Repeal Referendum

 

Not a lot left to say now except fucking hell.

On the day news of Savita’s death broke myself and mam happened to meet for lunch in a cafe across from the hospital.

A lone woman stood at the gates holding a sign

“NEVER AGAIN”

We brought her coffee. Mam talked about the indignity and casual humiliation she experienced in hospitals down the years. We will vote together today.

Galway Pro-choice was then only a few months in existence. Established by a 21 year old woman with no knowledge that she would be contacted by friends of Savita and Praveen setting off a chain of events reverberating to this day. As the country and world reeled in anger, those young women were scraping together money so that the tsunami of requests might be handled by a dedicated mobile phone. With absolutely none of training evident in recent appearances of Maria Steen or Simon Harris they took on the world media. There was never any question of doing otherwise.

Yesterday the march set out again from Eyre Square. What had until then been unusually subdued spontaneously turned into cheers and applause the whole way through town. It was so beautiful and just perfect. Smiling through the tears. Six years up and down that street and it concludes in raw positivity I will never ever forget. Tension and release. We cheered and the town cheered with us.

The Love Boats did not know what to do with themselves.

Later after the final of what felt like 72, 000 leaflets in labyrinthine celtic tiger suburbia the team headed home at 11.30pm. The air of unreality in that car, I just don’t know what to say.

We passed the hotel where once modestly attended open meetings took place. Where other activists would give up time travelling from Dublin or Cork to speak on Tuesday evenings. The same function room that recently heaved with one campaign launch after another and now it was over.

They say Savita’s death has been used by us but it was them and always them who used her life upholding their regime. They used her and so many others for their fiction.

This October and every after it will still be our side gathered in Eyre Square.

 

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On the ‘Culture of Death’

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During Oireachtas hearings in 2013 Caroline Simons of Love Both was asked about her  appearances on American television. At first she pretended not to know anything about an advert featuring an all Irish cast appealing for cash on Catholic EWTN. (Video of denial here)

When it was put to her a second time she responded that

I was not aware I was on EWTN. I do not know any agents of the culture of death, I hope. Certainly, they have not identified themselves as such to me.

No more surreal than any other day in Leinster House then.

Closing his statement in January this year, Mattie McGrath claimed that

This is an opportunity to assert we will not tread that path, that we choose a culture of life, the life of both mother and baby, and that we will not rush headlong into a culture of death from which there can be no return.

This second claim is somehow even more bizarre.

The story of early Christian Ireland is a complex one which we wont recount but needless to say the church made concerted effort to appropriate native pagan customs as their own.  Chief among preoccupations were matters of life of death.

Wakes are first mentioned in The lliad and much surviving archaeology concerns itself with the passing from this life to the next.  In a recent book, Kevin Tollis writes that

Waking the dead was still common in all European cultures until 200 years ago, but died away as the power of the Western Death Machine grew through hospitals, industrialisation and urbanisation to separate the dying from the living. For some reason, the power of the wake has always remained stronger, more embedded, amongst the Celts.

The wake is more than an Irish cultural icon. It is an ancient way of dealing with our mortality, a wisdom that we lose at our peril, and one of the oldest rites of humanity dating back long before the fall of Troy in the 8th Century BC.

 

This practice predates, and will likely outlast, Catholic dominance on this island but nevertheless, it had a good run maintaining an iron grip on the ritual of funerals to the point of dictating where our own family were buried. An Ordinance Survey map shows the country side pockmarked with the final and separate resting place of the unbabtised. This final detail gives us insight into the thinking at play.

Most recently, we saw it again in 2016 when the Vatican reaffirmed that the scattering of ashes is contrary to Catholic teaching. Where once they could decide if children were included in their own family plot, today the church are eager to keep people in ensuring they are not conducting personal ceremonies with notions of their own.

Opposition to euthanasia, assisted suicide and so on is quite clearly rooted in the belief that the laity should not be allowed to lose a fear of dying. The pope himself caused a stir earlier this year with the suggestion that the aul heaven and hell thing is not as clear cut. On the matter of ‘bad souls’ he allegedly said that

“They are not punished. Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and take their place among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. A hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists.”

The Vatican were quick to play down the remarks but this new ambiguity will come as a surprise to everyone threatened with enteral damnation for the past two thousand years. For the church itself single minded clarity on the issue has always been good for business if you discount the odd cataclysmic schism.

Here at home, we have the tradition of visiting Patrick’s grave on March 17th. This despite the fact the stone is certainly not his and there is no record of him ever being in Downpatrick, nevermind Slemish. Like his posthumous elevation to bishop of Armagh, these associations are an invention

We have no indication whatsoever of when, or where, he actually died. The lack of a known burial site, and/or possession of his body, was something particularly embarrassing to the Early Irish Church. It’s almost as if Patrick was telling the truth when he says himself that he wasn’t held in high esteem by fellow Christians during his life. Later (early medieval) hagiography had to came up with a very convoluted ‘explanation’ as to why his body wasn’t where it ‘should’ be. Ahem. Centuries later, Norman adventurers apparently managed to ‘accidentally’ stumble upon his grave during a spot of light gardening. What are the chances, like. This later ‘traditional’ location at Downpatrick even underwent an overhaul aimed at the tourist market in the early 20thC. Of course, its all just medieval show-business.

These people know the power of death and what better one to put in service of the church than the Big P himself.

So not to labour an obvious point but today these people accuse others of a culture of death and piously position themselves.

It is there very own culture of death they are fighting for. Key to their fading domination and something used to wield enormous control long before they needed constitutional amendments.

Jet Fuel Can’t Melt Steel Babies – The Wacky World of #Savethe8th Conspiracy Theories

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In early 1977 word circulated round West Belfast that abortion was a “British plot to decrease production of children in Ireland”. It came during the heights of Women’s Lib and period of intense efforts to roll back the 1967 Act in Britain.

The leaflet was allegedly produced by the Provisional movement and not to be outdone, censors in the Republic were busy combating the Saxon menace in banning Spare Rib Magazine. To this day posters on lamp post draw dubious comparison with England and say “don’t brings this to Ireland”.

There is certainly no doubting the extent of deviousness deployed by Britain on these shores. In what has turned out to be genuine state directed conspiracy at least 20 people had been murdered by the Glenanne Gang the previous year, however the abortion plot has scarcely been mentioned since. It is, after all, still a Westminster Act that prevails north and south. For now.

A more recent shade of this line was promoted by former PIRA Volunteer Gerry McGeough who published “The Hibernian” between 2006 and 2008. Under the tag line “Faith, Family and Country” the magazine contained a scorching mix of pseudo- Gaelic fascism, seeking a “return to Catholic Order” and featured regular contributions penned by members of Youth Defence. Alongside the machinations of British imperialism, abortion was also soon linked to a wider, often satanic, globalist conspiracy.

McGeough resigned from the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in 2003 claiming the party “has been heavily infiltrated by homosexual activists and British double agents. A lot of republicans can’t fathom the liberal values of the leadership. They do not understand why they are pursuing a liberal British agenda. Immigration is a massive concern and there are a lot of people who are not happy with the level of immigration”.

McGeough was recently quoted by Reuters at last month’s Save The 8th rally having organised “several busloads” from Tyrone with the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Co-founder of The Hibernian was Charles Byrne who last popped up in 2013 when he and fellow Youth Defence activists had liberal priest Fr Iggy O’Donovan removed from his parish in Drogheda.

Sometimes dark forces really are out to get you.

A barely watered down version of this tradition continues with the Alive! newspaper available monthly in Catholic churches and through your letterbox since 1996. As a sort of ultramontane tabloid, Alive! is run by Fr. Brian McKevitt and comes with a disclaimer that the “content of this newspaper and the views expressed in it are those of the editor and contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Irish Dominican Province”.

McKevitt, who once compared masturbation to drink driving, set up ‘Women Hurt by Abortion’ following the original Eighth Amendment Campaign before it was reanimated recently by Catholic activists Bernadette Goulding and Lynn Coles. The lobby group left many bemused last year for sending not women, hurt or otherwise, but a US based male activist to speak at the Citizen’s Assembly.

There is no issue too big, small or indeed random for Alive! where singing nuns and the threat of nuclear submarines can sit along side the ethics of Christians practising yoga. The latest Hollywood blockbusters are dissected for anti-family propaganda and miraculous medal are flogged promising all sorts of cures.

The current issue claims no less than Karl Marx himself is behind the Repeal movement in Ireland. While many wish big daddy K’s influence was such in this country, his writing probably better explains vast changes in recent decades than causes it. Instead, the Catholic Right cling to various tales amounting to Walter Benjamin and Nell McCafferty hatching the sexual revolution from their hollowed out volcano lair.

Against this the Alive! editorial lambastes “indifference” claiming

“surrender before the first shot is fired: that has largely been the policy, or at least the practice, of the Catholic Church in Ireland over the past 60 years. Again and again she capitulated, barely showing a flicker of fighting spirit”.

It goes on to praise for Trump,  fascist Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán and three less flattering articles on George Soros.

Farage, Le Pen, Ganley and other far-right figures are routinely lauded in between advocacy of corporal punishment, rampant Islamophobia, and War-on-Christians outrage. A regular feature is sensationalist articles regarding medicine – particularly anything to do with women’s health and contraception. A young girl in Ohio sprouted hooves after going on the pill, and what have you.

Bizarre adverts for even stranger organisations offer training for young men to Fight and Defeat! anti-Christian forces. MEN of IRELAND are called to climb Croagh Patrick to stop abortion.

The Media Watch section and indeed much of each issue has been given over to the notion that prochoice sentiment is entirely media driven. While I tend to agree that Irish journalists saunter hand in hand with Satan, in reality, you can count on one hand the number of repeal supporters impressed by coverage of the issue and most of those work in the media.  The repeal newspaper conspiracy must be operating at such a high level given most editors and journalists know little about the  campaign itself.

Those running Savethe8th have invited American film makers here to make propaganda videos about the death of Savita. In 2013 they appeared in an advert for US Catholic television. They spoke in grave terms about a “tsunami of the culture of death racing toward Ireland’s shore” and the donations required to stop it. When questioned during Oireachtas hearings, Caroline Simmons, legal advisor to the Prolife Campaign, pretended to know nothing about it despite appearing herself.

That same year Renua candidate and Vatican Embassy campaigner, Mary Fitzgibbon investigated whether Clare Daly and Ivana Bacik were involved in the occult. Accusation of witchcraft surfaced again this year centred on Katherine Zappone and child sacrafice. A firm favourite of mine was recent suggestion that Micheál Martin’s surprise support for Repeal is based on the presence in his constituency of Pfizer, who manufacture misoprostol.

Extremism is rife. Some anti-choice campaigners can be found wondering if material in circulation is a ‘false flag’ given the nature of content and claims made. Others see larger organisations as too compromising and there were those asking if Youth Defence were even prolife at all.

In 2011, satirical site The Onion published news of an “$8 billion Planned Parenthood Abortionplex” complete with “amenities such as coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater”. This spread with dismay through anti-choice corners online and was raised by two US Congressmen. Such is how these people have been conditioned to believe anything.

While some may genuinely believe George Soros eats infants and others get very Old Testament altogether – sincerely linking natural disasters and recent extreme weather to a decision to hold the referendum in May, the month of of Our Lady.

Others are simply opportunistic in how they sow disinformation but there an important distinction to make here. Many of the prominent, most committed voices are trained liars with absolutely no regard for fact or truth. Some are hardened, seasoned brawlers, others are cutting their teeth but all share the will to use dirty tricks if it will push the the right buttons. So much of their propaganda can be written off as crude but there is also a sophisticated, workmanlike element in how they use emotional triggers.

While billboards ventriloquising babies urging us to stand up and fight are straight from  first world war propaganda, long before the internet, anti-choice campaigns have been an epicentre of fake news. They have for decades exploited a lack of information around sex, reproduction and women’s health to spread fear and disinformation.

The Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment recommends

….a thorough review of sexual health and relationship education, including the areas of contraception and consent, in primary and post-primary schools, colleges, youth clubs and other organisations involved in education and interactions with young people. Sufficient time must be provided in the school’s curriculum for such education and it should be taught by suitably qualified personnel. The information should be provided in an impartial and factual manner that is independent of school ethos.

During the 2012 Republican primaries, Senator Todd Akin hit headlines with his thoughts on “legitimate rape” and claims that the “female body has ways to shut that whole thing down”. The fallout eventually hit our shores when focus came on the information and groups spreading it in Irish schools. A trail led back to Savethe8th founders at the Life Institute who were forced to hastily remove an identical claim from their own website.

Iona Institute affiliated Pure In Heart also deleted their website following media scrutiny and similarly dubious information has been shared in schools by ‘The Precious Life Guide to Sex.  A ‘Secondary Education’ company called Lifeworks lists Cora Sherlock, Ruth Cullen and other Prolife Campaign affiliates as directors.

Recent accounts show an impressive turnover of 64,700. This figure is important to remember because there is a lot more than ‘ethos’ at stake as the RSE in schools debate intensifies.

Perhaps one of the more impactful trends is how a global network of anti-choice websites have incubated and laundered far-right causes and talking points into the broader Conservative media before they eventually reach mainstream. In recent years you can draw an easy line of stories surfacing on fundamentalist US media before appearing in places like The Spectator or British Telegraph just as occurs with Fox News in the states. Given how easily this stuff reaches the US president, what effect here in Ireland?

Take for instance a persistent meme of recent years – the question of “why is no one reporting the Christian genocide in the middle east?”. A media industry arose around 2013 onward to ask this question over and over. People were far more invested in the notion of media black-out than concern for the crime itself..

Underlying this is a hierarchy of victims with Christians deserving greater sympathy and against this background, Iona Institute director David Quinn queried why LGBT persecution in Russia received significant coverage “instead” and there was suggestion that Christian refugees should be prioritised.

Racism and Xenophobia in various forms have certainly been recurring among many prominent though not all committed Irish activists. Anti-abortion is part of a broader political project for some but for many this is not the case and in today’s climate we must ask what is the effect of being plugged into networks where anti-choice content is produced?

In an age where single articles are shared on social media, a link to one everyday anti-abortion story will often lead to a menu replete with anti-Semitism, white supremacy and end of civilisation sensation. Supporters of the Eighth Amendment are very often only one click away from darker corners of the internet and this will surely have other consequences.

Like most Irish industries, the Soros conspiracy is an American import. The massive LIFENEWS have articles on the subject as early as 2003. White Supremacist Breitbart News have published nearly 25,000 articles tagged: abortion and over 2000 on Ireland. I need not explain the extent of dubious ideas currently being smuggled under the cloak of protecting ‘Christian values’, ‘religious freedom’ and so on. American and other involvement in Irish anti-choice activity is nothing new but it takes on a fresh dimension when common cause is found with frog waving online misogynists. Such alliances are already underway Stateside

The very first act of president George W Bush was signing an Executive Order limiting funds to prochoice NGOs and he left office lauded as “the prolife movement’s best friend”. His war received massive support from the God-fearing media. They have played a central role in fostering the post-911 racism and climate of white society under siege.

Irish anti-choice campaigns regularly write for these sites and disseminate content on social media. They have long been part of these networks and share common anxiety of about a way of life under attack.

Today’s columnists under the impression they are being clever ‘asking questions’ about Islam or political correctness must be aware that long before even the Daily Mail there are massive American outlets who wrote the rule book.

It is sort of quaint that the tedious Irish opinion page contrarian believes they are writing something original when following a template set down over a decade ago by news organisations quite literally built on a foundation of anti-feminism.

And this is what it all comes back to in the end.

Whether people believe the stings are pulled by RTÉ, billionaire investors or Satan himself, anti-choice conspiracies should be seen for exactly what they are.

Another form of sexism that seeks to erase the enormous amount of work women are doing.


Please donate to the campaign here

t4s

#Repealthe8th | Are the Irish Media Up To The Job?

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For several years the Repeal campaign has been tediously lectured by journalists, columnists and self regarding political gurus. Pompous pages filled with advice no one asked for. Dire warnings and hollow concern. Dozens of hacks writing identical articles while accusing everyone else of being unprepared.

You need to follow the rules they say as centres of power ignore referendum results, European Courts and more cases than we should ever be familiar with. Tone it down and follow procedure insist the same people left reeling by the outcome of Citizens Assembly and Oireachtas committee.

Get off the internet they jeer as people turned a hashtag into a question on the ballot paper.

Throughout 2017 a cottage industry arose as journalists set out across America to find the ordinary people – as if residents of Nebraska or Idaho were some lost Amazonian tribe. RTÉ’s Caitríona Perry even delivered ‘Tales from Trump Land’ but no such survey of our own savage wilderness has taken place.

Instead, on the morning of the last general election one broadcaster reflected the overall mood in RTÉ studios remarking that the results “seem like they were from another planet”. This was but a rerun of 2011 when none saw the collapse of Fianna Fáil coming and in the era of Trump and Brexit need we labour the point of just how out of touch the professionals are from public opinion? Yes.

I fondly remember former Irish Times editor Geraldine Kennedy one morning telling us the marriage referendum was going to fail as Marian Finucane and her panel of experts nodded along. It passed by over 60% with a majority in all but one county. The veteran and highly regarded journalist had of course presided over the paper during the property bubble and bank collapse. Neither of which were foreseen across the entire media/political class, apparently, and she popped again in 2016 to insist that in the general election “stability in government will be the main issue in a majority of voters’ minds” before result delivered the lowest combined FF/FG vote in history and no government for 80 days.

Irish Water, Garda scandals, Siteserv, Tuam, Savita, James Reilly, one after another these clowns call the public mood wrong and after nearly four decades on the issue have the cheek to tell us people won’t vote for repeal.

Prochoice activists must to listen to these people pontificate about the “middle ground” but just how prepared are the Irish media for this referendum?

During the long run to Marriage Equality in 2015 both the Irish Times and RTÉ ran opinion polls including questions relating to custody, adoption and guardianship.

Why were these issues being deliberately shoehorned into the topic when trained, resourced and professional newsrooms were well aware these and other matters – for all couples and none – were dealt with separately by the Oireachtas in the Children and Family Relationships Bill.

Way back in 2013 Alan Shatter told the Dáil that

It is important we have this level of understanding and clarity. The referendum will be about one, and only one, issue and that issue is whether it is agreed by a majority of the people of the Republic of Ireland that individuals who are gay can celebrate a marriage. This is the only issue. […]

We should not be led into a debate about children.

The Children and Family Relationships Bill was an important, modernising and in an Irish context, radical piece of legislation reforming the archaic state of family law in this state. It deserved significant attention in itself.

Unfortunately following Alan Shatter’s departure from Justice, Francis Fitzgerald and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin completely dropped the ball in publicising it. Political sense alone would suggest that – with an eye on the referendum  – this was an opportunity to dispel unhelpful noise and myth, and do it early on. Instead legislation was published and  pushed through the Oireachtas several months late and just weeks before the referendum vote.

Was media ignorance and irresponsibility down to a tendency to take their lead from Leinster House….or was it the other way around?

January 2015 headlines in the Irish Times and Journal both tactfully announced that a “Gay adoption law” would be passed before the referendum. Both articles were spurred by government press release in response to a broadcast of Claire Byrne Live on RTÉ the previous Monday night. It was the maiden episode of what has become the most consistently barrel scrapping, sensationalist offerings on RTÉ Current Affairs.

In her TV review Laura Slattery observed that “Labour TD John Lyons looks forlorn as the debate is consistently dragged off in the obfuscating direction of children’s rights, surrogacy and adoption, and wonders if there has been some mix-up. This referendum is about marriage, right?”. This continued on RTÉ for another four months.

Eight weeks later in March, the Irish Times were still polling “on whether same-sex couples should be able to adopt?”. These polls are then picked up from newspapers for morning radio and around it goes again. Far from providing clarity and aiding an informed public ahead of the vote, splashing unrelated guff on front pages and airwaves had the effect of injecting doubt and misinformation into the news cycle. Breeding contention and unfounded fear.

study on ‘negative social and psychological impacts’ during the 2015 campaign found television and radio debates were even more distressing than the ubiquitous campaign posters and that “under the guise of “respectful debate” and “balance” a “megaphone” and “platform” for homophobia and prejudice was provided”.

Journalists and producers will argue the need to hear both sides however unsavoury ‘debate’ turns but this neat excuse sidesteps that it was not just the broadcast of malicious content and disinformation at fault. The biggest criticism during and since the campaign was that presenters were unwilling or simply unequipped to challenge assertions or steer proceedings toward something constructive for audiences at home.

However aside from unprepared broadcasters, Prochoice and other activists are by now well aware that programme makers in fact rarely set out achieve anything approaching informative, choosing instead the well worn comfort zone of simplistic binary and conflict.

Take January’s Dáil statements on the Joint Committee Report. In a debate mature as we could hope in Leinster House, TDs from all sides entered the chamber said their piece and left. Sin é.

Over on RTÉ however a video segment on Prime Time used footage of Mattie McGrath and Richard Boyd Barrett on their feet arguing while a voiceover spoke of “testy exchanges” and a “divisive issue”. The truth was nothing of the sort.

McGrath and Boyd Barrett were separately raising a procedural issue with the Ceann Comhairle, it was an argument about speaking time. That was the extent of trouble throughout the debate but in using this footage RTÉ Primetime quite deliberately mislead viewers into seeing conflict where none had existed.

This was culmination of a trend. The Committee on the Eighth Amendment was an imperfect, frustrating but none the less landmark process in Irish politics. There was no consensus on the desired outcome but most members were moving in the same direction at different speeds. Most were open to listen and engage. This was no small event for Irish politicians and abortion.

However each Wednesday radio bulletins invariably rang out with the antics of a minority who heckled, obstructed and listened to no else. Headlines were no better and with a few exceptions there was scant indication of what actually occurred over three months down in Committee Room 2. Members of the Oireachtas don’t easily emerge with ground shifting recommendations ranging from repeal, sex education and provision of universal free contraception. A lot just happened here but when the final report was published, short as it was, most went unreported on the main evening news as equal time is given to bare opposition of “no change”.

In January this year, RTÉ Drivetime ran a segment putting the Irish reproductive health regime in global context. Phillip Boucher Hayes remarked that he spend all day crunching the numbers. He could have just asked any number of activists who have been putting the word out on this for years. In so many cases, journalists are only behind politicians in catching with public opinion.

Activists are chastised, their work overlooked and dismissed while in January, Stephen Collins, Fiach Kelly and Pat Leahy at the Irish Times each wrote identical articles praising the Taoiseach’s supposedly genius strategy in softly softly bringing people along? Each tellingly over estimating the influence of Leo Varadkar in this campaign.

The effect of this mediated politics, so constrained and narrowed is proving to have effects beyond the humble electorate. It is not a leap to suggest these failures account in part for why much of the media and political class itself has been blindsided by Citizens Assembly recommendations, public opinion and just about everything else abortion related as the ground moved beneath their feet since 2012.

For years we were subject to speculation and debate about the emergence of new party in Irish politics. Endless coverage for Lucinda Creighton, Michael McDowell and whoever else. All the while, the most incredibly vibrant social movement touching every county in Ireland has emerged and the majority of journalists are unable to write about it.

Media comment has concerned itself not so much with the issues but with grave concern that this is happening outside perceived boundaries of respectable politics. This is ordinary people getting together and putting a most unspeakable issue on the agenda and soon to vote – in spite of the Normal Rules.

It is not just that regime journalists live in a bubble or don’t care to inform themselves. They genuinely do not understand how this campaign has played out. It is beyond their entire conception. This is what happens when your idea of politics only extends to the ritual of posters on lamp posts.

 


Please donate to the campaign here

t4s

 

 

 

Radio Round-Up

Welcome, and a happy new year.

Dublin Digital Radio has grown into a formidable enterprise since its launch in 2016. The schedule today includes a serious variety of talented people pushing the forefront of Irish broadcasting. Check out http://listen.dublindigitalradio.com/

Catch up with the Oireachtas Retort Show below. I’ll be back next month as we look forward to the year ahead. New for 2018, all past and future episodes will soon be available direct to you on itunes, Stitcher and podcast apps.


 

In conversation with Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, Turlough Kelly on his ‘The 4th Act’ documentary ahead of the Dublin International Film Festival & ongoings in the Gardaí with Richard McAleavey

Brexit, Borders and Britain’s Meltdown with Richard McAleavey

March for Choice Special with Linda Kavanagh, Stephanie Lord & Máiréad Enright

Catalonia and Spainish Nationalisms with Richard McAleavey

Corbyn and the British Election Special with Rosa Gilbert

General Election with Richard McAleavey and Sarah Clancy

Appropriate Women with Mairéad Enright and Niamh Puirséil

Citizens Assembly & Maternity Hospital with Sinead Redmond and Richard McAleavey

Trump, Populism, Citizens Assembly with Richard McAleavey and Stephanie Lord

Cop On Comrades with Dr Anne Mullhall

Holy Orders

An upcoming conference from the Iona Institute proposes to tell us ‘How we killed God’ or…

….how ‘Official Ireland’ is ruthlessly pushing all consideration of God to the margins of Irish life. Christians are allowed no place in public debate, and God is rarely spoken of in public any more. So far as Irish public life is concerned, we have effectively ‘killed’ God. Except we cannot do that of course, so we do the next best thing; we pretend he is ‘dead’.

Never mind that I type this during the angelus.

John Waters will be speaking, fresh no less from his appearance replacing Frankie Gaffney at a Mens Rights Activist conference.

There purpose of this event is to promote David Quinn’s new book. A collection of the same five newspapers columns he’s written over and over since 1994 bound and repackaged in time for the Christmas consumer market. Who said god is dead, huh?

Rumors of decline in the convents is also greatly exaggerated.

Via the Workplace Relations Commission this week we learn a nun intervened to prevent a woman getting a teaching job despite being the strongest and only internal applicant.

Objection was on grounds that she was an “unmarried mother” and her “lifestyle did not reflect the standards of the school and would send out the wrong message to the young female students” . During the competition process the nun “set out to denigrate the candidate and diminish her status as a candidate”.

The same nun also denied someone else a promotion on the basis that he was protestant and it would, she says “send the wrong message”.

“One very impressive and clearly appointable candidate emerged… When the scoring sheets were completed this candidate was ahead of the others who had presented for interview… ‘However, given that the candidate was a member of the Church of Ireland, his scores were revised downwards to place him in third place overall”.

This was all in the last six years.

The complaint emerged following a protected disclosure. See full details here.

Both schools involved are part of Ceist, a Trust established by religious orders while the Ryan Commission was still ongoing so they could put assets beyond the reach of the state and abuse redress.

The Trust controls about 30% of Ireland’s secondary schools and board members include several representatives from religious orders, former senior civil servant, senior banker and Ronan Mullen for good measure.

Michael Colgan’s World

Michael Colgan wields enormous influence within his own sphere. An industry particularly susceptible if not sustained day to day on abuse of position and boundaries. It is easy understand how he gets away with it on his own turf but he also is part of another very small group of people in this country.

A regular on say, Marian Finucane’s Sunday morning panel and the person whose phone rings when the papers or media want a spokesperson for ‘the arts’. A lot of dinners, launches and lunches. Engagements, meetings, consultancy and so forth.

Ministers speak at festival openings.  In bars, golf and rugby clubhouses during the bubble there was plenty boasting of the tax benefits investing in film and arts can bring. Accountants bringing people and worlds closer together. Just as we saw during the banks, you have a very small group of people always bumping into each other all the time.

Colgan would be rubbing shoulders regularly with the same journalists, editors, judges, politicians, wealthy types and bosses styling themselves as patrons of the arts. Different entourages with similar post codes. These circles are a close as we have to a who’s who. The top tables of theater are overwhelmingly middle class after all. He is part of a set and one that is looking the other way on a weekly basis.

Within this he seemingly made no effort to hide his behaviour and typical of people like him, took pleasure in humiliating his victims publicly. Flaunting his impunity and their powerlessness. Words like ‘bravery’ grate a bit in this and other contexts but having experienced that silent indifference, the knowing dismissal, it really is a massive things these women are doing.

When shit hits the fan though, this set are close to immortal. So very well practised when it comes to closing ranks, obfuscation and rehabilitation, if necessary. We have recently seen reaction to a convicted rapist. We should be used to the treatment of those who rock the boat. In most areas, groups or organisation, in big and small ways,  its is ensured that people understand the consequences of standing up.

So for many, instinctively there is much more than the reputation of Michael Colgan at stake. It is a matter of survival.

So now the stage is set for a familiar act.

The nature of these allegation, as we know, adds a whole other motivation for this episode to be contained.

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