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Saturday, February 4, 2017

High costs and rise in repossessions drive growth of lay litigants

Judges say the unrepresented are poorly advised and lack knowledge of procedures

Dealing with cases involving a number of people facing repossession orders for their homes last week, High Court judge Mr Justice Séamus Noonan questioned where some of them were getting their legal advice.
All of them had represented themselves as lay litigants. Having heard a series of applications for judicial reviews, he dismissed all of them as not qualifying under the rules for such an examination.

Told that some had got advice from an unnamed friend before coming to court, he commented: “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Mr Justice Noonan is not the only member of the bench to be concerned. Large numbers of people are opting to deal with the legal system without any professional representation, much to the dismay of judges and the legal profession, an analysis by The Irish Times shows.
Last year, there were 641 cases listed on the High Court’s busiest list, the plenary list, involving lay litigants on at least one side. This represented one in 20 of cases on the list. In 2014, there were 420 such cases. One-third of cases before the Court of Appeal involve lay litigants.
The practice of people dispensing with the services of solicitors and barristers for High Court and Court of Appeal cases began in earnest during the economic crisis, but it shows no sign of slowing down.

Lack of knowledge
Besides worrying that some people are coming to court poorly advised, some judges are also concerned that lay litigants are clogging up court lists because they lack knowledge about procedures.
The concerns are shared by the Chief Justice, Susan Denham, who late last year asked the Bar Council to put together a panel of barristers who could, for free, advise lay litigants appearing before the Supreme Court on issues of public importance.
Eilis Barry, chief executive of the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC), said her organisation has noticed a substantial increase in calls from people who intend to represent themselves in court, though it is usually not by choice.

“In many instances, they fall between the two stools of being ineligible for civil legal aid, which has a very low income threshold, while still not being able to afford a solicitor.
“FLAC would be concerned that a person going to court unrepresented may not know the procedures, may not know how to marshal the evidence and present it and make the best case for themselves. “They may be up against respondents who have easy access to legal advice and representation. There isn’t a level playing field when one party is a lay litigant,” she told The Irish Times.

The legal aid organisation has recently produced videos for lay litigants covering the basics of going to court: “It covered things like calling the judge ‘judge’, be respectful, ask for permission to speak, things like that,” said FLAC spokeswoman Yvonne Woods.
“Stuff that’s not necessarily intuitive, especially if you’re scared out of your wits and are standing up in court for the first time. You do not know how to behave.”

Unqualified persons
The Law Society and Bar Council have also expressed concern. “The Bar of Ireland has concerns about lay litigants obtaining advice from unqualified persons,” said spokeswoman Shirley Coulter. “The use of professional barrister services in court is in the best interests of clients and is the most efficient and effective way to ensure the proper administration of justice. Ken Murphy of the Law Society declared: “No sensible person would allow themselves be operated on by someone who had no qualification in medicine. That common sense approach should be followed in legal matters, also.
“The public should be very wary of relying on the theories, judgement or advice in legal matters of individuals who have no qualification in the law.”

                                                      Stephen Mannning
Murphy and others in the legal world have been irritated by a book entitled DIY Justice in Ireland–Prosecuting by Common Informer published by Integrity Ireland and written by Stephen Manning, one of several small groups who allege that Ireland’s legal system is corrupt.

Protests have led to the suspension of court sittings. In Castlebar Circuit Court, members of Integrity Ireland and Land League West sprinkled holy water and recited the Rosary. In another, individuals tried to place a judge under citizen’s arrest.
Meanwhile, a group called Freemen of the Land have upset hearings, arguing that all law is contractual; in other words, it only applies if a person consents to it. Believers refuse to answer or obey the court, saying they have not granted it jurisdiction.
Such protests have led to a security review by the Courts Service. Repossession hearing lists are examined beforehand to see if extra security is needed. One Circuit Court judge refuses to hear cases unless there is a garda present.

Not every lawyer is critical of the motivations of such groups, even if they doubt the advice given. “I’ve talked to some of them, they see themselves as trying to defend very defenceless people and the systems are stacked against them,” said one.

Vulnerable people
“You can see where they are coming from. On the other hand they are giving questionable information to very vulnerable people who are going into a legally-binding situation and that is awful. But in a vacuum where there isn’t a freely available State service, that is going to arise, somebody will rush in to fill that vacuum,” said the lawyer, who did not wish to be identified.
Barristers and solicitors often dread appearing against lay litigants. “The court gives them a lot more latitude,” said barrister Fergal Foley. “Most barristers feel that a judge becomes pretty much an opponent rather than an independent arbiter. “Very often they are quite sincere people who really believe that they have a cause and that the world is against them and particularly the entire legal profession is against them.
“It’s often because they have gone along to a solicitor who has probably taken some money from them before telling them you have no case, that it’s completely hopeless. They think they have been defrauded and that they have a very good case.”
Lay litigants are much rarer in the criminal courts where the majority of defendants who cannot afford a lawyer receive legal aid. People representing themselves in criminal cases have often dismissed their legal team because they did not like the advice given to them.

Barrister Maurice Coffey prosecuted a man who had fired his legal team on the second last day of the trial. “He said the whole thing was a conspiracy between the guards, the judge, the prison service and his own barrister. He said the only one who wasn’t in on the conspiracy was me.”

Despite prosecuting the case, Coffey had to guide the accused in his defence. “Effectively you have to wear both hats. I had to make it clear that I was steering it right. So I had to remind the judge to do certain things on his behalf.
“I lent the accused law books and things like that. It would be an obligation in criminal matters. You would have to be very careful that everything is done correctly,” Coffey said.
“Barristers throw our eyes to heaven when we hear there is a lay litigant or someone who is defending themselves because it just adds to the inefficacy of the case.

“They don’t understand how to cross-examine. They start making speeches instead of asking questions. You always dread when there’s a lay litigant for the other side purely because you know it’s going to be painful to get to the finish line,” he said.

However, he has some sympathy for them: “To fight a civil case is a very expensive business. Very often someone is up against a corporation who can fight everything tooth and nail and can appeal everything. The risks are huge.”
Conor Pope

Diary of 18th century sailor provides fascinating insight into life below decks in Nelson's navy

A unique record of the British navy between 1790 and 1833 that was compiled by a sailor has emerged in the US.
The diary of George Hodge shows the "below decks" view of life at sea during a crucial time for Britain's senior service.
The self-educated seaman begins the journal with the words: "George Hodge, his Book 
Consisting of Difrint ports & ships that I have sailed in since the year 1790. Aged 13 years."

A unique account of life below decks in Nelson's navy has come up for auction

He recorded the ladies of leisure with whom he associated, painted stunning pictures of ships and flags as well as a self portrait.
Images of ordinary seamen from the time of Nelson's navy are very rare.
Hodge lists one or two skirmishes, but many entries cover the mundane activities of life on board vessels from this era. There are also words to sea shanties that the men sang.
The journal is about 500 pages long and includes lists of ships and how many guns they have, lists of crew, and a list of flag formations that number 192.
These include: "1. An enemy is in sight. 2. Prepare for battle. 3. Sail by divisions... 5. Engage the enemy (If red penant shown engage more closely) ... 10. Enemy retreating at full speed."  It also shows that danger was ever present for crews, even when the ships were not in battle.

George Hodge's self-portrait, who spent 43 years at sea from 1790 to 1833

On December 26, 1812, an entry reads: "A fresh breeze a strange sail in sight. Empl painting quarterdeck. Fell from the for top mast Mathew Donelson and was drownded."  
Another entry reads: "July 19 light breeze at 5am picked up body of John Carter and buried him on the Isle of White."  
On Christmas Day in 1806 he writes: "Employ'd in wartering ship and seting up the riger ... fish for dinner." 
He began his career at sea as a cabin boy in coaling vessels between  Northumberland and London.
In 1794 he travelled to a Russian Baltic port and on the way back was captured by the French, but was then sent home in a cartel sloop.
He was captured again in 1797, but was returned home and then spent months on the run from press gangs.

One of Hodge's sea shanties that forms part of the 500 page account of all his adventures
But in 1798 he was caught and joined HMS Lancaster, which had 64 guns.   For the next nine years he served mainly along the west African coast. But he also went to Ceylon and the East Indies.
In 1808 he joined HMS Marlborough, 74 guns, and spent the years until 1812 mostly on blockade duty around Europe.
At Cadiz in 1812 news of the war with America reached his ship and she sailed to Bermuda. The Lancaster then served in the blockade of the Chesapeake and raided several towns.
Hodge was then sent to serve on the lakes in north America and was assigned to a gunboat.
In 1814 he took part in raids on Oswego, New York and blockaded the US Naval base at Sackets Harbour.

Hodge's account of dismasted HMS Tremendous

Finally, in 1815 he returned to Britain and at Greenwich was paid for 17 years, four months, two weeks and two days service with the Royal Navy.
After that he rejoined the merchant navy where he had started and finally ended his career at sea in 1833.
An addition made after his death shows that he did have children.
Hodge writes that he was born "In the Parish of Tinmouth in the County of Northumberland" and that his career began under "Capt Edger" who commanded the "brig Margerey."  

The opening page of Hodge's diary

Peter Coccoluto, from Northeast Auctions in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, US, is selling the item which has an estimate of 30,000 pounds.

He said: "It is very unusual because the man appears to be self-educated which is why he spells as the words sound.
"You do get Midshipmen's diaries that they had to keep and show sextant readings, weather conditions and diagrams of ports.
"But this is much different because it is from below decks and it is never clear what rank George Hodge had.

HMS Mary at South Shields

"The diary does not cover every day and there are bits missing and other pages go in reverse order.
"There are wonderful water colour paintings of ships and flags and various other subjects are depicted.
"It runs to about 500 pages and covers his career from 1790 to 1833. But there is some information added afterwards and shows he had a family.

Forget Donald Trump. The true master of fake news is Michael O’Leary

The Ryanair boss perfected the art of media flyers long ago. After ‘pay per pee’ toilets and ‘vertical seats’ come this week’s ‘free tickets’

The author of the 21st-century playbook on how best to take on – and then take down – the establishment by drip-feeding an insatiable media a diet of alternative facts, half-truths and playground insults is not Donald Trump. It’s another business tycoon a little closer to home: Michael O’Leary.

Some of the more bullish comments that O’Leary has made during his colourful time at the top of Ryanair make the new US president, even when in fully unhinged mode, seem like a particularly taciturn and contemplative monk in an enclosed – but nonexecutive – order.
Since he became leader of the free world President Trump has been soothing his troubled soul in the dawn’s early light by taking to Twitter to label CNN, the New York Times or whatever mainstream media organisation has displeased him most at any given moment as “failing” or “terrible” or “fake”.

Such gentle language has never been for O’Leary, who called RTÉ a “rat-infested North Korean union shop”, this newspaper “Pravda” and readers of the Guardian “an environmental nuclear bomb”.
While Trump labels political opponents “terrible” (Obama), crooked (Clinton) or losers (everyone else), O’Leary prefers tougher words and has described the Dáil as the “worst assembly of halfwits and lunatics”, a Bertie Ahern-led coalition as “a government of lemmings, led by the biggest lemming of all”, and Ahern himself as a “gobshite”.

Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on climate change and suggested that, despite never reading books, never mind scientific papers, he gets global warming better than almost every climate scientist and every piece of scientific research ever done by anyone anywhere on the planet. But he has never said – publicly, at any rate – that his aim when it comes to environmentalists is to “annoy the f***ers whenever we can” before suggesting that the “best thing you can do is shoot them . . . They are Luddites marching us back to the 18th century.”

It’s not in the realm of insults, however, but in the brave new world of placing alternative facts in the public domain that O’Leary really leaves Trump in the ha’penny place.
Even this week he was at it, and not even The Irish Pravda’s business desk was immune to his charms. “Free airline tickets could be a reality, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has revealed,” began a piece in this newspaper, which ran under the alluring headline: “ ‘I want to have all air fares on Ryanair free,’ says O’Leary”.

A few paragraphs in, however, and it becomes clear that the notion is just another O’Leary flyer. “One day I want to have all the air fares on Ryanair being free,” he said. “Ancillary revenues already make up 30 per cent of our revenues. We might never get there, but at least it’s the objective.”

Although newspapers all over Europe picked up on the word “free”, the most telling phrase was: “We might never get there.”
It is just the latest in a long line of attention-grabbing “plans” from O’Leary that never have come to anything – except achieving their goal of getting Ryanair precious coverage in all the newspapers he is delighted to deride when the mood takes him.
A few years ago he suggested that Ryanair was considering charging people to use onboard toilets. “One thing we have looked at is maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in the future,” he announced to an eager press pack. “Pay per pee. If someone wanted to pay £5 to go to the toilet I’d carry them myself. I would wipe their bums for a fiver.”

It was nonsense, of course, but it did its job. So too did his “plan” to roll out vertical seats on his aircraft. They’d be a bit like bar stools with seat belts, he explained.
Had it happened it would have seen Ryanair remove 10 rows of seats from each of its aircraft, replacing them with 15 rows of vertical seats, to allow flights carry 30 per cent more passengers while slashing costs by 20 per cent.

It never happened.
Another thing that never happened were Ryanair’s transatlantic plans. When talking about this wheeze O’Leary said that the cost of flying to the United States would be slashed. He would offer economy passengers “no frills” while in business class it would be “all be free”.
The plans were recently shelved, with O’Leary saying that there just weren’t enough aircraft in the world to accommodate his ambitions.
He has also suggested that overweight passengers should be hit with a “fat tax” and questioned the requirement for copilots, who, he suggested, were there only to “make sure the first fella doesn’t fall asleep and knock over one of the computer controls”.
O’Leary knows this is not true. Ryanair has always followed best practice when it comes to piloting and copiloting arrangements, and it takes passenger safety very seriously.

But O’Leary knows the value of a headline and understood, maybe even before President Trump did, that a judiciously placed piece of fake news can go a long way towards unsettling and, ultimately, unseating rivals that everyone assumes to be untouchable.

As he has said himself, “All flights are fuelled with Leprechaun wee and my bullshit!” At least he admits when he’s just making stuff up.
Conor Pope

Reports Russia to blame for Ukraine violence are fake news

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has branded reports that Russia is responsible for the escalating violence in Ukraine as “fake news”.
The American film-maker said claims Russia was “aggravating the situation” in the warzone were untrue and insisted the United States had a “huge responsibility” for the continuing conflict.

Oliver, who interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his new documentary, Ukraine On Fire, also backed President Donald Trump’s bid to improve US-Russian relations.
Speaking at a screening of the film in Los Angeles, Oliver claimed America had used the Ukrainian conflict to “blackball” Russia and “keep the concept of Nato alive”.

He told the Press Association: “(America) has a huge role, a huge responsibility and has denied it. It’s completely denied the whole truth of the situation.

“It’s a very painful situation for the people who live in that area but at the same time it’s used by the United States to blackball Russia as much as possible and keep the concept of Nato alive.
“It’s a very important film and a very important subject that has been swept under the rug by our country.
“Frankly today I’m shocked they published fake news that the Russians are aggravating the situation when all the casualties are in (rebel-held) Donetsk.

He added: “It’s a horrible situation and totally fake.”

Speaking at the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles, Oliver said he hoped Mr Trump could improve America’s relationship with Russia.
“Certainly the US and Russia should be allies,” he said.
“As Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy said very well, we have a stake in humanity together.”

“The United States is the one that gets involved in most domestic elections and interferes.”
Oliver, who won best director Oscars for Platoon and Born On The Fourth Of July, produced the documentary Ukraine On Fire which looks at the country’s revolution in 2014.

The film features an interview with ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych and argues he was the victim of a US-inspired coup with the intent of pushing back against Russia.
Oliver Stone

Friday, February 3, 2017

If this story does not warm your heart you may not have a pulse

 Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out fishing with his charter boat, a 62ft fishing vessel, in Alaska, when four young black- tailed deer swam directly towards his boat, and that is when he took these  photos to record something incredible and a once in a life time event.........................................

“Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to circle it, while looking directly at us. We could tell that they were distressed. I opened my back gate and we helped the typically skittish wild animals onto the boat. On board, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering.

"Out of the four young bucks, the youngest and smallest needed, a bit more help to get back on his feet when we reached the dock. The rest were just fine."

“ My daughter, Anna, and my son Tim, helped the last buck to it’s feet. We didn’t know how long they had been in the icy waters or if there has been others that had survived. It is an experience that none of us will ever forget including the bucks.”

"Kindness is the language that the blind can see and the deaf can hear." Mark Twain.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

How to fight your unhelpful, unfounded everyday thoughts

Cognitive behavioural therapy is combining with mindfulness to become more effective

Epictetus hit it on the head. The ancient Greek philosopher noted: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” Two millennia later, there is an array of psychological tools at our disposal to help us transform one such view for another.
Structured upon decades-old, empirical research and psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has come of age. Whereas mindfulness chiefly concerns you getting out of your head by raising your awareness to the internal and external experiences of the present moment, CBT is more about understanding that how we think and feel is not automatic or involuntary, nor governed by the unconscious or genetics, but is a process that can be radically changed should we have the will to do so.

While mindfulness can appear at times over the last decade to be inaccurately painted as a panacea for most mental health problems, it is in fact one of several alternatives to cognitive and other talking therapies.
However, problem-focused and action-oriented CBT is about reclaiming from autopilot the sea of unhelpful, unproductive and often unfounded thoughts, beliefs and interpretations (eg magnifying negatives and minimising positives, overgeneralising and “catastrophising”) that can flood us each day, understanding the context from which they have arisen and replacing them with alternative, more realistic and constructive cognitions.

CBT allows you to identify baseless, exaggerated or extreme thinking, routinely ricocheting about your mind, for what it is, while understanding that it really does not have to be this way, unless you want it to. But only you can make that change.
It comes down to the trigger. Were you ever to come across a dead body in the street that just “happened” to be shot, wouldn’t you want to learn who pulled the trigger, when and why? The resulting corpses of our wayward thoughts are similarly susceptible to triggers, often inducing unpleasant physical symptoms (eg butterflies in the stomach, increased heart rate or body temperature) and/or spurring tenuous decision-making and regrettable behaviour – often all in the space of seconds.However, we have traditionally paid a negligible degree of time comprehending or addressing what those triggers are and how they’ve come to be. The finger which pulls the trigger is marshalled by our core beliefs and these are spawned, but not set, in childhood. CBT can enable us to identify and decode these beliefs that subliminally steer our path through each day and our life.

All about the core
“These are our major beliefs about ourselves, about our world and about other people,” says Galway-based clinical psychologist Dr Clare Kambamettu. “Our core beliefs act like a filter, through which we view everything that happens to us in our lives. They inform how we think about the world, often depending on what happens to us on a daily basis.”
Kambamettu says CBT can be used for both general wellbeing, as well as treating mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
“But we also know from research that it’s very useful in helping us build self-esteem and stress-response skills, and helping us in our day-to-day lives. From my own experience, understanding how my thoughts make me feel and behave has probably been one of the most helpful skills that I’ve learned throughout my adult life.”

While depression and anxiety are known to be treated most effectively from CBT, it has also been used to treat – with varying results – stress, worry, phobias, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, anger, pain and sexual dysfunction.
Despite recent research that suggests CBT may not be as effective at it once was deemed to be, Kambamettu stresses most scientific research still supports it as one of the most effective interventions for treating many mental health problems.
“CBT has been shown to be more effective in treating issues such as anxiety disorders than traditional treatments. But when it comes to mild to moderate depression, we know it is equivalent to antidepressant medication, in terms of response and rates of relapse.”

Kambamettu, the director of Lighthouse Clinical Psychology service at Galway Bay Medical Centre, says we are currently experiencing the third wave of CBT, which is stretching into a fourth.
Although cognitive psychotherapy has its roots in ancient philosophy, “CBT started in the 1950s in the United Kingdom and United States. At that point it was behavioural therapy. Psychologists were learning about the impact of behaviours on mental health and on our experiences of the world. Then the second stage, which was called cognitive therapy, took place from about the late 1960s. This is when people started to place more emphasis on the patterns of our thinking, in relation to our behaviour”, she says.
Cognitive and behavioural therapies have merged since the 1980s to become cognitive behavioural therapy. As its techniques are rigorously evaluated, applying scientific evidence rather than anecdote, CBT is now morphing into its fourth dimension: mindfulness-based CBT (MBCBT).
“Mindfulness on its own has not been proven to be an effective intervention for depression or anxiety but mindfulness-based CBT has been proven to do this,” says Kambamettu. “But given that mindfulness, CBT and mindfulness-based CBT are all the buzz words at the moment, and where a lot of research money has been targeted, it’s important to remember that there are many approaches to lots of different types of problems.”

The biopsychosocial model
According to cognitive psychotherapist and chair of the CBT section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy, Anne Marie Reynolds, everybody can benefit from CBT.
“CBT is based on an individual assessment and conceptualisation of a person’s presenting problem. It also uses Socratic dialogue to assist a person gain insights that can facilitate the change process,” says Reynolds, who adds that how we view events is based on beliefs that have been formed in childhood and are really important in understanding how you are in the world today.

Cognitive psychotherapy adheres to the biopsychosocial model; disease attributed to the complex, variable interaction of biological, psychological and social factors. In layman’s terms: everything is connected.
Depending on the presenting problem, CBT can serve as an effective alternative to antidepressants, says Reynolds, who lectures students on the cognitive psychotherapy masters course in Trinity College.
“So someone who is experiencing suicidal depression, or who is hearing voices, will need medication in conjunction with cognitive psychotherapy. But most anxiety-presenting problems can be treated without medication. Long term, CBT helps the person manage and understand the predisposing factors, so it works at a deeper level.”
Post-traumatic stress disorder is but one case in point: medication will help treat some of the symptoms, but not the underlying trauma of the experience. Similarly, an antidepressant is not likely to change our view of ourselves.
Separating fact from fiction in the thought process
“CBT can be used really effectively for diagnoses such as alcohol treatment, drug abuse, depression or anxiety,” says counsellor and psychotherapist Siobhán Murray.
“What it wouldn’t be used for would be more clinical areas, such as borderline personality disorders. It just wouldn’t make enough of an impact . . . But as with any treatment, somebody has to want to change their behaviour. CBT changes the first thought process, asking if that thought is fact or fiction. Is it based on something real or something they fear happening, in which case it is not fact.”
But what if you’re just naturally a glass-half-empty sort of person?
“We all need a certain level of anxiety in order to motivate us to do certain things. But it’s only when those levels of anxiety impact us, or those around us, on a daily basis that it becomes an issue and needs to be addressed.”
Murray offers a six-week CBT programme, during which deeper issues are sometimes revealed, to be dealt with in later weeks and months. And to help participants avoid slipping back into their old thought patterns after the programme is finished, Murray gets them to journal.

She also suggests that two or three months after the course has finished participants should come back for a final, or near-final, session and possibly again for a final session a few months after that, in order to check in on what are the triggers sending one back to old thought patterns.
“I bring in a lot of gratitude into CBT. It involves daily repetition. You have possibly spent 20 years in a thought pattern that hasn’t been serving you well, and you are now trying to change it in six weeks. It’s about continual practise and been consistently aware of your thought behaviour patterns.”

Telling your psychotherapist from your charlatan
Before committing to CBT, ensure your would-be psychotherapist is suitably qualified, accredited and experienced. In other words, vet him or her like you would for a wannabe employee. Just like with some mindfulness facilitators passing themselves off as “therapists” across the country, some alleged “cognitive psychotherapists” have no training or experience of working in mental health.
“There are a lot of people who call themselves cognitive psychotherapists who are not adequately trained or qualified,” says Reynolds.
“They should have an undergraduate qualification in a relevant, health-related field and a post-graduate qualification to master’s level, which means they have continued professional development, ongoing clinical supervision and engage in reflective practice. That is certainly not the case for everybody who purports to be a practising cognitive psychotherapist.”
The first stop for those interested in CBT is the website of Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy Ireland (, an accreditation body for cognitive behavioural psychotherapy. It is part of the umbrella body of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy that represents more than 1,500 psychotherapists in the country.

Similarly, the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy identifies, develops and maintains professional standards of excellence in its professions, serving as a trustworthy link between those looking for counselling/psychotherapy and those who provide it.
When looking for a psychotherapist, don’t be afraid to ask about his or her background, training and experience, no matter what his or her therapeutic modality (eg, psychoanalytical, integrative, constructivist or cognitive behavioural psychotherapist).
However, a cognitive psychotherapist is unquestionably the best suited professional when it comes to CBT. Like in most professions, one size doesn’t fit all.

Next best thing: the online CBT course
The most effective results from CBT arise from several one-to-one sessions with an accredited cognitive psychotherapist, over the course of months, or even years. A multi-week CBT programme will help you learn the skills of CBT, but may not go deep enough in fully understanding the triggers fired off each day by our core beliefs.
Should money and time prevent one-to-one sessions, a third and last (some psychotherapists would argue) option is an online CBT course. Chief among them is on the A Lust for Life which you can find online.

However, treat it and other free online CBT courses as you would a two-minute trailer of a feature-length movie you’d like to see in the cinema – a worthy introductory snippet to encourage you to embark upon the real thing.

In addition, is an excellent resource for mental health tools, including user-friendly guidelines for CBT.

Church teaches Education Minister Richard Bruton a lesson on divestment

Nobody does it better. Nobody manages to manipulate events and people in order to retain power, and particularly money, better than the Catholic Church.
And sure, why wouldn’t they? Nobody has been around as long, survived and prospered through empires and wars, held sway over the lives of millions, for good and ill. Through it al,l the institution has retained the ability to get what it wants on its own terms.
The announcement this week by Education Minister Richard Bruton about plans to divest — the new term is apparently “reconfigure” — patronage from Catholic primary schools speaks volumes.

Bruton comes across as genuine in his attempts to mould a primary school system befitting the society it serves. Currently, around 94% of the country’s 2,800 schools are under the patronage of the Catholic Church. This system sprang from the 19th century, long before the rise of Parnell, 1916, and the electrification of rural Ireland.
Yet today, in the 21st century, the system persists. Despite the flight from the flock, despite the wishes of a substantial minority for a more appropriate education for their children, the Church maintains its grip.

Many bishops have pleaded that they wish to see ordered change, yet a suspicion arises that they harbour a mental reservation invoking St Augustine’s “make me pure, but not yet”.
Five years ago Bruton’s predecessor, Ruairi Quinn, attempted to tackle the problem. He set up the Forum For Patronage and Pluralism, which came to the conclusion that things had to change.

That body, peopled largely by educationalists, determined that change would initially come in the form of identifying 28 locations where patronage could transfer from the church to another body. Twenty-eight out of more than 2,500 isn’t exactly earth-shattering change, but even that couldn’t be managed. So far, just 10 schools have been divested from the Church.
Among the forum’s many recommendations was one that stipulated that there should be no cost to the exchequer for divestment. This might seem reasonable, considering the State’s role in education, but it was met with resistance within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. What we have we hold, was the attitude.

Just don’t mention the hundreds of millions still owed by the Church to the State for the victims of child abuse. (And yes, the latter is owed by congregations rather than the dioceses which generally act as patron, but it’s all part of the one, true Church).

There is no doubt but that the bishops didn’t like the proposals. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, a lonely progressive voice in the hierarchy, admitted as much in November 2015.
“I think that some of what I would call educational establishment in the Catholic Church are dragging their feet… Admittedly communities don’t like change, teachers don’t like change, they’re not the only ones. I do feel, though, that we can’t just go on talking. We have to really start showing things now,” he said.

Step forward Richard Bruton. He is taking another run at it. He quite obviously weighed up how far the Church might be willing to shift and designed his plan accordingly.
Now, local education training boards (ETBs) will conduct surveys to determine where patronage should be “reconfigured”. The minister’s initial target is for 150 schools to be transferred.
Where schools are transferred, the Church will be paid rent. This could be of the order of €10,000-€20,000 per annum, which would see up to €3m handed over each year to the bishops if 150 schools were reconfigured or transferred. So much for redesigning the manner in which the State’s children are educated for no additional cost.
Not just that, but the Church will also decide to whom patronage is transferred. One would have thought that in a functioning democracy, such a decision would be made by some instrument of State. Instead, the departing institution actually gets to anoint its successor patron.

THERE is another issue. The ETBs will determine where schools should transfer from Catholic patronage, but the board is also a patron itself, through its 11 national schools.
The ETB schools, established in 2008, are multi-denominational, but at the outset, heavy lobbying by the Catholic Church ensured that faith formation classes and sacrament preparation is conducted during the school day. Some might see such activity as contrary to inclusivity in a multi-denominational school, but the Church got its way.
There is, quite obviously, a glaring conflict of interest for the ETBs, acting as both quasi vendor in determining where schools should be divested, and purchaser in applying to be the new patron.

And to whom is the Church most likely to favour with transferring patronage? Well, it would be advisable to keep in with the ETBs, as they decide where transfer occurs. In addition, the provision of sacrament preparation within school hours would find favour with the Church when deciding to whom it wishes to hand on the baton.
Educate Together’s Paul Rowe has criticised the obvious conflicts of interest inherent in the proposals. He has a point. Educate Together, along with other patrons in gaelscoileanna, are completely disadvantaged in the system, and the goal of choice for parents is equally constrained.

It’s difficult to envisage proposals more tailored to the requirements of the Church as opposed to wider society in general and parents in particular.
The way things stand, the Church will be in a position to continue having a wider influence on schooling than is appropriate for society today.

Bruton does appear genuine in his efforts to do something. The stark reality, though, is that the Church has him wrapped neatly around its finger.
Michael Clifford

Oral testimony of German travellers to Ireland between 1828 and 1850 ( edited version)

Puckler-Muskau in 1828: ‘The dirt, poverty and ragged dress of the common man is beyond belief!’ The outlying districts were of a kind incomparable to anything yet seen. Pigsties are palaces in comparison and I often saw numerous groups of children (for the fertility of the Irish people is equal to their misery) as naked as on the day they were born and wallowing about in the slime of the street with the ducks. In Athenry, they were more poverty-stricken than any Polish village. I was pursued across ruins and brambles by a huge crowd of half-naked beggars who tried every possible flattery on me including the cry ‘Long live the King!’. ‘When I threw a handful of coppers among them, soon half of them, young and old, lay in the mud grappling bloodily while the others rushed off to the shebeen to drink their gains.’
On fighting: ‘Going through Galway and Kenmare I lunched in a tavern where I once more had the opportunity to watch several such set-tos. First a mob forms, screaming and shouting, and becomes more and more dense, then in the batting of an eyelid a hundred shillelaghs are swishing through the air and one hears the thumps, usually applied to the head, banging and cracking away until one party has gained victory. As I found myself at the source, I solicited the help of the inn-keeper to buy one of the most splendid samples of the weapon, still warm from the battle.

On being happy: ‘The people always seem to be in good spirits and sometimes demonstrate in public such fits of gaiety that border on the lunatic. Whiskey is often to blame: I saw one half-naked youth performing the national dance on the market-place with such abandon and for so long that he became fully exhausted and collapsed unconscious like a Mohammedan Dervish to the vociferous cheers of the crowd. Our driver blew his horn, as in Germany, a signal from the mail-coach to get out of its way. However, the sound was so distorted and pathetic that everyone burst into laughter. "A pretty 12-year-old lad, who looked like joy personified, though almost naked, let out a mischievous cheer, and called after the driver in his impotent rage: 'Hey you! Your trumpet must have a dose of the sniffles, it's as hoarse as me auld grandmother. Give it a drop of the craythur or it'll die of consumption before ye reach Galway!' "A crowd of men were working on the road. They had heard the feeble sound from the horn, and all laughed and cheered as the coach went by. "'There you are, that's our people for you,' said my companion. 'Starvation and laughter – that is their lot. Do you suppose that even with the amount of workers and the lack of jobs that any of these earn, have enough to eat his fill? And yet each of them will put aside something to give to his priest, and when anyone enters his cabin, he will share his last potato with them and crack a joke besides.' 

On Landlordism: ‘Lord Powerscourt is one of those absentees landlords, who by the hands of his ravenous and merciless agents strip the people of their last rag and rob them of their last potatoes to enrich the courtesans of London, Paris and Italy’. 

On Religion: ‘In Kilcummin there is not a single parishioner, and the service, which according to law must be performed once a year, is enacted in a ruin with the help of a Catholic clerk…  But not a whit less must the non-attending parishioners pay the uttermost farthing of their tithes and dues; and no claims are so bitterly enforced as those of this Christian Church—there is no pity, at least none for Catholics. A man who cannot pay the rent of the church land he farms, or his tithes to the parson, inevitably sees his cow and his pig sold (furniture, bed, etc. he has long lost), and himself, his wife, and probably a dozen children (for nothing propagates as well as potatoes and misery) thrust out onto the road, where he is left to the mercy of that Providence who feeds the fowls of the air and cloths the lilies of the field. Quelle excellente chose qu’une religion d’état!’

On hatred: There is one County Galway Orangeman so immersed in bile wishes for nothing more than an Irish rebellion so that the blood of five million Catholics would flow, for according to this gentleman only the wholesale extermination of that race would bring peace to the island. These men speak of nothing but hunting and riding and are somewhat ignorant. Today, for instance, a landlord from the vicinity [of Athenry] searched long, patiently and in vain for the United States on the map of Europe’. All Catholic children in Ireland are carefully instructed and can at least read, whereas the Protestants are often extremely ignorant’.

Johann Georg Kohl in 1842: 
‘On poverty: Paddy has enough houses in which there is no sign of a window but only a single square hole in the front which functions as a window, chimney, front-door and stable-door, for light, smoke, people and pigs all saunter in and out of this one hole… It might not sound pleasant to everyone’s ears but it is a simple fact that the Irishman feeds his pig just as well as his children. Without exception it is accepted into the living-room and lives there doing what it likes, or has a little corner for itself just as the children have theirs. The pig is of the utmost importance as a financial fall-back in case the rent could not be found. The empty houses and ruins are ascribed to the cruel evictions by landlords and middlemen and the enforced emigration of the poor. The dwellings are dilapidated and the fields badly cultivated because the frequently absent landlord gave no support to improving them. Very many Irish peasants are only ‘tenants at will’, i.e. they have their lease only as long as it suits the landlord to leave it to them. These people cannot develop any great interest in improving their land because they can never be sure that they will not be driven from it at any moment.
I met a ragged Kerryman who cherishingly carried a manuscript around with him which contained ancient Irish poems as well as a translation into Irish of a scientific treatise by Aristotle. ‘I often found such old manuscripts in the hands of the common people of Ireland’. One day I visited a schoolhouse that was nothing more than a mud cottage covered with grass and without windows or comforts. The small schoolchildren sat wrapped in their tatters at the open low door of the cottage and held their little books in the direction of the door to catch the scanty light that penetrated the darkness…  The teacher, dressed in the Irish national costume described above, sat in their midst. Outside the door lay as many pieces of turf as there were children within. Each boy had brought a piece of turf as tribute and remuneration for the teacher…  He taught the little ones the English alphabet. The boys looked very sprightly, fresh and bright-eyed while engaged in their studies, and when one considers their poverty, their diet and their clothing, then it seems extraordinary that this is the case with all Irish children, at least those in the open countryside.’

Jakob Venedey in 1843:
‘In a slum dwelling the children looked as if they have never been washed, and the old people as if water costs money’—as well as their indolence—one only has to observe the idle in the street corners or on the thresholds to see how they relish doing nothing’. There is little reason for else for there is less hope.  Yet in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, the Irish could work the English into the ground. The Irishman is a clever man and will not work like an animal where he cannot reap. He is a most diligent day labourer when the day’s work yields him a day’s wages, be it ever so little. But the moment he senses that he is working for someone else whom he hates, and that with good reason, then he sits down and looks on’

On drinking: ’Whiskey was to the Irish what “firewater” had been to the American Indians. But the newly awakened sense of national identity among the peasantry makes them conscious that it was one of the sources of their slavery.’ They are on their way towards invalidating the image of the Irishman who was addlebrained from drink and therefore incapable of self-government. I observed a certain unsettling of those who benefited from such stereotyping. This is a quote from the speech of a Protestant anti-Repeal politician in Dublin who obviously felt more at ease with the image of the brawling, chaotic Catholic nature:
“Remember that there are times when the Devil finds it expedient to wear a white cloak. Has Ireland’s time come? A temperance movement is no doubt a very plausible undertaking. And yet it is clear that it has instilled a military regularity into the masses and has lent their behaviour a measure of self-control and order that has turned them into dangerous opponents of English rule. Who, then, can truthfully state that the temperance movement is the good thing it is made out to be?”

On conflict and division:
‘Tolerance in schools will destroy the intolerance outside them. It is impossible for blind hatred to prevail among people who have gone to school together, sat beside one another and grown up together in work and play’. The Catholics are the miserable leftover of the indigenous population once driven from their land and trade, the Protestants the descendants of the English and Scots brought here to anglicise the country. The English character is predominant—the people look more earnest, tidier and unhappier. The inn-keepers in Belfast have faces ‘as surly, severe and grave as a bad conscience. It was not possible to get them talking, while in the rest of Ireland one only had to knock on the door for it to be opened and to breach the surface ever so slightly to tap an eternal spring.
Belfast is England’s watchtower over Ireland. If the English had set out to invent an institution to keep alive forever the Irish people’s memory of the wrong that England had done against them and to perpetuate the idea that the one group were the vanquished, the other the victors, the one the slaves, the other the masters, they could not have invented anything better than those Orange Lodges with their marches. It is part of the British tactic of ‘divide and rule’ to counteract the earlier co-operation between progressive Presbyterians and Catholics—the United Irishmen of 1798—and their common aim of an independent Ireland. Ireland’s future
rests on the reconciliation of the Old and New Irish, and if this does not come about by one means or another, Ireland—the whole of Ireland, North and South—will enter upon an epoch of destruction and barbarity.’

Moritz Hartmann in 1850:
‘One of the saddest monuments in Dublin is the former House of Commons, where once at least a shadow of liberty resided and now England rules with its money. For the House of Commons has been transformed into a bank. On one spot, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, English soldiers live out their comfortable old age, and right beside it are shanty towns of single-roomed mud cabins without windows, settlements that one would not have considered possible near a large city, inhabited by emaciated, brutish figures no longer capable of happiness: born rachitic, they grow up starving and die from consumption. The Irishman is no lazzarone by nature; he works willingly to earn his daily bread. But he likes to do it while enjoying life and revolts against the brutalising stress and strain that the Englishman demands… Because of the way England and the modern world has arranged production, millions have to vegetate and perish at the plough, the machines and in the mines so that some few can live in wealthy leisure. Nature, wherein lies truth and to which the Irishman is very close, rebels in him against this exploitation and stultification.’

On oppression:
‘The suffering that England had inflicted for centuries on Ireland has become incurable and can no longer be cut out like a tumour; instead it will go on corroding and destroying, perhaps even England itself. The English are still conquerors in Ireland. Everywhere one perceives in Dublin a conquered city: soldiers, a rarity in London, are here innumerable; at every turn one encounters red-coated hordes. Everywhere there are barracks of enormous size, and the castle in the centre of the city is a veritable fortress. Even the streets and the houses show how an English character has been forced upon the conquered city to persuade it that the history of England and the glory of England is also its history and glory. Most of the streets, with the exception of the oldest, bear famous English names. Moore Street is the only one that has an Irish name of more recent times. Otherwise one reads Grafton Street, Cumberland Street etc., the latter being named after the high-born gentleman who led the bloody Orangemen in hunting down Irishmen… In the magnificent Sackville Street stands Nelson upon his column, and from the Phoenix Park a pyramid with the names of Wellington’s battlefields dominates the city. Ireland would have preferred to see both heroes conquered rather than victorious. But what’s the use? England treats Ireland the way a bad parent brings up a child: it is forced to swallow the food it doesn’t like.’

Compiled originally by Eoin Bourke (Professor of German at University College Galway.)