Monday, 25 July 2011
“How many divisions does the Pope have?” Soviet tyrant Joseph Stalin famously asked. His Chinese counterpart, Mao Zedong, claimed that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. The power of the Catholic Church is one example that disproves Mao's claim.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's excellent speech on child abuse has made headlines around the world, and with good reason. 'Catholic' Ireland has finally told the Vatican that its behaviour is no longer acceptable.
The only caveat I would add is that the speech didn't go far enough in acknowledging the State's ultimate responsibility to protect its children.
An oft-repeated claim is that the Catholic Church wielded immense power in Ireland up until very recently. The words of bishops and priests were law, both literally and socially.
People who challenged the power of the church were sidelined and ostracised, many of them felt forced to leave the country.
However, the Catholic Church has no divisions, it has no guns to enforce its will on the Irish people. The only power the Catholic Church has is the power the Irish people give it.
It was the citizens of Ireland that followed and enforced every pronouncement from the pulpit. It was the citizens of this country that allowed priests and nuns to abuse children.
The Church did cover up much of what was being done, however, people looked the other way on the rare occasions that victims and campaigners did speak out.
A perfect example of this was in 1954 when the case of a 14 year old boy who was hospitalised after a severe beating in Artane Industrial School was raised in the Dáil by Independent TD Peadar Cowen.
According to Creating Ireland by Paul Daly, Education Minister Seán Moylan said:
"I would be as much concerned as the Deputy is if I thought it was anything other than a very isolated incident and in one sense what might be called an accident...I cannot conceive any deliberate ill-treatment of boys by a community motivated by the ideals of its founders. I cannot conceive any sadism emanating from men who were trained to a life of sacrifice and of austerity. They are also trained to have a greater devotion to a very high purpose...The point is that accidents will happen in the best regulated families and in this family there are 800 boys...These boys are difficult to control at times. Maybe it is essential now and again that children should be punished."
One of the reason priests could get away with the rape of children, why they could be transferred from parish to parish, was because of the slavish, subservient attitude people had to them. How many times have you read of parents whose children were abused going to the local parish priest or bishop instead of straight to the gardaí?
The Irish State allowed Catholic religious orders to run schools, orphanages, industrial schools and Magdelene Laundries and abdicated its duties to protect children from sexual and physical abuse.
The Catholic Church couldn't have gotten away with their horrific behaviour in relation to child abuse without the power the Irish people and State gave them.
The Government should indeed expel the Papal Nuncio, as the Irish people would have lost their deference to the Church a lot sooner if it hadn't covered up most of its crimes.
It should pursue the Church for half the cost of compensation for victims. If the Church pleads a lack of funds to pay up, I know of three massive houses plus extensive grounds it owns in the parish I'm from, Clondalkin village, alone, which even in today's market could fetch well over a million euros.
The Irish people and State are liable for the rest of the compensation as they are ultimately responsible for the protection of the children of the nation.
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Tá an-chuid cáinte déanta ag grúpaí den eite chlé ar an tarrtháil atá déanta ar bhainc san Eoraip agus sna Stáit Aontaithe Meiriceá.
Tá na céadta billiún caite ag rialtais ar bhainc a theip de bharr droch-iasachtaí.
Cháin go leor daoine ar an eite dheis an tarrtháil seo chomh maith, ina measc, an Tea Party i SAM agus eacnamaithe mór le rá in Éirinn.
Dar leo, ba cheart na bainc a fhágáil ag rialacha an chaipitleachais agus ligint dóibh teipeadh go hiomlán.
Ní thuigeann siad riail órga an chaipitleachais áfach, go gcuirfear gach prionsabal caipitleach ar fionraí má chaithfear saibhreas an uasail aicme a chosaint.
Tá tuairim shoineanta acu go gcreideann lucht an rachmais i rialacha an chaipitleachais – an fhírinne ná go dtacaíonn siad le pé córas a thuillfidh níos mó airgid dóibh. Is é saint agus féinleas bunchlocha an chaipitleachais, mar sin, níl aon chúis nach gcuirfeadh siad a rialacha féin ar leataobh chun níos mó airgid a thuilleadh.
An raibh creidimh daingean ag na tiarnaí agus barúin sa feodachas agus ag ríthe agus impirí sa schlábhaíocht, nó ar thacaigh siad leo toisc gur bhain siad leas as na córais eacnamaíochta sin?
Deir na daoine a thacaíonn le tarrtháil na mbanc go gcaithfear é a dhéanamh toisc go gclisfeadh ar an gcóras ar fad dá dteipfeadh ar na bainc. Sé sin, teipfidh ar an gcaipitleachas má chloítear le rialacha an chaipitleachais.
Tá go leor fadhbanna ag an gcóras reatha ach an bhfuil córas níos fearr ann? Go dtí seo níl an fhianaise ó thíortha sóisialacha ró-láidir. Tá sampla rathúil amháin den sóisialachas daonlathach sa tríú domhain, Kerala san Ind, ach níl aon cheann sa chéad domhain.
Tá neart deashamplaí den daonlathas sóisialta áfach, sna tíortha Lochlannacha ach go háirithe, agus ní mór d'Éirinn a n-eiseamláir a leanúint.
Monday, 18 July 2011
The finale of the BBC's Apprentice on Sunday was a total sham.
Having whittled down the original 16 contestants during 11 entertaining episodes, the final four were judged on their business 'plans'.
The candidate with the best one was apparently going to win the series. Suzie's was by far the strongest, but Tom was the eventual winner.
He had some vague notion of selling chairs to businesses to reduce the costs of back injury, but as it turns out, Alan Sugar ditched this plan after the show and decided to develop Tom's curved nail file which he had invented and sold before the Apprentice even started.
So what exactly was the point of the 11 weeks of gruelling tasks?
Clearly whoever came up with the 'business plan' concept for this year's series should be hauled before an panel of TV heavyweights and ritually humiliated before being 'fired'.
The Apprentice is entertaining mainly because of the challenges the candidates are faced with, and like most reality TV you can't help but think what you would do and say if you were in that situation.
It is also is a bit of a guilty pleasure, a modern incarnation of the gladiator spectacles of old where contestants are pitted against each other in a dog eat dog fight to the bitter end.
The weakest members are selected for disposal and made to attack each other (delivered through the 'who do you think is responsible for this mess' question).
The competitors are then metaphorically shredded before Lord Caesar gives of of them the thumbs down.
Terrible stuff altogether...anyone know when TV3's Apprentice is starting?
Friday, 15 July 2011
Táthar ann a deir go bhfuil páirtithe polaitiúla go léir mar an gcéanna agus nach n-athraíonn toghcháin faic. Go hiondúil ní tharlaíonn athruithe ollmhóra nuair a bhuann páirtithe nua toghchán, ach níl sé fíor gur saothar in aisce atá i vótáil.
Chonacthas é seo tar éis foilsiú Thuairisc Chluana an tseachtain seo. Léirigh an tuairisc nár chuir Deoise Chluana rialacha na hEaglaise Éireannaigh i bhfeidhm ó thaobh líomhaintí faoi mhí-úsáid leanaí a chur ar aghaidh chuig na gardaí.
Dhiúltaigh an Vatacáin agus an Papal Nuncio comhoibriú leis an bhfiosrú ar Dheoise Chluana agus léiríodh chomh maith go ndúirt an Vatacáin leis an eaglais in Éirinn in 1996 nár chloí na polasaithe tuairisce diana in Éirinn le polasaithe an Vatacáin fhéin.
Tá cáineadh láidir déanta ag ionadaithe ón rialtas nua ar an Vatacáin de bharr seo. Dúirt an Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore go raibh sé go hiomlán doghlactha gur dímhol an Vatacáin do shagairt in Éirinn líomhaintí faoi ionsaithe ar pháistí a thuairisciú chuig na gardaí.
Tá sé ráite ag cathaoirleach Fhine Gael, Charlie Flanagan, gur cheart an Papal Nuncio a dhíbeart ón tír.
Anois, chuir é sin i gcomparáid leis an méid a bhí le rá ag Brian Cowen in 2009 nuair a nochtaigh Tuairisc Murphy gur dhiúltaigh an Vatacáin comhoibriú leis an bhfiosrú ar ionsaithe gnéis ar pháistí i mBaile Átha Cliath.
Creid nó ná creid ach chosain ár dTaoiseach ag an am seasamh náireach na Vatacáine.
Léiríonn an difríocht simplí seo nach bhfuil na páirtithe 'uilig mar an gcéanna' agus gur fiú vóta a chaitheamh i dtoghcháin.
Thursday, 14 July 2011
A fierce debate has been raging in the letters pages of the Irish Times and Irish Independent this week over language fanaticism and extremism.
It all started over two typically hyperbolic letters complaining about money 'wasted' on bilingual leaflets printed by state bodies. They argued that as everyone speaks English there is no need for any of this material to be made available in Irish.
Last year I wrote an article for the Insideireland.ie website (which unfortunately is no longer available due to changes in the site's layout) which pointed out that such an attitude is effectively arguing for compulsory, lifelong English for everyone in the State.
I also pointed out that if someone who forces Irish on others is to be labelled an Irish language fanatic, then someone who forces English on others is an English language fanatic. Some of the letter writers have made similar points, while one claimed that the 'cost' of translating one of the leaflets mentioned would be about €8.
Another letter says that Ireland is a 'wholly English-speaking nation' and always has been, which is false on both counts and a nice way to deny the existence of Irish speakers. It also claims that 'forcing' Irish on people has made people hate the language.
It's true that people do hate Irish, but people have been hating Irish for hundreds of years, long before 'compulsory Irish' or the Official Languages Act. Throughout the vast majority of that time there was one very simple reason the Irish language was hated, because it was the Irish language. This is the reason extremist British nationalists hated and continue to hate the language.
Many people from the Irish nationalist tradition also hated the language long before 'compulsory Irish' or the Official Languages Act.
In 1845 Thomas Davis wrote that the middle classes in Ireland think it a “sign of vulgarity” to speak Irish, while Douglas Hyde wrote in 1896 “that it is considered a disgrace in most Irish cities to speak Irish.” In 1926 the Gaeltacht Commission stated that in relation to the language “the educated were ignorant of it; and they protected their position by affecting to despise it, or often despising it with conviction.”
These were adults who had gone through the education system before Irish became compulsory, yet they despised the language, some of them “with conviction”.
There is a fallacy at the heart of the 'I hate Irish because it's compulsory in school' argument.
If this theory were true then we will shortly see a massive increase in hatred for suits among members of the Dáil. New rules are set to be introduced to make it compulsory to wear a suit in the chamber. A small number of TDs have objected to being forced to wear a suit - the TDs who don't wear one at present.
The rest of the members don't object to the rule, and won't end up hating suits because of the new compulsion, because they agree with wearing suits already. The TDs who object to the 'compulsory suits' rule don't want to wear a suit in the first place, not because there is a new rule forcing them to do so.
It's high time we had an honest debate about the real roots of hatred of the Irish language. The reason this hasn't happened, and that people make ludicrous arguments to justify their objections, is that bigotry and fear lie at the heart of this hatred.
I and many others speak Irish because it's the Irish language, so it should be no surprise that others rejects and hate the language for the same reason.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Beidh na mílte baill den Ord Oráisteach ag mairseáil sa Tuaisceart inniu le ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar Chath na Bóinne. Beidh na mílte eile ar shráideanna na sé chontae ag tacú leis an gcomóradh ar chaithréim Rí Liam in 1690.
Táthar ann a cháineann an tOrd de bharr nach féidir le Caitlicigh a bheith mar bhaill den eagraíocht, ach níl aon chiall leis an gcáineadh sin. Is eagraíocht Phrotastúnach é nach ligeann do dhaoine ó chreidimh eile bheith páirteach ann, agus níl aon rud cearr le sin. Ní bheadh aon chiall le daoine neamh-Chaitliceacha a bheith páirteach in Opus Dei nó Léigiún Mhuire, mar shampla.
Níl chiallaíonn sé seo nach bhfuil údar gearáin ag daoine faoin Ord Oráisteach áfach, go háirithe Caitlicigh agus náisiúntóirí ó Thuaidh.
Níl aon amhras ach gur eagraíocht antoisceach frith-Chaitliceach atá san Ord. Ní féidir le baill den Ord a bheith pósta le Caitlicigh agus ní féidir leo freastal ar sheirbhís Chaitliceach. Seans nach bhfuil cead acu freastal ar sheirbhísí de chuid aon chreideamh eile, ach is é an Caitliceachas an t-aon reiligiún a luaitear i mionn an Oird.
Eagraíonn an tOrd iliomad mairseáil gach bliain le ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar chath a chaill Caitlicigh in Éirinn. Tar éis an chatha cuireadh dlíthe frith-Chaitliceacha i bhfeidhm sa tír agus cuireadh Caitlicigh faoi chois ar feadh na céadta bliain.
An bhfuil íonadh ar éinne go gcuirfeadh eagraíocht dá leithéid isteach ar Chaitlicigh? Go dtí go mbaintear na rialacha frith-Chaitliceacha ní bheifear in ann séanadh ach gur eagraíocht bhiogóideach atá san Ord.
Mar aon le Caitlicigh, tá údar gearáin ag náisiúntóirí faoin Ord. Tá dlúthbhaint ag an Ord le polaitíocht, bhí siad páirteach i mbunú an UUP agus chonacathas anuraidh go raibh sé i lár an aonaigh ó thaobh an vóta aontachtach a mhéadú. Sheas an tOrd in aghaidh Comhaontú Aoine an Chéasta agus tá siad in aghaidh na cumhachtroinnte i Stormont.
Ní féidir a shéanadh ach gur eagraíocht náisiúnach Briotanach docht atá san Ord agus níor cheart go mbeadh íonadh ar éinne go mbeadh náisiúntóirí Éireannacha buartha go mbeadh an tOrd ag iarraidh ceiliúradh a dhéanamh i gceantar ina bhfuil go leor acu ina gcónaí.
Déantar cur síos ar imeachtaí an Oird mar chuid de chultúr an Tuaiscirt, ach ní chiallaíonn sé sin nach féidir é a cháineadh má tá sé tuillte aige. Shílfeá, i sochaí scoilte ar nós Thuaisceart Éireann, nach bhfuil sé ceart ná cóir go mbeadh pobal amháin ag déanamh ceiliúradh ar bhua a fuair siad ar an bpobal eile, go háirithe leis na mílte máirseáil.
Ní fios dom an bhfuil sochaí deighlte eile ar domhan ina dhéanann sciar amháin den phobal ceiliúradh ar bhua a fuair siad ar an gcuid eile. Samhlaigh dá ndéanfadh an pobal Easpáinneach i bPeiriú nó Guatamala ceiliúradh ar bhua a bhí ag a sinsir ar an bpobal Ceastuach nó Máigeach faoi seach.
Mholfainn don Ord Oráisteach deireadh a chuir leis an bhfrith-Chaitliceachas agus an seasamh docht atá acu in aghaidh na cumhachtroinnte agus laghdú a dhéanamh ar líon na máirséalaithe atá acu, go háirithe na cinn nach bhfuil ar 12ú Iúil.
Tá áit an Tuaiscirt sa Ríocht Aontaithe slán go dtí go vótáileanna móramh ar son Éire Aontaithe, agus tá glactha ag náisiúntóirí Éireannacha le sin. Tá sé thar am don Ord Oráisteach glacadh leis nach féidir leo a rogha rud a dhéanamh agus go bhfuil freagrachtaí acu ó thaobh dea-chaidreamh a chothú idir an dá phobal sa Tuaiscirt.
Thursday, 7 July 2011
Millions of people around the world, mainly women, live in fear of murder by relatives over choices they have made in their personal lives. These are commonly referred to as 'honour killings'.
The UN estimates that 5,000 women are murdered every year while Robert Fisk has reported that the true figure could be much higher.
The practice is found mainly in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, but is not an 'Islamic' issue. Honour murders occur in other communities in the region, for example the stoning to death of a Iraqi Yazidi girl in 2007 (pictured above, see graphic report below) lead to the massacre of up to 800 members of that community.
Honour murders have also occurred in Christian, Sikh and Hindu communities. The practice is now found in Europe and other parts of the world, but thankfully none have been recorded in Ireland so far.
Women, and sometimes men, are murdered for a variety of reasons, marrying or falling in love with someone of a different religion or caste, marrying someone the family does not approve of or for refusing to accept an arranged marriage.
Victims of rape, gay people and women who refuse to wear Islamic dress are also murdered by their families. Justice systems in many countries turn a blind eye to these crimes. Others are pressurised by their families into committing suicide.
The number of honour murders is said to be on the increase, which could be the result of women and men no longer being willing to submit to oppressive social rules.
These despicable acts are carried out in the name of a family's 'honour,' although you might have imagined that there is nothing more dishonourable than murdering a member of your own family.
In some ways they are similar to the lynchings of African Americans that occurred in the USA in that members of a marginalised group which is considered inferior by the dominant group are killed for the perceived breaking of social 'norms'.
I believe it is time to stop calling these crimes 'honour killings' and to use the term honour murders instead. Murder, by definition, is always wrong, while 'killing' can be justified in some contexts (war, self-defence etc).
All honour murders are wrong and by using this term we can hasten the day when they are considered totally abhorrent in every corner of the world.
Monday, 4 July 2011
Tá camchuairt Glee tagtha go hÉirinn an tseachtain seo agus tá sé in am dom mar sin admháil gur maith liom an clár.
Ní bheidh mé ag dul chun an seó a fheiceáil áfach, ar dhá chúis, a) ní cailín 14 bliain d'aois mé, agus b) nílim ró-thógtha leis an gceol.
Go deimhin féin nuair a bhreathnaím ar an gclár is minic a mhúchaim an fhuaim nuair atáthar i mbun amhránaíochta nó brúm 'Gluais Ar Aghaidh', go háirithe le linn na n-amhrán maoithneacha ó na ceoldrámaí móra.
Taitníonn an clár liom toisc nach bhfuil na carachtair gan smál, fiú stiúrthóir an chlub Glee, Will Schuester.
Ag tús an tsraithe bhí sé ag iarraidh tuilleadh scoláirí a mhealladh chun an chlub ach bhí air duine mór le rá sa scoil a earcú chun é sin a dhéanamh. Chuir sé ina luí ar chaptaen na foirne peile, Finn, bheith páirteach sa chlub trí líomhaintí bréagacha a chur ina leith go raibh cannabas ina sheilbh aige. Slíbhíneachas deas ansin.
Rud eile a thaitníonn liom ná nár ghéill an clár don ghnáthcheachtas ó thaobh an caidreamh 'will they/won't they' idir Schuester agus múinteoir eile, Emma.
An rud is mó a thaitníonn liom faoin gclár áfach ná an greann, go háirithe na carachtair Sue, Puck agus Terri.
Shílfeá nach bhfuil aon bhaint ag an nGaeilge le Glee, ach tá. Agus mé ag déanamh taighde ar thogra tháinig mé ar thagairt do ghrúpa 'Glee' de chuid Conradh na Gaeilge a bhí gníomhach roimh Chogadh na Saoirse.
De réir ráitis ó fhear darbh ainm James McGuill, a bhí mar bhall d'Óglaigh na hÉireann i nDún Dealgan ag an am:
“The Gaelic League at this time produced several plays in Irish and formed a small group of what was known as 'Glee' Singers, who were always at the disposal of rural districts and concerts and their collection of songs, recitations and Irish dances helped to rekindle the spark of Nationality which was at that time rapidly dying out.”
Glee Gaelach, ní bheadh aon drogall orm admháil go dtaitneodh sé sin liom.
Friday, 1 July 2011
Michael Healy Rae is in trouble this week over revelations that he received 3,636 votes from phone calls made in the Dáil when on RTÉ's Celebrities Go Wild show in 2007.
There is no suggestion that the Kerry TD or his father, Jackie, did anything illegal regarding these phone calls, but whoever made them it was certainly unethical and a shocking waste of citizens' money.
The amount involved in the Healy-Rae story is only €2,600, but the attitude that led to this latest scandal is at the heart of Ireland's current malaise.
As it happens I'm reading Fintan O'Toole's Ship of Fools at the moment, which details the unparalleled economic catastrophe that has happened in Ireland in recent years.
Part of the book deals with widespread corruption in the banking sector and related professions, massive tax evasion and the total failure of regulators and successive governments to crack down on white collar crime and to stop the banks' insane lending practices during the Celtic Tiger.
Among the people who cheated the state out of over €2 billion in tax on deposits using dodgy offshore accounts was none other than the most powerful man in the state, Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, who was described as a 'patriot to his fingertips' by his protege, Bertie Ahern.
Also, this week, TG4 repeated the Scannal programme about the National Irish Bank deposit theft scandal. Basically, NIB stole money from their customers in the 1990s, as revealed by journalists Charlie Bird and George Hook.
The programme includes an interview with then Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy, who actually tried to downplay the robbery, saying that the monies involved only amounted to a tiny percentage of NIB's overall deposits.
PD Leader Mary Harney promised a swift investigation into the scandal, which in the end took six years to complete. No one was ever prosecuted over these events, just as no one has been charged in relation to seriously questionable practices in the banks during and after the Celtic Tiger property boom.
'Cute hoors', 'gombeens', 'stroke politics'- these are terms much in use in recent years to describe petty and not so petty corruption in Irish life.
Ireland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to Transparency International, and we are spared the corrosive 'baksheesh' corruption found in many countries.
However, our brand of corruption tends to manifest itself in the blind eye turned to the illegal and the unethical, and our sneaking regard for cute hoors and 'insiders' who can get ahead through scratching backs.
This behavior is not all about high-powered officials and backroom deals, and may be happening in a place near you. It isn't always simply about gaining some advantage or privilege, the knowledge that you're on the inside track can be reward enough in itself.
Take one mundane example, the humble lock-in. In towns and villages throughout the country, there are pubs that flout the law by serving long after closing time. Many people in the area know this, but yet the gardaí turn a blind eye.
Of course not every pub can serve after hours, this privilege is restricted to a chosen few, the insiders, the people with the right contacts.
Ireland's antiquated closing times contribute to this problem, but instead of doing the sensible and mature thing - liberalising opening hours, we go for the cute hoor approach which sees the majority obeying the law and the insiders hovering above it.
Given a choice of allowing all pubs to set their own hours or breaking the law to get a late drink, I would not be surprised if some preferred the latter. There is, after all, a certain childish excitement in knowing that you are a member of a select group that can do something against the rules and get away with it.
It's a similar story with our tax, planning and banking systems, the plebs go by the rules and the gombeens get around them with impunity, always trying to get one up on 'them' – sometimes identified to as the government, 'Dublin', the media etc, but in reality their fellow citizens.
They're even able to bankrupt an entire country, forcing hundreds of thousands on to dole queues and emigrant airplanes with no real consequences for themselves.
Cute hoors can get elected to the Dáil because they can get some goodies for voters from central government, while neatly sidestepping the blame for the massive unemployment and spending cuts in their constituencies caused by governments they fully supported.
Another term used in relation to the economy is the 'invisible hand of the market'. In Ireland the invisible hand is the one that protects the cute hoors from the law, the one that covers our eyes to the corrupting anti-democratic influence of all donations to political parties.
There was a lot of blather about 'maturity' during the British Queen's recent visit – a real sign of maturity would be for us to end the power of the gombeens and cute hoors by ending our tolerance of their behavior across all levels of society.