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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Clerical abuse survivor glad of inquiry into garda inaction

“There can be no excuse for the gardaí not acting on the information they had then. There can be no justification for doing nothing,” Ms Collins said yesterday.

Evidence was provided to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Northern Ireland this week that gardaí in Finglas, Dublin, had been alerted in 1973 about a very real risk of future abuse by Smyth. Belfast solicitor Kevin Winters said he would be writing to the Garda Commissioner Nóirin O’Sullivan to find out why the letter informing gardaí that Smyth was “suffering from paedophilia” was not acted on.
Mr Winters’ firm represents a number of Smyth’s victims, who are seeking damages against the gardaí for failing to prevent crimes against the innocent and vulnerable.

Confidential documents from St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin disclosed during the inquiry showed that Smyth was receiving psychiatric treatment in 1973 for his sexual propensities.
The Department of Justice and Equality said it would examine any conclusions or findings made by the historical abuse inquiry that were relevant to this jurisdiction.

Ms Collins, a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was abused by a priest in 1960 when she was a patient at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin.
“It would seem that, back in those days, because there was religious involved, there was a reluctance on the part of the guards to act. That should not have happened,” she said.

The priest, Paul McGennis, had committed sexual assaults on patients aged eight to 11 years at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick children in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1960, Scotland Yard told the Garda Commissioner that McGennis had photos of children developed in a London photo lab.

The commissioner asked Archbishop John Charles McQuaid to take over the case as a priest was involved and the gardaí “could prove nothing”. The Commission to Inquiry Into Child Abuse said there was no evidence that the gardaí had investigated the complaint from the British police authorities.

In 1997, McGennis was convicted of abusing Ms Collins and another girl in his former parish in Co Wicklow. He received an 18-month sentence, which was later halved on appeal.

History will absolve me- an extract

                                                                      Fidel Castro

........I come to the close of my defense plea but I will not end it as lawyers usually do, asking that the accused be freed. I cannot ask freedom for myself while my comrades are already suffering in the ignominious prison of the Isle of Pines. Send me there to join them and to share their fate. It is understandable that honest men should be dead or in prison in a Republic where the President is a criminal and a thief.

To you, Honorable Judges, my sincere gratitude for having allowed me to express myself free from contemptible restrictions. I hold no bitterness towards you, I recognize that in certain aspects you have been humane, and I know that the Chief Judge of this Court, a man of impeccable private life, cannot disguise his repugnance at the current state of affairs that compels him to dictate unjust decisions. Still, a more serious problem remains for the Court of Appeals: the indictments arising from the murders of seventy men, that is to say, the greatest massacre we have ever known. The guilty continue at liberty and with weapons in their hands-weapons which continually threaten the lives of all citizens. If all the weight of the law does not fall upon the guilty because of cowardice or because of domination of the courts, and if then all the judges do not resign, I pity your honor. And I regret the unprecedented shame that will fall upon the Judicial Power.

I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.

Fidel Castro ( speech extract- 1953 at his trial)

Photo Minute: What a wonderful world

Brendan Smyth’s victims to sue Garda for damages

Victims of paedophile priest Brendan Smyth are to sue An Garda Siochana for damages over its failure to take action when they were allegedly notified in the early 1970s that Smyth was a child sex abuser, it was stated on Thursday.

Belfast solicitorKevin Winters said he was instructed to take legal proceedings against the Garda following evidence provided to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry on Thursday that gardaí in Finglas were alerted in 1973 that Smyth was “suffering from paedophilia”.

That information emerged through the disclosure of confidential documents from St Patrick’s Hospital in Dublin where in 1973 Smyth was receiving psychiatric treatment for his sexual propensities.

“A number of victims of Smyth’s abuse have asked us to write to the Garda Commissioner to find out why they didn’t act on a letter sent to Finglas Garda station in 1973,” said Mr Winters.

“Our clients are shocked to learn that the document didn’t alert gardaí and the authorities to the very real risk of future abuse by Smyth.

“It has been deeply re-traumatising for them to learn about the contents of this letter and to that end feel they have no alternative but to issue civil proceedings for damages for what on the face of it was an appalling failure to take meaningful steps to prevent crimes against the innocent and vulnerable.”

A Garda spokesman said that “as the inquiry is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment”.

Margaret McGuckian of victims group Savia  said it was “beyond comprehension to think that so many people’s lives could have been different had the authorities acted sooner”.

“It is a bad day for the gardaí but we also want to know why it took so long for these documents to be handed over. ”

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

President Andrew Jackson thoughts for the day (1767-1845)

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes.

If the Union is once severed, the line of separation will grow wider and wider, and the controversies which are now debated and settled in the halls of legislation will then be tried in fields of battle and determined by the sword.

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

Money is power, and in that government which pays all the public officers of the states will all political power be substantially concentrated.

Democracy shows not only its power in reforming governments, but in regenerating a race of men and this is the greatest blessing of free governments.

Every good citizen makes his country's honor his own, and cherishes it not only as precious but as sacred. He is willing to risk his life in its defense and its conscious that he gains protection while he gives it.

To the victors belong the spoils.

One man with courage makes a majority.

Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.

Andrew Jackson

Photo Minute: There are storms coming

Monday, June 22, 2015

Before you follow let the lessons of history serve you well

There was a man out there who loved dogs and children and painted these paintings:

.................he also won a medal for bravery on the field of battle. This man had a photographic memory and what he said he meant. He rarely drank except for an occasional glass of wine nor did he smoke. Born a Catholic, he was married just the once and never had an affair outside of marriage. 
When he spoke, millions listened and he had a huge adoring fan base. Be careful what you wish for.

The man's name was Adolf Hitler 

Barry Clifford

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Give me liberty or give me death!

The full text transcript of Patrick Henry's Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death speech, delivered at Richmond, Virginia - March 23, 1775.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House.

But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. 
This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received?
Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. 
These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. 
They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted?
Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 
If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. 
There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!
I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Patrick Henry

Jackboot Capitialism

Former taoishigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen will face the banking enquiry next month as they attempt to explain their involvement in the financial crisis. Picture: Denis Minihane

JACKBOOT capitalism and the keystone cops who pretend to police it have once more been to the fore.
From the disgusting, and disgustingly legal, mistreatment of Clerys workers to the lack of adequate mental health services, via a flashback at the crash that drained the funding for such vulnerable people, it’s been a grim week.
A smartly dressed, middle-aged man tried to take his life on the railings of Leinster House on Monday.

A TD, two journalists, a passerby, and guards rushed to save him.
We do not know why the man, who said he was an abuse victim that nobody cared about, attempted to take his own life and it would be wrong to speculate on that, or on whether he was receiving the care he needed, or not.

But the sad fact is that far too many people with mental health problems, of all ages, are not getting the help they need and deserve.
The Leinster House authorities immediately offered the TD involved in the incident, Finian McGrath, counselling after such a traumatic experience, which he declined.

It was proper and thoughtful of them to do so, but it is also darkly ironic as Mr McGrath would be the first to note, that a TD who witnessed such an event is offered help so fast, when people in danger of taking their own lives are abandoned on waiting lists due to lack of resources.

And why do we have so few resources? Because of the boom stoked-up in order to buy votes, the crash that our political elite did not see coming, and their dumb decision to unleash the bank bailout, thus ensuring the cost of it would be never-ending.

Former finance department secretary general Kevin Cardiff was up before the Oireachtas probe into the economic collapse this week, and while he did at least give a lot more detail, it was often the same, lame, story of tossing the blame grenade around.

We eagerly await next month when the main political players from the crash will finally have to account for their central roles in the crisis when Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen appear before the committee.
Like most of the witnesses they will not just be laden-down with their failure to foresee, or adequately deal with the financial collapse, they will alsohave to carry the heavy weight of the massive pensions they take from us for running (down) the country.

Ahern and Cowen enjoy the most generous pensions of any politicians, taking home a magnificent €1,554 per week each from the taxpayer, and I am sure we would all agree it is very well deserved.
At least the pension allows Mr Ahern the chance to get by without having to rely on those fortunate wins on the horses that he maintained partially explained the money sloshing around in his 20-plus bank accounts while finance minister in the early 1990s.

But, unfortunately for him and his already ragged reputation, the Mahon Tribunal did not believe his evidence and effectively branded him a liar.

So, will Bertie’s self-serving bleatings to the banking inquiry be of any more value? Probably not, but it will be very interesting to see if Ahern and Cowen turn on each other as they blame-shift between themselves.
Always keen to avoid talking about being the only former taoiseach in the history of the State to be found an unbelievable witness by a tribunal, Mr Ahern did pop up on TV this week in the most graceless manner to take pot shots at the late Brian Lenihan.

Slipping the knife in, Ahern said Mr Lenihan was: “Difficult, to be honest. I’ve seen it over the years — the more intellectual they are, the more work they don’t want to do.

“You have to do both, you have to be able to put in the graft, keep lunches to a minimum, keep tea to a minimum and keep finishing time late.”

And, presumably, keep room in your pockets for the odd “dig-out” or two, eh Bertie? Given that Ahern clearly has no qualms about speaking ill of the dead, goodness knows what he intends to say about the living. Something that will not be lost on a very combative Mr Cowen.

Stunning state pensions for Ahern and Cowen, but just statutory redundancy for the Clerys workers turfed out of the building like trash in a feat of financial twisting that was perfectly legal, but morally appalling.
Everyone in the Government seemed to agree that the workers had been treated like dirt, but nobody seemed to want to do anything to clean up the mess.

Joan Burton thought those involved had behaved in a “despicable” way, while the Taoiseach was much less indignant, stating that the workers had been treated “insensitively” before he mused that company law is very complex when urged to ensure this could not happen again.

It seems to have escaped Mr Kenny’s mind that we actually elect leaders to lead and deal with situations which are often complex but, instead, Mr Kenny did what he always does in a tight spot and ordered a report into the possibility of, maybe, doing something in the future.

It sums up this Government’s record really — plenty of reports, very little action.
But wait, we are finally getting the universal health care they promised us, except, of course, we are not.
Short-term political gain won out of long term principle with the push to have something to show in the chaotic health sector by giving free GP care to children under the age of six.

So, as the general election looms, we will see healthy children from wealthy families getting free care, while older, sick children from struggling families will not.

It would have been far better to use the money to raise the medical card threshold and target need not age — but then that would not have been such a good middle class election bribe.
It was a similar picture on the housing front where Environment Minister Alan Kelly wrote to Dublin councils telling them not to introduce building standards that could delay the flow of new housing stock.
Despite the scandal of Priory Hall, it seems we have learned nothing and the needs of developers are once again to be put before the needs of the people who will live in the flats and houses that must be thrown-up with minimum standards so the builders can make more money on the deal.

From unbelievable Bertie to the current cut and paste Coalition, short term political gain leaves a long shadow of misery over this country.

Shaun Connolly