Thursday, March 9, 2017
Government policy that religious share liability, but contribution stands at just €192m
The child abuse inquiry and subsequent redress scheme set up to compensate people who suffered abuse in institutions run by the religious orders cost €1.5 billion to the end of 2015, according to Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) Séamus McCarthy.
The redress scheme cost €1.25 billion by the end of 2015, which is five times the
original estimate of €250 million.
And while the scheme is now largely complete, there will be ongoing costs arising from continuing supports for those affected.
It is Government policy that the religious orders involved should share equal liability. But as of end 2015 the total contributions made by them is €192 million, according to a report published Thursday.
Of the total cost of €1.25 billion arising from the awards scheme, the actual awards came to €970 million while legal fees were €192.9 million. And 98 per cent of applicants relied on legal advice when seeking redress, according to the report from the C&AG.
The bulk (85 per cent) of the awards, of which there were 15,579, were for less than €100,000 and the average was €62,250. The highest award was €300,000.
Seven legal firms earned fees of between €5 million and €19 million, and 17 were paid between €1 million and €5 million. There were also 967 legal firms that received less than €1 million in fees.
In 2002 an indemnity agreement was signed between the State and 18 religious congregations, which meant the State became liable for any claims made against them. It was agreed to contribute cash, property and other resources totalling €128 million, noted the C&AG’s report. At the end of 2015, €21 million of this remained to be transferred to the State.
Since then the indemnity was invoked 33 times, leading to awards totalling €4.4 million being paid by the State, with the associated legal costs exceeding this at €5.7 million.
After the publication in 2009 of the Ryan Report, the congregations offered additional cash and property of €353 million. In September 2015 this total was revised downwards, to €226 million, when, according to the report, the Department of Education said the Christian Brothers had withdrawn an offer of school playing fields and associated lands valued at €127 million.
In the six-year period to December 2015, only €85 million, or 38 per cent, of the additional €226 million has been received by the State, according to the C&AG’s report.
“There is no legal obligation regarding the outstanding €141 million. The timeline for receiving those contributions is not clear.”
The Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse, which led to the Ryan Report, was set up in 1999 and cost an estimated €82 million. The Department of Education had initially come up with an estimate of €2.5 million. The cost of the commission is additional to the redress scheme.
The redress scheme was run by the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which was established in 2002. The C&AG said that if the redress scheme had not been established, the legal costs from people going to court seeking compensation would have been “substantially higher” than those that arose through the scheme. And the backlog of cases in the courts might have been substantial.
As well as paying towards the commission and the redress scheme, the State also spent €176 million supporting former residents of the institutions in relation to health, housing, and educational and counselling supports.
Minister for Education Richard Bruton expressed frustration and disappointment at the lack of progress by the religious congregations in meeting the costs of residential institutional child abuse.
The bulk of the people who received support had been committed by the courts to industrial schools, reformatories and other institutions, in the period 1936 to 1970.
Let’s face it. One of the greatest challenges a family caregiver confronts is navigating priorities. You are constantly pushed and pulled, tugged and shoved in a hundred different directions, needing to make a hundred different decisions that dictate someone’s well being.
After a while, though, isn’t the temptation to succumb overwhelming? Don’t you just want to curl up in a ball and cry? Maybe you’ve even done this and it’s okay. But, before you discover one solution to this despair, you first need to understand the heart of the matter.
Before going further, let me tell you what this article is not. It’s not Seven Tips to Great Caregiving. Instead, it is a distillation of just one tip. And in my estimation it is the most important.
At its core, the true source of a family caregiver’s dilemma has to do with an innate battle of wills. On the one hand, a caree one needs help during a critical juncture in his or her life. Every fiber in your being tells you that there is no other choice but to extend support in whatever way you can.
On the other hand is a source of wisdom that stands a great chance of being stifled if you are not ever so careful.
This is your voice of self-preservation, meant to not just steer you away from danger, but optimize your vital force, allowing you to continue your precious existence. I doubt it will come as any surprise in telling you that all too often the former (giving) wins in this tumultuous tug of war.
The price paid can be just as dear as your caree’s life which you attempt to improve. What is the final product then? Is it two sick individuals instead of just one? It may be, but it doesn’t have to be. I believe you have a choice.
Essentially, what you have to decide and reconcile is your love for yourself with the love for your caree. They are not mutually exclusive. To love and care for another comes from first doing the same for yourself. You may feel that if you take those all-important steps in attending to your own needs, you abandon the caree. The only real way to sustainably help the person you care about is to make sure your help emanates from a place of strength, a solid foundation of self-love, self-attention, and self-care.
In fact, you do have the ability to reconcile this dilemma. Selflessness and continually giving will provide a fast-track to burn-out, personal health problems, emotional anguish, and mental weariness. Understanding what happens when you go down this road is the first step to awareness of the issues. After all, how can you correct a problem if you don’t dissect it?
And it is not as if there are just a few examples around us of family caregivers giving all they’ve got and then some. It is an epidemic and typically the norm, not the exception. How many people do you personally know that have helped a family caregiver or work as a professional caregiver? And out of these individuals, how many of them had a network of support and made sure their own needs were met, in addition to the person for whom they care? A minority, right?
Unfortunately, more often than not, the guilt talk begins, which often stems from society’s promotion of selflessness and altruism.The guilt here is not simply self-defeating but self-destructive. It will not serve you here so you need to lose it.
Now, let’s do a little theater. Some of you may recall the old Saturday Night Live skit in which Stuart Smalley, played by Al Franken, demonstrates his daily affirmations by speaking in to a mirror, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.” I remember watching these classic episodes growing up in high school and college.
Recognize that you are more than just good enough. Your caree’s continued success might depend on your good health two years or ten years from now, not just tomorrow. Besides, putting this off is “stinkin’ thinkin,” according to Stuart.
At the end of the day, it is the family caregiver who shows up that is important. Tthe fulfilled family caregiver, the cared-for family caregiver, will show up with a smile on his or her face, with patience to manage adversity, and with resilience to overcome the inevitable challenges that arise. Let’s strive to make this the norm. Let any guilt you may feel in taking your necessary personal time wash off your back and down the drain.
It is time we foster the next generation of healthy family caregivers with optimal self-awareness and support to continue their beautiful and essential art. Please join me in making this a reality.
Dr Forrest Beck
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Lee Parker was driving home from Raphoe, Co Donegal, when he saw Richie Barron on the side of the road. It was just outside the town in the early hours of October 14, 1996.
Parker assumed Barron was drunk. He had seen Richie earlier that evening coming out of a pub in the town, looking the worse for wear.
Parker stopped and got out. “I was going to tell his son to come and get him but I saw the blood,” he said later. There was a lot of blood flowing from Richie’s head onto the roadway.
Richie Barron had been a cattle dealer in his 50s, who lived in and around Raphoe all his life. Within 48 hours, his death would be classified as a murder investigation. The scene where he was found was not preserved. The State pathologist did not attend the scene.
The focus of the investigation soon turned on an incident that had occurred earlier in the evening in the Town and Country pub. Barron had been in a minor altercation with another local man, Mark McConnell, who was 25 years Barron’s junior.
Six weeks later, McConnell and his cousin Frank McBrearty Jr were arrested and detained in Letterkenny Garda Station. The men would allege they were ill-treated in custody. Therein, McBrearty was alleged to have confessed to the murder. In reality, he had nothing to do with Barron’s death.
Frank McBrearty Jnr. (right) with his cousin Mark McConnell.
Within days, 10 members of the extended McBrearty family or associates of theirs were arrested. Over the following months, there would be further arrests and numerous incidence of harassment of the family, including at its business in the town.
It would take another two years before an internal garda investigation recommended that no prosecution be taken. In 2001, Barron’s body was exhumed. Following an examination by the state pathologist, his death was reclassified as a hit and run. Mr Brearty Jr and Mr McConnell were finally ruled out as suspects in the death.
The following year, the Morris Tribunal was set up to examine the conduct of the gardaí in Donegal arising out of the investigation into Riche Barron’s death and various other activities.
Over the following six years, the conduct and operation of the gardaí in Donegal was laid bare in public hearings. Some of it resembled an episode of Keystone Cops, with officers driving around the county in the company of civilian women, drinking vodka and planting explosives to be subsequently “discovered” by the diligent vodka drinkers.
The stuff that emerged about the treatment of the McBreartys was chilling in places. This was a family that had been targeted and then subjected to severe harassment by the law enforcement agency. Only for Frank McBrearty’s resources, and his astute retention of a private investigator, the whole thing may have gone undetected.
Supreme Court judge Peter Charleton.
Eventually, the State made settlements with the family running into millions.
Morris was supposed to herald a new dawn for An Garda Síochána. The dirty linen was washed, some members hung out to dry. Reform was all the rage by the time the tribunal delivered its sixth and final report in 2008.
Twenty years on from the death of Richie Barron, what has changed? Not much, according to Frank McBrearty Jr.
“It will never be changed until the political will is there to change it,” he says. He believes that the latest public inquiry — the Charleton Tribunal — will be a waste of time.
“Why do you need a public inquiry if you’ve got a police authority,” he says. “What’s the point.”
Since being drawn into the public sphere, McBrearty went on to be elected as a county councillor for the Labour Party. He believes people like him should have been appointed to the Police Authority if there is to be any prospect of change.
“How can you put the head of revenue in charge of the policing authority. I’m a politician. I should have been asked to go on as an advisor. I should have been invited onto the Policing Authority.”
Frank McBrearty Jnr leaving the Morris Tribunal.
A few weeks ago, Mr McBrearty says he was visited by two gardaí who wanted to talk to him about his knowledge of who he thinks was actually responsible for the death of Richie Barron. He maintains he knows who the culprit is. The fact that the death is still being investigated over 20 years later probably says it all about how much has changed since 1996.
Three weeks ago, the commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullvan, issued a release in which she said she was leading a force that was now a “beacon of 21st century policing”. The statement followed a suggestion that she might want to consider whether to step aside or not while a tribunal investigates the alleged smearing of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe.
There was a problem with whistleblowing in Donegal. Judge Morris identified that if junior officers had been listened to earlier on, much of the fallout could have been avoided. There is still a problem with whistleblowers, as the treatment of McCabe illustrates.
But that is just symptomatic of a wider malaise within the force. Despite a changing of the law in the wake of Morris to incorporate reform, the culture of the force remains the same. That culture ensures that any mistake or ineptitude is not properly addressed if it reflects badly on senior officers.
Such a culture feeds all the way down into the maw of an organisation where the ethic seems to be to get by and keep going with the least amount of fuss.
This was evident in the latest story to emerge from the force. An audit by the Medical Bureau of Road Safety found that there was a major discrepancy in the number of road disposable mouthpieces used to test for drink driving, and the recording of breath tests on the Pulse computer system.
In a survey in the Cork/Kerry area, there were 17% more tests recorded on Pulse than mouthpieces used. This could only be down to either sloppiness, or an effort to make it look like more work was being done on road safety than actually was the case.
Similarly, when another outside agency — the Central Statistics Office — began examining crime figures, further questions were raised about how crime is measured.
Why is it that these types of issues only emerge when an outside agency examines what’s going on in the force?
One mid-ranking guard operating in the Munster region told the Irish Examiner that the problems inherent in the force stem from a failure in management.
“Most of it is down to a disconnect between management and what is happening on the ground,” he said.
“I’ve worked in the city too and it’s a bit different there. Supers and inspectors in city stations will come down and see what’s happening, even in custody areas. They know if anything goes wrong it will go wrong big so they stay in touch.
“That’s not the same outside the cities. The super will lock himself in his room, and make sure not to rock the boat. If there’s problems, they might get into a tangle with the representative bodies and if seen to be rocking the boat that could affect chances of a promotion back to the city.”
Undoubtedly, within the senior ranks there are many who do the job as diligently as possible, but the theme of management managing primarily to avoid hassle pops up repeatedly.
This was touched on by deputy chief inspector of the Garda Inspectorate Mark Toland at an Oireachtas committee hearing last October.
“The current garda culture is inhibiting change,” he said, pointing out that recent scandals and inquiries could have been avoided if recommendations from the Inspectorate and Morris had been implemented.
“While staff identified positives such as a ‘can do’ culture and a sense of duty, many described the organisation as insular, defensive, with a blame culture where many leaders are reluctant to make decisions and to speak up.”
The mid-ranking garda in Munster points to the most basic of operational issues in this regard — the duty roster. For the last few years, the gardaí have been on 10-hour shifts, from 10pm to 8am, 7am to 5pm and midday to 10pm.
The overlap in shifts between midday and 5pm often finds some members twiddling their thumbs, or looking for something to do. As of now, there is no sign of any urgency to tackle what appears to be a basic problem.
On a macro level, there are other obvious problems. Retired Chief Supt John O’Brien points to the regionalisation of the force that was initiated in the mid-90s.
This was in response to controversies around the murders of two people in the Clare/Galway region, amid claims that there had been poor communication between neighbouring divisions in the region.
“That regionalisation introduced another tier of management,” O’Brien says. “There was six or seven more assistant commissioners brought into the guards. The effect was to increase the vertical orientation of the organisation.
“The aim is to have it as flat as possible. You don’t need intermediate steps, that lessens communication and changes responsibilities. So that was one of the most significant changes.”
O’Brien says that following Morris, the gardaí produced an analysis of the issues tackled in the report, but after that nothing much happened.
“The missing bit was the political will to drive the changes on,” he says.
“There is an impetus to push the guards over the line in making the changes that are required. The last reforming minister in that respect was Michael McDowell. There has been no real drive to change since then.”
Drive from the top of the organisation itself is another matter. The current commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, certainly talks the talk when it comes to change.
Now, however, the top management, including herself, will be up to their necks in dealing with the Charleton Tribunal while trying to grapple with the desperately needed change within the organisation.
At a public meeting with the Policing Authority recently, Ms O’Sullivan was asked repeatedly how she will manage to drive change while the tribunal will be in full flow, raking over uncomfortable issues for the guards.
She repeatedly reverted to polished management speak. What was missing through was the slightest hint that anything had really changed beyond the construction of a myriad of management structures.
Twenty years on from the events that led to the biggest exposure of garda practices in the history of the State, we have another tribunal which will examine whether garda management organised a smear campaign against a member who was highlighting malpractice within the force.
The more things change…
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The use of words as a weapon for subterfuge is as old as the discovery of writing itself. Without prejudice or judgment, I could not help observe a headline in an newspaper in April of 2013: ‘Petrel shares soar as it eyes major oil find of the west coast.’ The article, honestly written I had hoped by the writer John Mulligan, made me wary in itself, for eyeing oil as opposed to finding it is two very different things altogether. Further into the article, this view was strengthened when John wrote that Petrel reckons that its Quad licensing block could hold several hundred millions barrels of oil. That word 'could' just about stopped me pulling out my cheque book, and there might have been enough money in it too to be able to buy perhaps some over inflated shares. At least I reckoned so. The highlighted words are the cornerstone of his article below and worth reading between the lines.
Previous estimates by Petrel estimated that its Quad 35 could produce even more of the dark stuff, and I don’t mean Guinness, at over a billion barrels of oil. Petrel also stated that they have long believed that the Porcupine Basin is a hydro carbon province. At this point I started to get real nervous, wondering perhaps too loudly, that maybe this place is a breeding ground for just porcupines or another country. Mr Horgan, a serial entrepreneur and managing director of Petrel, was looking for partners even though he has one too many already, otherwise called shareholders, told me also that floating shares alone would not be enough to bring this baby home.
Even as far back as early Nov 2012, a similar article by this same newspaper saw Petrel shares jump from 6 pence a share to €18.75, a rise of 300%. But what goes up must come down, especially if all those expectations turn to be a little less than overly optimistic.
By Sept 2013 the truth of the matter, the little there was leaking out, showed seepage of a worrying kind if you bought shares in this company. New words instead of oil were brought in by Petrel, and to help contain the damage, there went John Mulligan again who wrote then: "The last ten months, according to Teeling, chairman of Petrel and another serial entrepreneur, has seen rapid progress, and price appreciation. “ We now have momentum, and good partners in Ireland and Iraq and have plans to move forward.” These Irish and Iraq partners, are I presume, those once hopelessly optimistic shareholders. Despite having other strategic partners as well and while Telling continued to process data, Petrel shares and profits continued to fall. John Mulligan, bless his little heart, had a slight change of one. He reported in the last 2 lines of that still otherwise optimistic article, if you could even call it reporting, that Petrel made a pre- tax loss of €247,000 in the first six months of 2012, and that amount again in the same period for 2013.
Oh, I almost forgot: their share price had fallen to €11.75 by the end of 2014 and continued to fall a lot more than the 6% fall claimed by mulligan. As of March 2017 Petrel shares were worth little more than €5.00 each.
All of this heady talk of shares, oil, and possible wealth, had me scratching my head. I digressed in thought while waiting to stop the itch and this one memory would not leave my mind. It was a departing alcoholic politician who was very fond of the black stuff, rather jowly in appearance, rather dour in the immediate circumstance that he found himself in, and was looking evenly at the media that had gathered around him, and used part of a sentence to explain the greatest financial meltdown this country of ours had ever faced or ever will face (I hope) and said this: “Based on the information we had at the time……………………………..”
This is John Mulligan’s article before the fall: Irish Independent 03 April 2013
‘Petrel shares soar as it eyes major oil find of the west coast.’
‘Petrel shares soar as it eyes major oil find of the west coast.’
THERE may be hundreds of millions of barrels of oil untapped beneath a section of the Atlantic being probed by exploration minnow Petrel Resources, the company has claimed.
The firm, chaired by serial entrepreneur John Teeling, says that it has completed initial survey work on its two licensing options in the Porcupine Basin, 200km off the west coast.
It reckons that its so-called Quad 45 licensing block could hold "several hundred million barrels" of oil.
It has previously estimated that Petrel's Quad 35 licensing area in the Porcupine Basin could contain more than one billion barrels of oil.
Such finds, if proven and commercially exploitable, would rank among the world's biggest oilfields.
Oil giant ExxonMobil has just commenced a $160m (€125m) test drilling programme in the Porcupine Basin at the so-called Dunquin prospect in which Irish firm Providence Resources has a 16pc stake.
Petrel's licensing areas are just 35km from the Dunquin area.
"We have long believed that the offshore Porcupine Basin is a hydrocarbon province," said Petrel managing director David Horgan.
"This has been further supported by our recent work in identifying potential prospects on both of our blocks. The spudding of a well by Exxon Mobil in the nearby Dunquin prospect will add to the interest."
Mr Horgan said the company is now looking for potential partners to further advance its work on its own licence blocks in the area.
ExxonMobil will be drilling for up to 120 days off the west coast and is being supported by ships from the port of Cork. It's using a semi-submersible oil rig that it brought to Ireland from west Africa.
Previous data has suggested that there could be over 300 million barrels of oil and 8.5 trillion cubic feet of gas between the two Dunquin prospects.
That amount of gas would make a find about five times larger than the Kinsale field and about nine times bigger than Corrib.
New technology and sustained high oil prices have made the hunt for new reserves in deep water more commercially attractive in recent years.
The potential oil and gas reserves at Dunquin lie under about 3.6km of seabed at a water depth of 1.6km. At Petrel's licence areas, the water depths are between 700m and 1km.
Peter Lennon's film about Ireland called The Rocky Road To Dublin was feted at Cannes and adopted by the revolutionaries of 1968. But in his home country, cinemas refused to screen it. Peter Lennon explains why:
In the 1960s, I was a freelance journalist living in Paris and working for the Guardian, which sent me home to Ireland to cover the Dublin theatre festival. Soon after my arrival, my drinking friends began trying to convince me that Ireland had shed all its shackles. "Nobody pays any attention to the clergy," they said. "Censorship is a thing of the past." I didn't really care one way or another, living in Paris, but finally I asked the newspaper to let me stay on in Dublin for a few weeks. The result was a series of articles with headlines like Climate of Repression, Students in Blinkers, and Grey Eminence (about the archbishop of Dublin).
The uproar lasted more than a year.
I then got the idea - outlandish, for someone who had never shot a foot of film in his life - of making a film on these themes. In the result, Rocky Road to Dublin, completed in 1968, Irish society condemns itself out of its own mouth. Brainwashed school kids admit casually that their "their intellect was darkened, their will weakened and their passions inclined them to evil"; patriotic sportsmen confirm that any member of their organisation, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), who plays or even looks at a "foreign" game such as soccer or cricket will be expelled; university students of the newish republic tell how they are not allowed to discuss politics on campus. We counted up the modern writers who had works banned in Ireland: Truman Capote, André Gide, Hemingway, Orwell, Salinger, Wells. And Irish writers from Beckett to O'Casey to Shaw.
The Archbishop of Dublin, convinced he could outwit this renegade exile, had agreed to give me a "swinging priest" to follow for two days: Father Michael Cleary. Fr Cleary gave a perfect illustration of how Ireland's KGB - the clergy - operated. They were your father, your brother, your non-drinking drinking pal; they would sing the Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy for you if you were dying in hospital. They were there to remind you, in the friendliest way, of your inherent tendency to evil and extol the virtues of celibacy. (Decades later, we discovered that Cleary, who died in 1993, was seducing his 17-year-old "orphan" housekeeper, already a victim of child abuse, at the time we were filming him.)
Could I get this work past the censor? Observing no procedures, I arrived at the censor's office with the film under my arm and insisted on sitting in while he, a journalist I knew, did his job. After the viewing he said, memorably: "Since there is no sex in the film, Peter, there is nothing I can do against you."
But there was something they could do: they could stop it being screened in cinemas or on the television channel RTE. On Saturday, when we screen a new documentary, The Making of Rocky Road, at the Cork film festival, Ireland is going to discover for the first time how it smothered Rocky Road for three decades.
The press got a first glimpse of Rocky Road when I held a screening in Dublin. Sensing scandal, I was invited on to RTE's Late Late Show. The show had a hatchet-man - someone I knew. Two minutes before I was to go on air, he said to me: "Oh, hello, Peter. I just got back from America. I didn't know you'd made a film." Two minutes later he was on air informing the country that the film had been made with communist money. (Rocky Road was, in fact, fully financed by an American businessman friend, Victor Herbert, who notably backed the English production of Endgame in Paris.)
Later on, a tousled hack from the Irish Press appeared, saying: "The news editor just got me out of bed. I didn't get a chance to see your film." It didn't stop him writing: "The Ireland of Peter Lennon - for him all is blackness here, from birth to grave ... he fears he is wandering through a dark, dismal chilling tunnel ... he professes no religion."
In that brainwashed society, anyone who stepped outside the pale was assumed, in the most natural way, to have no rights. When I protested, the response was: "Jaysus, what did you expect?" Apart from the Irish Times, whose critic Fergus Linehan championed Rocky Road over and over, and later Sean Kearney in the old Sunday Independent, the press coverage was mostly atrocious.
I entered what was the first Irish feature-length film of any significance for the Cork film festival in 1967. How could they reject it? By disqualifying it on the grounds that it had had showings in Dublin - one screening for about 18 people. But, to the amazement of the Irish authorities, the film was selected to represent Ireland at the Cannes festival of 1968. The idea that an Irish feature film that was good enough for Cannes could not be screened at Ireland's only film festival was just too much.
So Cork gave us a screening. It was at lunchtime, on the day they had invited all the media out of town to a free oyster-and-Guinness lunch in Kenmore, 70 miles away. So we hired a hall the next day, causing more scandal. With the financial potential a scandal offers, one Dublin cinema took the film and ran it for seven weeks to gleeful audiences.
For the next three decades Rocky Road wasn't shown, except for some late-night screenings at small festivals in the 1990s. No cinema manager in Ireland wanted to offend the parish priest - or indeed himself - by showing it. It was out of the question that RTE, a tool of church and state, would ever transmit it.
The explosive power of this film was provided by Raoul Coutard, Godard's and Truffaut's "new wave" cameraman. Coutard's famous skill and intuition (he spoke almost no English) made it possible to get to the very comical, moving and dreadful soul of my fellow countrymen.
Then came a development that I still look back on with joyful disbelief. Imagine your country obliterates your first film and another country promptly decides to put on a revolution, apparently just for you. So it was that Cannes became a glorious revolutionary cradle for my poor, abused, exiled offspring.
The students and film makers shut down the 1968 festival in mid-flow, but somehow Rocky Road was the one film that spoke directly to the moment. Its explicit theme was: what do you do with your revolution once you've got it? That was exactly the question the students wanted answered. (Unfortunately, as far as Ireland 1916 was concerned, the answer was that you gave it back to the bourgeoisie and the clergy.) The students adopted Rocky Road and screened it in the vast amphitheatres of the Sorbonne, which was still besieged by riot police, and even passed it on to the workers occupying the Renault factory.
After that, we received a very different sort of press coverage: from Le Monde, Cahiers du Cinema, Positif, Paris Match; massive coverage in Life, a feature in the Herald Tribune ("Irish revolt stirs Sorbonne circuit"); and, from the New York Times, this judgment: "Rocky Road to Dublin makes it outrageous, if not impossible, for outsiders to ever again see Ireland only in comforting cliches."
We celebrated; Ireland persisted in sulking for decades. But the Irish Film Archive finally gave it a home. And last year, Rod Stoneman and the Irish Film Board agreed to finance the restoration of the old film and the making of this new documentary.
On Saturday, the mummy comes out of its tomb.
All this revives the crucial question. Did Irish politicians ever succeed in freeing themselves from what we describe in the film as "that terrible and fatal connection between church and state"?
In 2002, the Catholic Church did a deal on the payment of compensation to the victims of slave labour, physical abuse and rape in convents and industrial schools. The Irish government agreed that - unlike in Canada and Australia - the church need only pay one-quarter of the compensation, and the taxpayer the other three-quarters. So today there are victims of rape and slavery, now adults, helping to pay their abusers' fines. In addition, the government has guaranteed the religious orders indemnity from civil prosecution.
Jaysus, what did you expect?
Despite recent economic gains, figures show the Irish have third highest government debt per capita in the world, behind only Japan and US
New figures from Bloomberg show that despite recent improvements, the Irish have a far higher government debt per person burden than even the indebted Greeks. (Photograph: Yiorgos Karahalis/Reuters)
It’s the poster boy for Europe; the former “PIIG” which shrugged off the shackles of austerity and managed to return to economic growth, slashing its sovereign debt in the process.
And yet if this is so, then why does Ireland continue to carry a shocking level of debt per person, the highest in Europe and the third highest out of 49 countries worldwide?
Well as Austin Hughes, chief economist with KBC Bank sees it, it’s a bit of a case of “lies, damned lies and statistics”.
On the one hand, our debt is shrinking; from a peak of about €225 billion back in 2012/2013, debt has fallen back to about €200 billion.
On the one hand, our debt is shrinking; from a peak of about €225 billion back in 2012/2013, debt has fallen back to about €200 billion. This means that Ireland has the 25th highest level of debt of any country in the world, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg, with total outstanding sovereign debt of $223.9 billion. This puts it far behind the US ($16.2 trillion); Japan ($10 trillion); China and the UK ($ 2.7 trillion). It is also lower than Greece ($339.7bn) and Portugal ($258.7bn).
“We’re one of the few countries where debt has started to ease, partly because bank related debts are unwinding,” says Hughes.
Moreover the debt: GDP ratio, the typical metric to determine whether debt is sustainable or not, tracking as it does, a country’s debt to its income, is also slumping, down to 77.9 per cent from a high of 125 per cent reached in June 2013, and is forecast to fall to 76 by year end.
Not only that, but Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has set a new target of 45 per cent to be reached by the mid-2020s, far below the 60 per cent range set out by the EU. In Greece on the other hand, debt:GDP is of the order of 177 per cent, and after a period of reduction, is forecast to escalate thereafter.
Why then, when we look at debt on a per capita basis, is it still so high? Per person, the Irish are right up the top of the leaderboard, with government debt per person of $45,941 (€43,230) as of March 1st 2017, behind only Japan ($80,465) and the US ($48,203). In Greece, where the International Monetary Fund recently warned that the country’s debts are on an “explosive” path, the burden is just $31,797 per person, while, at the other end of the scale, Australia, Luxembourg and New Zealand all have debt levels of less than $20,000 per person.
The reason perhaps, comes down to how our GDP figure is collated. As was highlighted last year amidst talk of “leprauchaun economics”, the transfer of intellectual property rights and the level of multinational activity in Ireland flatters the level of economic activity
This means that while there undtoubtedly has been an improvement in Ireland’s debt burden, it is “altogether less spectacular” than the debt:GDP ratio might indicate - hence a higher debt per capita figure than you might expect.
It’s not just government debt that the Irish risk being suffocated by; household debt, while still improving, is also high by European averages, at €31,096 per capita.
“The improvement is real, but the scale of improvement is exaggerated,” Hughes says, adding, “There is that sense of ’we had a crisis and now it’s gone away’, but these numbers clearly indicate it hasn’t gone away; it has eased, but there are still vulnerabilities in the economy”.
Indeed as Hughes notes, the risks our debt burden poses come on two fronts; if interest rates were to rise substantially it would increase the cost of servicing this debt, while if the level of GDP growth is diminished, this could sharply increase the aformentioned debt:GDP ratio.
A hefty debt burden does not mean, however, that it should not rise once more.
“Once there is an economic and social return on that debt, the reality is you can argue for a lot of areas of public investment,” says Hughes, “an increase in debt is reasonable provided it’s sustainable”.
So like the consumer taking out a loan to further their education perhaps, compared with a credit card debt for a holiday, there can be “good” and “bad” government debt too.
It’s not just government debt that the Irish risk being suffocated by; household debt, while still improving, is also high by European averages, at €31,096 per capita. Although the most recent figures from the Central Bank for February show that Irish households reduced debt as a proportion of income more than any country in European Union over the previous 12 months, Irish consumers continue to be the fourth most indebted in the EU, with a debt to disposable income ratio of 144.8 per cent.
This compares to 223.3 per cent for the Danes, the most indebted country in the EU, and less than 100 per cent in Spain, Greece, France, Germany and Italy.
The remains of a significant number of babies and infants found at the site of a former mother and baby home at Tuam is one further example — and not the last, I suspect — of the systemic abuse that occurred in the archipelago of institutions that existed in post-independence Ireland.
The abuse in all its forms is, of course, horrific, terrifying and shameful. It begs so many questions. How, for example, could it occur in institutions which are meant to espouse Christian values such as kindness, charity, love for thy neighbour, and good will?
How could such abuse and such violence exist for so long in parallel with the supposed operation of a democratic and constitutional state? How could it occur in a “civilised society”?
Many commentators on incidences of systematic abuse and violence inform us that it often occurs when three conditions are met. First, the wrongdoing is tolerated and indeed authorised by the institution, the state, or even by society more generally.
Loyalty to the institution, in this instance the Bon Secours Sisters in the Tuam mother and baby home, is given primacy over all others considerations, in particular issues of private or moral conscience.
The disciplinary practices of these institutions and their hierarchical ordering also facilitated the non- reflective execution of orders.
Secondly, moral blindness of this kind is aided by routinisation.
This helps to create a distance between individual acts of the institutional order and their consequences.
Each person working in the home did not see themselves as contributing to the broader consequences, namely gross acts of violence, neglect or abuse.
In their own minds, they were just doing their jobs, cogs in the operation of an institutional apparatus that was dealing with the “problem” of unwanted children in Irish society.
Thirdly, by indoctrination and ideological labelling, the victims of such abuse and neglect, are dehumanised. They are seen as “other”, as different, in this case as “children of sin”.
This permits the breakdown of inter-human identification. If I do not perceive you as being similar to me as a human being, I am not required to relate to you on those terms.
When you are less than me, my sensibilities and sensitivities to your plight are greatly reduced.
This, in turn, perpetuates moral blindness and has the tendency to place the vulnerable individual beyond the reach of law and public concern.
“We tend to underestimate the extent to which social adjusted ‘normal’ can be indifferent to or undertake vicarious pleasure in the suffering of others with whom they do not identify,” said one commentator.
When these three conditions are combined — authorisation, routinisation, and dehumanisation — it provides a fertile ground for systematic abuse and neglect within institutions of this kind.
It is also clear, of course, that an effective state was not operating.
From the 1930s up until the early 1990s, it permitted approximately 35,000 Irish children and young people who were orphans, truants, and from dysfunctional families to be sent to a network of 250 Catholic Church-run industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels.
Government inspectors clearly failed to highlight or to stop the “endemic” of deaths, beatings, assaults, molestations, rapes and ritual humiliations.
When government power is weak and constrained, it too contributes to abusive situations and to the development of illegal hierarchies of power.
THIS failure of the State extends beyond Church institutions. The European Court of Human Rights in the O’Keeffe decision, for example, recently held that that the Irish Government had an inherent obligation to ensure the protection of children from ill-treatment in a primary education context.
It held that the Irish State was in breach of Article 3 of the Convention in not adopting appropriate measures and safeguards to protect vulnerable individuals.
More generally, the wrongdoing of the kind witnessed in Tuam was also aided and abetted by the conduct and indeed silence of Irish people. What should not get lost in the narrative is that this abuse and neglect was committed by Irish citizens upon Irish citizens, and was, in turn, facilitated and tolerated by Irish citizens.
Though it is easy to take the high moral ground that hindsight affords, the deafening silence of the Irish public was striking. This is an unpalatable truth, though of course the complexities and the context are oversimplified.
There are many lessons for us in this shameful history, lessons that should jerk us out of any sense of complacency or smugness about our own progressiveness. The dangers of dehumanisation remain steadfastly apparent.
Reflecting upon this history should make us more mindful about the ways in which ideology is formulated in our society. It should also make us more suspicious about the vectors of power, and any unhealthy deference to the institutions of that power.
Why access to justice is vital, particularly when it is not convenient to do so, and why individual rights matter must, in addition, be part of any conversation.
It is also crucial to foster virtuous citizenship, permitting individuals to speak up against wrongdoing, thereby giving voice to the voiceless and shedding light on the unseen.
Above all, our history demands that we recognise the intrinsic human value and dignity of each human life. As citizens and members of a community, we all have a power and a responsibility in that regard.
Shane Kilcommins is a professor of law and head of the School of Law at the University of Limerick.