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Burning bras to banning burkinis
Did women burn their bras to be told by men to don burkinis?
But first there was nunkinis
It is not such a long a time ago that Catholic nuns wore pretty much identical daywear and swimwear as devout Muslim women of today, although I don’t recall any of them being forced to change out of their swimming garb.
Your political editor Daniel McConnell has now become judge and jury in the Pat Hickey case in Rio de Janeiro.
He calls it Hickey’s Disgrace (Irish Examiner, August 20 .) It would indeed be his disgrace if he was tried and convicted. However, no such trial or conviction has yet taken place.
At this point, the only disgrace is your correspondent’s comments.
Praise for Mr Ross
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross was taking flak from people who believed his trip to Rio to seek transparency about possible OCI involvement in illegal ticketing procedures was ill-advised.
Two facts illustrate clearly that his actions have been, not only vindicated, but praiseworthy.
The first being that he did something positive and travelled to confront the issue head on. And as if reported, his request to have an independent observer on an OCI Inquiry into the issue was refused point blank, then that refusal of itself ensured that an official inquiry would follow.
Unfortunately, the arrogance and lack of transparency displayed by that refusal of a reasonable request also permeates the body politic and many sections of ‘the Irish establishment’.
The commitment of Mr Ross to public service has been demonstrated by exposing and highlighting many scandals in the past and his courageous fight against cronyism.
We need more like him in Dáil Eireann.
Pat Hickey has time to reflect in jail
Pity Pat Hickey, languishing in a top security Brazilian jail. He must quite rightly must be feeling sorely aggrieved and wondering why he received such summary and harsh treatment at the hands of the Brazilian authorities.
He may reflect on the contrasting treatment experienced by those in our own country who were responsible for the greatest political and financial crimes ever committed on Irish people in recent times.
He may likely reflect on how a host of politicians, regulators, bankers, and senior civil servants who recklessly bankrupted our economy were rewarded with massive tax free lump sums and grotesque pensions and sailed off scot free.
He may reflect on the bankers convicted before the courts and how they only got a proverbial slap on the wrist and a short sojourn in an open prison.
He may reflect on a system in this country where white collar crime is endemic and is aided and abetted by a dysfunctional judicial system.
Mr Hickey will have time to reflect on how after all the personal and national trauma that the downturn unleashed on the country (the financial ruin and thousands of suicides), An Garda Siochána is even more poorly resourced and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement has proven to be a toothless quango. Yet the antiquated gravy train that is the legal system remains unregulated and the preserve of the wealthy, despite the efforts of the IMF.
He will surely not be amused as he reflects on a media convulsed with delight at the goings-on in Brazil, but which has failed miserably to seriously and consistently challenge the current government and establishment view that we should forget their complicity in the carnage and austerity imposed on the most vulnerable by a few.
Mr Hickey may think he was unfortunate to attract the wrath of the law due to an accident of timing and geography on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
Eighth Amendment Acknowledgment
The Eighth Amendment is still part of the Constitution and apart from acknowledging the right to life of the unborn, it confers an obligation on the State to defend and vindicate that right.
Therefore it is difficult to comprehend the decision by the State’s Health Minister Simon Harris to thank a woman who had travelled to Britain for an abortion along with her friend who supported her, as they both tweeted about the destruction of a life.
If this is the Minister’s idea of defending and vindicating the right to life, I hope I never need to depend on either him or those who have endorsed his position by their silence, should I need to exercise my right to dignified medical treatment.
In the driving seat to tackle suicide
Apart from the usual headlines of almost everything getting worse, we now hear that taxi drivers have set up a group to try to assist people with suicidal thoughts. Terrific. Add that to the hundreds upon hundreds of charities that are keeping the country going, it is beginning to seem as though we can look after ourselves better than any of our incompetent and/or uninterested government parties.
It would certainly be a lot cheaper for us taxpayers.
Commemorate a true political hero
There’s a widespread cynicism about politics and politicians. Though much of it is deserved; there were, and are, decent politicians. One of these I learned about while researching a novel about the industrial school era, Escape from Grievous Faults.
Martin McGuire was a mill owner and independent member of Limerick City’s borough council. On August 1, 1945, he was at his office in Ennis Street, Limerick, for what he expected would be a routine work day, until a large gathering of locals appeared outside the building. They were angry and upset and he soon saw the cause of their agitation — they pointed to a boy who was shaking with fear, his clothes tattered and his eyes staring blankly.
The boy’s parents told Cllr McGuire that their son, aged 14, had earlier that day arrived home after escaping from Glin Industrial School. He had walked the 32 miles from Glin to Limerick City, keeping to the fields to avoid the roads where he knew the guards would be searching for him.
“Look at why he ran away”, one of his neighbours hollered, and Gerard removed his shirt to reveal the marks of a severe flogging he had received at the school. He had been beaten with a stick that had leather thongs attached to it, commonly known as a cat o’ nine tails. The shirt had partially stuck to his back with the dried blood. Following the flogging he had been immersed in salt water, which added to his anguish. Gerard had been serving a lengthy sentence for missing school.
McGuire was horrified by Gerard’s condition. He responded quickly by asking the local doctor to examine the boy. The doctor confirmed that the marks were caused by the type of beating Gerard had described.
Two days later the councilor wrote to the Minister for Education, Thomas Derrig, protesting the ill-treatment and demanding to know if it was acceptable behavior in an industrial school to strip a boy and flog him so brutally. Six weeks passed without any response from the Minister. On September 29 the Secretary of the Department replied, stating that appropriate action would be taken.
Despite this assurance, nothing happened. Correspondence continued for several weeks between the councilor and the Department.
Though no action was taken against the personnel who had ill-treated Gerard, his mother received a letter from the Department in October informing her that her son had been granted a discharge from Glin Industrial School.
Gerard was delighted and relieved, because he still had a year to complete at the institution. Such an early discharge was rare at the time.
Thanks to Cllr McGuire’s intervention in the case and his vigorous pursuit of justice Gerard was freed from the hell on earth to which he feared the guards would return him.
Unfortunately, the Minister for Education refused to consider a sworn inquiry into the treatment of Gerard Fogarty, as demanded by Cllr McGuire, stating it would “serve no useful purpose.” It’s easy nowadays to denounce the savagery of the industrial school era. Politicians of all parties have spoken out in Dáil and Seanad debates against institutional abuse. But the politicians back then were silent, as was the national and local media. As indeed were many citizens who knew, or suspected, what was happening behind the high walls.
If there isn’t a memorial to Martin McGuire, a politician of principle, courage, and compassion, there ought to be.
In this season of commemoration let’s remember and honour a true hero of Irish politics.
Lower Coyne Street
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