote that the abuse of children was homosexual in nature, and that the Church was not trying to cover up the abuse of children but to help children. He wrote that a lone parent in a village, who did not want his child to be given brainwashed indoctrination at school, was “the village atheist.” 

His verbal vomit is a distress to any victim of abuse but still the Irish Independent believes he has something relevant to say in a world that has long passed him by. What does he have to say today and why is he saying it? Between his lines and lies is a very dangerous point of view and one that has and is still protecting his tribe today: paedophiles in clerical robes. 

Quinn always has a report in hand and cherry picks enough to make the cherries appear like apples. The rape crisis centre is right: Knowing the difference between rape and consent is the imperative for children and not what the law says. The paedophile does know what the law says and banks on the innocent ignorance of the child and nothing else; getting the child to believe it is a game, their little secret, or is quite simply a punishment for an imaginary crime. A thinly veiled consent is got by those lies and omission and the cover up after goes the same way. In fact knowledge or ignorance of the law does not even come into the equation. Let us be clear here: a sexual crime  against a minor is not only an act of rape but the actions of a paedophile. Say it David: ‘the actions of a paedophile.’ 

The British Oxford report that Quinn cites from is a clever and devious way for him to mitigate the crimes of paedophile priests in that it was the 'authorities' who didn’t want to be judgemental or condemn underage sex as wrong, or interfere with the children’s self determining choice in matter of sexuality; even referring to a professional tolerance where children are sexualised at an even younger age. This report is literally a blueprint for the cover up that was used and is still being used by the Irish government and the Catholic church. Quinn is the ultimate of what it means to be a wolf in sheep's clothing as he tries to hijack and undermine the words and meaning of the Rape Crisis Centre for his open twisted aims. Though it appears that he is on a different subject, what he quotes is an attempt to imply  another narrative about the abuse of children in why there was reason for cover up by the shifting and twisting sands of authority.  This can only mean his former paymasters, the Catholic church. 

Sex between minors is an area not fully or even partially addressed yet in society but is outside the remit that the Rape Crisis Centre was referring to. It is this that Quinn latched on to while pushing home his agenda that in some instances it could be understood. Yes it could but never between adult and child. That is one fact that David has yet to apologise about for he has made it a career, literally, to claim otherwise. He is and always will be an apologist for  abusers.

Barry Clifford  

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Floating voter trends leave lot to play for before general election

Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll is welcome news for FG while SF maintains strong position

Thursday’s Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll contains welcome news for Fine Gael, with early evidence of a recovery in support.
On 24 per cent, Fine Gael have rebounded five points and will look to maintain this momentum through to the general election.
Labour, on 7 per cent, appear to have bottomed out, improving by one point on our December poll.
Sinn Féin (up two points to 24 per cent) shows no signs of retreat, while Fianna Fail (down four points to 17 per cent) and Independents/Others (down four points to 28 per cent) have each taken a step backwards.
Interviewing for the latest poll took place on Monday and Tuesday of this week, when the national mood was buoyant. Voters had spent the previous week celebrating St Patrick or gazing skyward to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse.
On the economic front, all the indicators lately appear to be moving in the right direction. Ireland is storming ahead, spurred on by the potent combination of a weaker euro, low interest rates and strong economic growth in the UK and the US. The fastest-growing economy in Europe, again.
This abundance of good news and positive sentiment has given Fine Gael a boost.
The party can rightly claim to have led a Government that has more than stabilised the economy. Yet, somewhat puzzlingly perhaps, the party is still a long way adrift of its 2011 general election performance.

Rejuvenated economy
Many of the 36 per cent of voters that gave their first preference to Fine Gael in 2011 are not minded to make the same choice the next time, which suggests the party was elected to do more than just fix the economy, or that a rejuvenated economy has not yet delivered the benefits or relief that the public had hoped for.

In our latest poll, we asked voters which party they chose in the last election in order to identify how loyal voters have remained - and where those who are not loyal have gone.
Does knowing where Fine Gael voters have gone tell us something about why they switched? Perhaps. One interpretation, for example, is that these voters were disillusioned with party politics as much as with Fine Gael, as most have gone to Independents/Others or are undecided.
While a gain of one point for Labour is not significant, at least the trajectory is upwards.
Unfortunately, with multiseat constituencies and support averaging at 7 per cent (ranging from 10 per cent in Dublin to 4 per cent in Munster and Connacht/Ulster), Labour seats will be hard won at the next election if nothing changes in the meantime.
Lapsed Labour voters also display symptoms of party-politics fatigue, with Independents/Others their preferred destination. It is worth confirming Labour voters are more likely than Fine Gael voters to have drifted to Sinn Féin since the election.
Once again, Sinn Féin have been in the media for all the wrong reasons, and again they have emerged unscathed in electoral terms. In fact, support has increased to 24 per cent, a gain of two points.

Robust core vote
Sinn Féin has a remarkably robust core vote. Our analysis shows that 86 per cent of Sinn Féin voters in the 2011 general election have remained loyal to their party, compared to 58 per cent for Fianna Fáil, 50 per cent for Fine Gael and 27 per cent for Labour.

If a vote for Sinn Féin is a vote against austerity, clearly the rising economic tide has not yet lifted all boats.
Tens of thousands protesting against water charges at the weekend may not be new news, but it is a reminder of the pain and anxiety caused by cuts, taxes, debt and job losses that is still being felt by a large cohort of the population.
It is important to keep in mind that a booming economy has the potential, on one level, to benefit Sinn Féin.
It is a lot easier to suffer austerity when you feel everyone is suffering together. It hurts more if you think others are escaping while you are being left behind.
Sinn Féin’s rise has been compared to that of Syriza in Greece. Indeed, opinion and exit polls from Greek elections bear out these comparisons.
Our polling colleagues in Ipsos Greece and pollsters Metron Analysis tracked the rise of Syriza from a party with single-digit support in 2010 to 27 per cent support in the 2012 national election.
Between 2010 and 2012, Sinn Féin made almost identical gains. But what swept Syriza into government earlier this year with 36 per cent of the vote was a surge in support from voters aged 55 and older.
Many older voters live on very modest incomes, yet Sinn Féin has consistently underperformed among these voters, especially among the 65-plus age group from whom Sinn Féin wins just 16 per cent support (Irish pensioners have probably been more insulated from austerity than in Greece, where pensions were cut).
Getting the attention of older voters without alienating the core Sinn Féin vote could form the cornerstone of an election strategy, if for no other reason than older voters get out and vote.
Fianna Fáil have registered their lowest poll rating in almost three years. With 17 per cent support, the party is only three points above its crisis low.
The drop of four points for Fianna Fáil looks like the yin to Fine Gael’s yang. Both are now parties of the right, fishing much of the time in the same pond.
We have to go back as far as April 2012 to find an Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll where both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael moved in the same direction. If the Fine Gael vote proves to be as resurgent as the economy, there may be limited room for Fianna Fáil to grow in the short term.

Voter frustration
The dynamic at the left end of the spectrum is just as intriguing.

In the past few years, Independents/Others (including smaller parties) have feasted on voter frustration with party politics.
This is potentially about to change as they swarm in preparation for an election.
Either this coalescing will boost the Independent vote (if it convinces voters Independents are more influential as a group) or damage it if they lose their independence and, with it, a key point of difference.
Leadership satisfaction ratings have more or less followed the party support trend – Enda Kenny is up a whopping nine points to 28 per cent, Joan Burton is up six points to 31 per cent, Gerry Adams is unchanged on 26 per cent while Micheál Martin is one point lower on 24 per cent.
The role of party leader has become increasingly important in Irish politics as parties are shaped more by policy than history. Voters are more open than ever before to being persuaded.

If you define a floating voter as someone who has switched loyalties since the last election, then a massive 45 per cent of voters would fall into this category. There is a lot to play for.

Damien Loscher