Saturday, 28 November 2009

Murphy Report into Clercial Sex Abuse

Niamh Connolly: “I hope it’s [Craggy Island parochial house] not some kind of hideaway for paedophile priests. That whole thing disgusted me.”

Father Ted: “Well, we’re not all like that, Niamh. Say, if there’s two hundred million priests in the world, and five per cent of them are paedophiles, that’s still only ten million.”

The above dialogue is from the Father Ted comedy series, by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews. Years ago, when it first came out, my family would send me VHS recordings of it when I was living away. They loved it, and knew I would too – still do, in fact.

I’ve even got a book of the complete scripts, which I delve into whenever I want to escape the madness of Irish life into a world of relative sanity. Sometimes the boundaries between Ireland and Craggy Island are thin, granted - but at least Craggy Island is funny with it.

There’s no need here to go into the recent revelations of the Murphy Report on clerical sex abuse in Dublin’s Catholic archdiocese, which came into being after a Prime Time programme, Cardinal Secrets, produced by Mary Raftery in 2002. Suffice to say, the findings of the report confirm what anyone with a brain in their heads has known for some time, but at least now the State cannot deny it anymore.

That’s important. Remember this issue is not just about the Catholic Church, which has had an unhealthy influence in State affairs since it was founded, with elected politicians referring policies to the Catholic hierarchy for approval before enacting them; it also is a damning indictment of our police force, which ignored complaints and covered up the systematic rape and abuse of children in good old Catholic Ireland. The Boys and Girls in Blue Serge genuflecting before the Men of the Cloth.

The question is, however, what has changed? What has the State done to ensure something like this never happens again – or isn’t still happening?

Nothing, I think. The only difference now is the Catholic Church is a discredited organisation that can no longer claim to have any moral influence on Irish life. Those priests who abused should be held accountable for their actions - as should the police officers who collaborated and covered up, along with our political caste who are ultimately responsible.

It should not stop with the Catholic Church.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ireland Today poll - attitudes towards immigrants not very welcome

"Ireland of the welcomes"

Well, maybe when the prolifigate natives thought they were rich, on the basis of borrowing heavily against their overvalued houses, and were splurging money left-right-and-centre in restaurants and hotels serviced by underpaid workers from other EU states, non-Irish nationals were welcome. Not any more, it seems.

Yesterday’s Irish Times "Ireland Today" poll of 1004 Irish adults found that 72% wanted a reduction in “non-Irish immigrants” living here, with 42% saying they would like “some” to actually leave the State.

Attitudes were starkest in the 18-24 age group, 81% of whom wanted to see immigrant numbers fall (compared with 69% in the 25-44 age group).

Hilariously, 40% of those in the same 18-24 age group say they are “likely to emigrate” within the next five years – seemingly without any trace of irony.

Great. Bye-bye to the Celtic Brats at last - don't let us stop you.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Speed camera contract award will make no difference to road safety

You’ll know that the Government has awarded a lucrative speed camera operating contract to a private consortium, Go Safe - a move that will extract in excess of €16 million annually from motorists who don’t watch their speedos attentively. This is the minimum amount the consortium needs to generate to cover the scheme’s running costs. Go figure.

This blog has been arguing against speed cameras for years, so I’m not going to go into it all again, but suffice to say that their “effectiveness” is the subject of some debate, and in Britain they have simply become a self-perpetuating industry with no appreciable effect on road safety. See Scrap Speed Cameras Now - Daily Telegraph

Road deaths are the lowest they have ever been in Ireland, and this has happened in tandem with improved roads. The next time you look at the news and see the aftermath of a fatal crash, have a look at the road. Invariably it will be on a single-carriageway, rural road.

While we are slowly linking our cities together with (tolled) motorways – despite innate Irish conservatism – we will always have single-carriageway roads. But they can be improved through road widening, surface improvement, and the provision of stretches with dedicated overtaking sections, as they have on the European mainland.

Only a couple of days before this contract was awarded, four students were killed on a notorious accident blackspot at Ballintine, Galway. According to the Matt Cooper show yesterday, I am told, the locals speak of an accident a week at this location.

The following is from BreakingNews, Ireland Online:

Parish priest Fr Michael Kenny was called to the scene at about 8pm last night, shortly after the collision. "... The weather was terrible. There was terrible rain and the road conditions were pathetic,” he said.

Fr Kenny, who offered this morning’s Mass for the young women, said the area was notorious for accidents as the road narrows to a sharp bend on a slight incline. “It is a very notorious spot. It is renowned for car accidents,” he said. “It’s on a corner but there’s a drop-off, a slope, as you are coming round and you can lose control.”

I have lost count of the dangerous roads I have driven on where parts could be widened, the camber could be improved, drainage could be addressed, dangerous humps and dips could be levelled, junctions could be cleared to provide visability and so forth - clear measures that would make them safer. Roads, by the way, on which I would not dream of doing the legal limit of 80 Kmh. One such example is the pic above, scene of another accident.

But such measures require considered thought, planning, and constructive action on the part of the authorities – as opposed to simple posturing – so they will never be taken.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

France 1 Ireland 1 - Henry's Hand of God

The phrase “hand of God” will never have the same meaning again in Ireland after tonight’s World Cup play-off. Thierry Henry used his left mitt to pass the ball to William Gallas for France’s equalizer in extra time, putting them through to South Africa 2-1 on aggregate.

It wasn't quite as blatant as Maradona's goal against England in the World Cup which, of course, provoked similar outrage about unsporting behaviour throughout Ireland in 1986.

But Henry's sleight of hand was a slap in the face for the Republic, who were easily the better team on the night, and can justifiably consider themselves hard done-by. Robbie Keane’s goal was excellent, and both he and Damian Duff had chances to wrap it up shortly afterwards. It will remain one of those "what ifs?", unfortunately.

But all the Irish players can have good reason to be proud of their performance, and have nothing to be ashamed of. Isn't that right Thierry?

World football is the nearest I get to being patriotic. Aussi Malade comme un perroquet.

You Tube video, Thierry Henry handball

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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Road deaths lowest on record - despite the RSA and the Government

It’s been said before on this blog - road deaths have been in steady decline for many years now, despite the hysteria generated by the likes of Gay Byrne, Noel Brett and the Road Safety Authority. If you took them seriously you would imagine our public highways are like something from Grand Theft Auto. But I suppose all quangos have to talk things up to bolster their own perceived importance.

Only 205 people have died on Irish roads this year to date - 45 fewer than last year. It is predicted that less than 250 people will lose their lives on Irish roads by the end of the year – the lowest since records began in 1959.

Now, can someone tell me what is driving the Gay Byrne/RSA/tender company demand for speed cameras? Would it, I wonder, be a desire to hit the motorist with yet another form of taxation, and the Government and the operators with yet another form of revenue?

What, anyhow, is behind the decline in road deaths? Is it:

a) The coppers, zapping us on dual carriageways and motorways?

b) The television ad playing “do it do me one more time” while showing someone’s head being smashed open like an eggshell… over and over again… in slow motion?

c) The coppers, zapping us on good roads with inappropriately low speed limits?

d) The television ad that shows that bloke with runny mascara somersaulting his car several times before landing on little Oisin on his swing, flattening him to a pulp?

e) The coppers, zapping us from their sneaky vans with the blacked-out windows, just before the “80" sign when leaving a town?

f) The television ad showing a spotty teenager overtaking on a blind bend, losing control of his car when a dog (left to roam freely by its owner) wanders out in front of him, causing it to slew across the road, pinning an innocent bystander against a wall and removing her legs in the goriest fashion possible?

g) None of these.

I would go for “g”.

While there are no comprehensive figures available with regard to road death causes, because the authorities can't be arsed compiling them, it is known (thanks to EU studies) that some roads are more dangerous than others. Dual carriageways and motorways are the safest, and in recent years the proportion of such roads in the Irish network has increased – despite protests and opposition by some groupings.

It’s also fair to assume that the old culture of driving to the pub in the "back of beyant", getting hammered, staggering back out the car, and somehow driving home with the help of a few Hail Marys is now frowned upon – unless you are a Fianna Fail backbencher, of course, in which case you believe you actually drive better when you're pissed.

Finally, manufacturers are making cars safer – despite the Irish Government continuing to (VRT) tax life-saving technologies such as Electronic Stability Control, which has been shown to reduce road deaths by 40%. Despite the Government, more and more cars on Irish roads have this feature, largely because the EU aims to make it mandatory by 2011.

Another case of us being saved from our own elected imcompetents by our membership of the EU.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

EU survey: Irish job applicant's address "important".

Years ago, 1986 I think, the girlfriend and I headed off to Holyhead to get out of recession-torn Ireland. Prior to doing so, she wanted to cash a cheque from her old dear, so we popped into Bank of Ireland on O’Connell Street.

As Irish-based readers (or those who were once and have since got out) will know, everything is a struggle here, and it was the same back then. There was some palaver about it not being my girlfriend’s branch, or something of the sort (it was her old dear’s), but the teller eventually relented and cashed the cheque on the basis that my girlfriend “had a good address”.

Unemployment was running at about 17 per cent at that time, but if you didn’t have a “good address”, the chances of small-minded, parochial, Irish employers taking you on were very slim indeed. So instead of jobseekers from say, Ballymun, receiving credit for getting it together enough to fight the odds and attempt to better their inherited lot, capable people from such locales were left on the dole. Not a “good address”, you see.

There’s an interesting snippet in today’s Sunday Times about a European Commission survey which found that “36% of Irish people believe a job applicant’s ‘way of speaking’ or accent is important (EU average: 30%) while what it describes as a ‘staggering’ 31% think a person’s address is important, compared with an EU average of 9%”.

Never mind ability, aptitude or suitability for the job in question then – you might as well have an Irish Mrs Bucket up there interviewing you, when it comes down to it.

On returning here in 1997, I didn’t think much had changed. Now I am sure...

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Thursday, 12 November 2009

"Deport unemployed foreign nationals" - Limerick Mayor, Kevin Kiely

Mayor of Limerick, Fine Gael’s Kevin Kiely, is NOT a racist. He just wants unemployed foreign nationals deported from our lovely little land, that's all. But he's NOT a racist. Right?

The following is from The Limerick Leader:


THE Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kevin Kiely, has called for the deportation of EU-nationals who have failed to secure employment since their arrival here.

I'm calling for anybody who is living in the State and who can't afford to pay for themselves to be deported after three months. We are borrowing €400 million per week to maintain our own residents and we can't afford it," the outspoken politician said this Wednesday. "During the good times it was grand but we can't afford the current situation unless the EU is willing to step in and pay for non-nationals," he said.

The president of the Irish-Polish Cultural and Business Association, Pat O'Sullivan, has called on the Mayor to withdraw his comments. "I am shocked, I am taken aback by those comments and it is shocking and dangerous talk," he said. "EU nationals have a legal right to be here and calling for them to be deported shows an extraordinary lack of understanding of our place in Europe and how the world views us as a people," he added.

Mayor Kiely has denied his comments amount to racism. "I'm not racist but it is very simple, we can't continue to borrow €400 million a week and the Government has to pull a halt and say enough is enough unless the EU intervenes and pays some sort of a subvention," he insisted.

Mind you, there are lots of things “we can’t afford” in Ireland - one of which is the sponging, scrounging political class that Kiely is a part of. The class that has been bleeding us dry since the Irish State’s inception. The class that used emigration as a let-off valve up until the false boom, exporting unemployed Irish people to other countries. The class that would be up in arms if the Daily Mail wanted unemployed Irish nationals deported from Britain, Germany or any other EU state.

We can't afford:

FAS. E-voting machines (the buying, the not using, the storage and eventual disposal of same). Public Service unaccountability. Decentralisation. Public works and land purchases that cost multiples of what they should cost. The Irish Language Industry (grants, subsidies, translating unread documents, the Gaeltacht). John O’Donoghue. Overblown legal fees at the tribunals. NAMA. Bank bail-outs. The Senate. The size and number of local councils. The number of TDs we maintain.

Oh… and the Mayor of Limerick. He's the sort of person we can well afford to do without in this country.

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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Government Section 23 tax shelters avoid "sharing the pain" for some.

It’s stunning. Amid the talk of us all having to “share the pain” to deal with the economic disaster and the black hole in the public finances created by this Government, one of the official wheezes that led to the false boom - and very real bust - is still very much in evidence. Namely the property-based tax shelter for investors.

Today’s Sunday Business Post carries a half-page ad on the back page of its property section, inviting the wealthy to avoid paying tax by investing in a Section 23 apartment scheme in Athlone called Bastion Court.

And I quote:


How can this be?

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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Religious symbolism and schools

Some time ago the subject of wearing the hijab, and whether it should be allowed in Irish schools, was a topical one. I remember listening to a debate on RTE Radio One at the time, when one of the participants took the line that Ireland was a “modern, secular state” and that such religious displays were not appropriate. He had hardly got the sentence out of his mouth when the secular, state, RTE presenter announced, without a trace of irony: “Thank you. And now it’s time for the Angelus”. Ireland in microcosm.

On a related issue, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools “violated religious and educational freedoms” after a complaint was taken by Soile Lautsi, who lives in the north of that country. The Italian government defended the use of the icons on the grounds that they were a symbol of “culture, history, identity, tolerance and secularism”. Secularism?

Whichever way education develops here in Ireland, it has to be one or the other. Either you “respect” all religious franchises, and segregate education to cater for each of them - or you take the line that religion is a private matter, and that State schools should be genuinely secular with no religious displays or bias.

I think the latter option is the only one that makes any kind of sense. Education should be broad, inclusive, and non-divisive. It should not be geared towards narrow, exclusive interests, religious or otherwise. It’s the future, after all, and we can’t afford to get it wrong.

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Joe Coleman reveals Immaculate Mary's messages.

This place is getting worse, if that’s possible. According to the Irish Independent, 15,000 half-wits turned up at Knock last weekend in great expectation of a guest appearance by the Virgin Mary. And they weren't disappointed, even if she again disguised herself as the sun breaking through the clouds (See Blessed Virgin / "Our" Lady appears at Knock ).

Better than that though, is clairvoyant Joe Coleman’s claim that Herself turned up in his house in Ballyfermot and left a couple of “secret” messages which he decided to reveal anyway. Take it away Mary:

“I love all my children unconditionally with my immaculuate heart especially all my priests who are not listening to my call. I ask all my children to pray for my priests. Pray. Pray. Pray”.

That’s the first message, and it's a corker alright. Here’s the other bombshell:

“I am the immaculate heart, Mother of all my children, Mother of all God’s children. I am the Immaculate Conception. I am Queen of the heavens. I am Queen of the Earth.”

Sensational stuff, I'm sure you will agree. And it is perfectly clear that only the Virgin Mary could come out with something as illuminating as this. Only she would be privy to such knowledge. Yet there are cynics out there who maintain that Joe Coleman is just plain mad! The fools, the fools!

Despite being a conduit for the Immaculate One, Joe still manages to retain an admirable humility and modesty. Yesterday, he told Joe Duffy’s Liveline that things could have turned nasty down at Knock Shrine, as devotees attempted to touch his visionary hem:

“It was very, very dangerous. People were pulling out of me, tipping off me, throwing their children at me; all they wanted to do was touch me so I would heal them. And I tell them: ‘I don’t heal people, I heal through the Blessed Virgin’. Knock knew this was going to happen and not one priest showed up. They think I’m a crank from Ballyfermot that doesn’t know anything. Well maybe I am a crank to them, but if Our Lady asked me to jump off a mountain tomorrow, I tell you, I’d jump off it”.

Don't do it Joe!!! At least not before you ask Yer Wan for next week’s Lotto numbers the next time she appears in your living room.

My email address is on the left.

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