Evening Echo Opinion: When it comes to election promises, listen to Phillo – Don’t believe a word

Phillo.jpg“Don’t believe a word

For words are only spoken

Your heart is like a promise

Made to be broken.

So sang Philip Parris Lynott, dead these last thirty years. He’d have been 66 now. I can imagine Phillo, older, maybe wiser, advising us as the 2016 General Election kicks off: “Don’t believe a word. Not a word of this is true.”

Cynic that I am, I’d be inclined to agree. Personally, I feel you’ll have no-one but yourself to blame if you believe a word out of any politician’s mouth between here and Friday the 26th of February.

The competing pitches will likely be “Stability versus chaos” and “A fairer recovery”. In other words, “We made the tough decisions but if you re-elect us we won’t do it again” versus “No, vote for us, we have easy answers”.

Between here and polling day, you will be inundated with promises. Promises are the life blood of election campaigns and they’ll fill the airwaves and eat up all the – sigh – fiscal space too.

Promises are made, the saying goes, to be broken, but they have a horrible habit of coming back to haunt those who make them. In the dying days of the last election, the Labour Party – panicked at the prospect of a Fine Gael over-all majority – released their “Every Little Hurts” poster. A play on the Tesco advert, it listed the worst excesses likely to be enacted by Fine Gael unless Labour was in coalition to restrain the harshest of the Blueshirts’ Tory, pauper-culling instincts.

Every little hurtsSure enough, just like Fianna Fáil’s infamous 1987 “Health cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped” poster – health cuts Fianna Fáil in government later introduced – Labour in coalition became part of the government which enacted every one of the cuts Labour had predicted an unrestrained Fine Gael would carry out. Promises, promises.

It could be argued the “Tesco ad” worked; certainly Fine Gael was denied an over-all majority. Former Labour leader and one-time putative candidate for Taoiseach, Eamon Gilmore said recently he had paid “very little attention” to the advert, something for which he said he had paid “a very high price later”.

Still, as Gilmore’s fellow former Labour leader, Pat Rabbitte, said, “Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?”

Of course, what tends to be forgotten or ignored about Rabbitte’s remark is that it was made in the context of a “The Week In Politics” debate about Labour not adding a “Terms and Conditions Apply” clause to their promises (specifically stating that all political pledges are subject to the prevailing economic climate). “You didn’t go into all that detail before the election, you kept it simple,” accused RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke, which was met with the “Isn’t that what you tend to do–?” reply.

No matter, the damage was done and – online at least – Rabbitte’s comment has stuck to Labour’s neck like Coleridge’s albatross. Then again, you could fill the GPO in 1916 with people on Twitter pretending to be disaffected former Labour voters who wouldn’t be fans of Sinn Féin themselves but who’ll be giving the Shinners a grudging vote this time out.

Although the Taoiseach launched this election on Twitter, it remains to be seen how much – or how little – social media will actually affect it. Perhaps the more sedate Facebook will be where online difference (if any) is made, as friends or at least acquaintances have polite discussions or even respectful arguments, while Twitter continues its downward spiral into personal abuse and – ultimately – irrelevance.

As usual, it’ll be on the doorsteps and airwaves that candidates will have the most impact and it’ll be there the promises will come thick, fast and made to be broken.

Mind you, as Irish Examiner columnist Michael Clifford points out, while broken promises can be bad for political parties, sometimes kept promises (like Fianna Fáil’s 1977 giveaway manifesto) can be disastrous for the country.

So, then, promises you’ll likely hear between now and the 26th. Fix the HSE? Free GP care (again)? Tax cuts? End the USC? A living wage? Fix childcare? End homelessness? #RepealThe8th? Hold back the floods?

No coalition with this crowd, that shower or the other?

Forget it. For all the promises, all the slogans and all the guff you’ll hear between now and the election, only two words matter: “79 seats”.

Since the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2011 reduced the number of TDs to 158 – and taking the Ceann Comhairle out of the equation – 79 seats is the number needed for a majority.

The barrister and pundit Noel Whelan recalls being in Fianna Fáil headquarters as the 1989 election results came in and the previously unthinkable became suddenly thinkable.

Outgoing Taoiseach Charlie Haughey had firmly ruled out coalition but, writing down every possible combination of parties and/or independents that added-up to a majority, the then-party accountant Seán Fleming realised “If those are the numbers, any of (these combinations) is possible”. Ultimately, the price of power for Fianna Fáil was abandoning its core principle and going into coalition, and going into coalition with the hated Progressive Democrats.

Terms and conditions apply to all promises and you’d want to be very naïve indeed to trust that any party will – post election – rule out a deal if the numbers add up.

79 seats. Everything else is just marketing.

Listen to Phillo. “Don’t believe a word.”

Originally published as an op-ed in the Evening Echo 11th February 2016

Donal O’Keeffe

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Enda and Joan’s 93% Democratic Revolution #fgaf16

Enda JoanIn 2011, Enda Kenny declared “a democratic revolution”. Five years on, how’s that working out? Let’s ask the Taoiseach and the Táinaiste. Two weeks ago, they awarded their government a success rate of 93%.

That’s impressive, don’t you think?

Tonight sees Enda’s big speech to #Blueshirtpalooza16, er, sorry, the Fine Gael Árd Fheis. Weeks from the 2016 general election, he has a very real chance of being the very first Fine Gael leader to be elected Taoiseach for two consecutive terms. The Journal Politics noted that his opening remarks at the start of the gathering managed to include the words “keep the recovery going” ten times in under fifteen minutes.

So I wonder what tonight’s speech will be about.

The smart money would be on distilled versions of Enda’s standard Dáil deflections (“I don’t propose to take any lectures from you, Deputy Martin…” “So I say to you, Deputy Adams, that you have some cheek coming in here…) and a healthy airing of our old friend, TINA (There Is No Alternative).

Fianna Fáil wrecked the country… Sinn Féin is still being run out of the back room of a pub in West Belfast… the rest of them are typified by that Ming Wallace fella… Irish families made too many sacrifices to throw it all away now… Difficult decisions… Jobs… Fine Gael will always make sure work pays more than welfare (by cutting the bollocks out of welfare). Let’s keep the Tory pauper-cull going.

You know yourself.

Meanwhile, what about Labour, the junior coalition party currently in the end stages of what Noel Whelan so vividly described as Fine Gael’s “Black Widow embrace”?

Much has been made lately of Labour’s deputy leader canvassing with the Chief Executive of the Football Association of Ireland. Personally, I can’t decide whether it would be more damaging to be seen with Alan Kelly or with John Delaney, but I think Joan Burton’s appointment of retired union boss David Begg as Chair of the Pensions Authority is a far greater own-goal for Labour.

Although Begg’s appointment was entirely legal, the Tánaiste’s decision to bypass the Public Appointments Service and directly appoint a supporter – however “imminently qualified” – to a State job left her open to entirely-avoidable accusations of cronyism and a motion of no confidence. Anyway, as Labour TD Ciara Conway put it, “Why have the rules in place if you’re not going to abide by them?”

It’s clear David Begg didn’t even particularly want the job, calling its €20,500 remuneration “not lavishly paid”. It’s worth noting that 30% of Irish workers earn less than €20,000. As unforced errors go, this is a beauty.

At this stage, Labour looks increasingly like it knows the jig is up and just wishes the ordeal of the election were over. It can’t be long now before Joan piles the entire party into a bendy bus and drives out into the desert to meet the mothership.

I laughed when the Taoiseach and Tánaiste, our democratic revolutionaries, awarded their government a success rate of 93%. President Bartlet wouldn’t score 93% and he had the advantage of being twinkly Martin Sheen, surrounded by like-minded fast-talking, fast-walking living saints. Mind you, Jed Bartlet was a fictional character, so I suppose he had to be at least slightly believable.

Still, though, Enda and Joan are 93% happy with the state of the country after their five years in power. 93% doesn’t leave a lot of room for the 138,000 – one in eight – Irish children living in consistent, abject poverty.

93% doesn’t leave a lot of room for homeless families wedged into hotel rooms, or Traveller families living in “temporary” tinder-box halting sites or refugee families penned like cattle into damp, miserable Direct Provision centres.

93% doesn’t leave a lot of room for desperately ill and vulnerable people who depend on funds raised by volunteers standing in the rain because the State continues to outsource essential services to charities, many of which are headed by ridiculously-pensioned executives on telephone-number salaries.

93% doesn’t leave a lot of room for the Irish women (twelve every day) forced to travel abroad for medical procedures because thirty-three years ago we let religious fundamentalists hijack our Constitution.

93% doesn’t leave a lot of room for patients on trolleys in draughty hospital corridors, or the 9% of workers living in actual, consistent poverty (according to the Taoiseach himself) and it certainly doesn’t leave a lot of room for those of us utterly aghast at the idea that agents of our State can routinely monitor our private correspondence without so much as a judicial by-your-leave.

So our democratic revolutionaries think we have 93% of (to use a phrase Enda doesn’t seem to anymore) The Best Small Country In The World In Which To Do Business (By 2016). The rest of us will have to bunch up if we’re to squeeze into the 7% of the country that Enda and Joan deign to acknowledge they’ve made a complete and utter hames of.

Evening Echo Opinion: Frozen out of the housing market – so fix it

Conventional political wisdom says there are no votes in fixing homelessness. Maybe that explains our spiralling housing crisis.

homelessIn 2011, 34 people slept rough for one night or more in Cork City. Last year, that figure was 284. As of the end of October this year, there are 311 people sleeping rough on the streets of Ireland’s second city.

By any measure, that’s a damning indictment of the Government which came to power in 2011. That said, horrible as it is, people sleeping rough is only the tip of a far greater problem.

Last week I visited the Cork Simon Community soup kitchen for a chat with the staff and to see first-hand the services they provide. A hot meal is given to anyone who needs it, in a warm, secure environment and most evenings up to fifty people call in. Almost half of them are in private rented accommodation. It’s no exaggeration to say that people who cannot afford to feed themselves are potentially only one rent payment away from homelessness.

The weeks around the recent Budget saw a lengthy stand-off between the Departments of Finance and Environment on the twin issues of rent certainty and rent allowance. The conflict centred on the seemingly unstoppable force of Labour’s Environment Minister Alan Kelly meeting the apparently immovable object of Fine Gael’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan.

Kelly was pushing for rent certainty and an increase in rent allowance. Noonan was reportedly having none of it, saying that rent certainty would interfere with the market and that landlords would just up rents to swallow up any increase in rent allowance.

The front line of homelessness

Now, if you wanted to find out about any issue, you’d talk to the experts, wouldn’t you? If you wanted to find out about – say – homelessness, you’d go to the people on the front line of helping the homeless on a daily, nightly, hourly basis.

People like Sister Stan of Focus Ireland, Brother Kevin of the Capuchin Day Centre and Father Peter McVerry. People like the Simon Community.

The people who know most about homelessness all speak with one voice on an immediate way to help prevent more yet people falling between the cracks: increase rent allowance and guarantee rent certainty. Rent allowance hasn’t increased in two-and-a-half years and in that time rents are up by up to 30%. Landlords would be prevented from increasing rents to absorb any rent allowance increase if tenants had rent certainty.

The Kelly/Noonan stand-off eventually resolved itself in the decision that rent supplement would not be increased but rents would be frozen for two years.

Speaking personally as someone living in private rented accommodation, the news of an impending rent freeze resulted in my getting a panicky call from my landlord suggesting that I might like to have a chat – as a matter of some urgency – about a 20% rent increase. Anecdotal evidence on Twitter suggests I’m far from alone.

The rent freeze was signed into law by President Higgins on the 4th of December. It certainly grants breathing room to those currently in private rented accommodation but without an increase in rent allowance it does nothing to help those currently stuck in emergency accommodation and those frozen out of a skyrocketing rental market.

As of September, there are 200 people in emergency accommodation in Cork. Those are the people who have fallen between the cracks, out of private rented accommodation but – to be simplistic – who are not yet sleeping on the streets.

Homelessness is a huge problem, one with myriad causes and one which – for Government – has no immediately obvious easy solution. We had a “Super-Junior” minister (Jan O’Sullivan) with responsibility for connecting the different departments involved in tackling homelessness – for instance, Social Protection, Environment and Health – but that position was reshuffled out of existence last year.

Talking with Simon staff as people eat their dinners in an environment of dignity and respect, I’m left with the impression that Jan O’Sullivan’s old position needs to be reinstated as a matter of urgency. I’m offered several suggestions as to how we might begin to get to work at fixing homelessness but they all seem to depend on political goodwill.

For instance, as of September, there are 424 social houses currently boarded up in Cork City and 268 more in the county.

Supply is an obvious problem in our housing crisis and it seems obvious that we need to look at new builds in social housing and – perhaps – incentivising landlords to rent to people living currently in homelessness. We also need to look at the type of accommodation on offer. Most of the accommodation currently available in Cork is two and three bedroom, but the majority of homeless people are single.

As in all politics, joined-up thinking is vital. As is goodwill. Again, it seems a “Minister for Homelessness” would be a godsend for some of the most vulnerable people in our Republic.

Alan Kelly and Michael Noonan’s “war of words”

Speaking of politics, surely given their bitter fight over the issue of rent and the fact that the day-to-day lives of real and very desperate people depended upon their decisions, tensions must still run high between Alan Kelly and Michael Noonan?

Miriam O’Callaghan certainly seemed to think so, on RTÉ’s Prime Time as the alleged hostilities raged.

“What will happen next in the war of words between the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly?” she asked. According to the Irish TimesMiriam Lord, Noonan and Kelly were actually having a pint together in the Dáil members’ bar and watching the telly as O’Callaghan spoke.

It was Noonan’s round.

“Give us two more pints there, Peadar,” the Finance Minister allegedly said, “and turn off that auld shite while you’re at it.”

Conventional political wisdom says there are no votes in fixing homelessness. Maybe conventional political wisdom is right, but you’ll have a lot of people looking for your vote in the New Year.

If you want to fix homelessness, tell them your vote depends on it.

♦ Cork Simon can be contacted on corksimon.ie or 021 4278728

(Published in the Evening Echo, 17th December 2015)

Donal O’Keeffe

Official: Identity Ireland deliberately launched on Utoya anniversary, are not a registered political party

Never assume, goes the saying because, well, you know the rest.

Sometimes the important question doesn’t get asked because the assumption is made that the question is too obvious or it doesn’t need to be asked because the answer is too obvious. Sometimes you take things for granted and sometimes you take people at their word. Even when they are hate-filled racists.

A while back, I wrote a column in TheJournal.ie (“Time for Ireland’s new anti-immigration party to answer difficult questions about its members“) pointing out – among other things – that Ireland’s new, anti-immigrant political party Identity Ireland had chosen to launch their movement on the 22nd of July, the anniversary of the Utoya massacre.

“Identity Ireland, an anti-immigration party, was launched… on 22 July, a hugely significant date. It is the anniversary of the murders of seventy-seven people by the far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

“Four years ago, on the 22nd of July, 2011, Anders Behring Breivik set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people. He then travelled – disguised as a policeman – to Utoya Island where he shot dead 69 young people.

“On the morning of the attacks, Breivik laid out online a sprawling manifesto of hatred which encompassed his extreme nationalist views, his Islamophobia and his opposition to immigration, feminism and multiculturalism.

“Launching an anti-immigration movement on the anniversary of the Utoya massacre, though? All a pure coincidence, according to Identity Ireland, who say they hadn’t realised the significance of the date.

“You would have to imagine that anyone launching a right-wing anti-immigrant political movement on the anniversary of the Utoya massacre could only choose to do so for two possible reasons.

“Either they are deeply sinister individuals bent on showing solidarity with racist extremists whilst sending a not-very-subtle message of terror to immigrants; or else they are profoundly stupid people lacking any sense of history or self-awareness. Those possibilities are, of course, not mutually-exclusive.”

Online, Identity Ireland and their fans were not slow to respond. On Twitter, on Facebook and in TheJournal.ie’s comments section, they howled that I am variously, anti-Irish, anti-white and – no kidding – a Martian. My linking the launch date to the anniversary of the Utoya massacre was the starting point for most of the outrage.

One defence made repeatedly on Twitter was that the date was a coincidence and one mandated by the office of the Clerk of the Dáil. The 22nd of July was (depending on the claimant) either the last possible date they could apply to register as a political party (perhaps prior to the summer recess?) or indeed the only date on which they could do so.

(I was also told that the Social Democrats launched on the same date so why wasn’t TheJournal.ie calling them far-right extremists? Um, no. The Social Democrats launched their party on the 15th of July.)

The Identity Ireland lads say they launched their right-wing, anti-immigrant party on the anniversary of the Utoya massacre because the office of the Clerk of the Dáil forced them to do so and it’s all a coincidence, move along folks, don’t be listening to our alien insect overlords in the EU forcing the blacks on us.

There was an easy way of clarifying this.

I emailed the Clerk of the Dáil’s office and asked: “Is there a deadline after which it is not possible to apply to register as a political party? Is there a particular date upon which those wishing to apply for the status of political party (have to do so) or is this something which can be done at any time of the year?”

The Private Secretary to the Registrar replied: “There is no deadline after which it is not possible to apply to register as a political party. There is no particular date upon which those wishing to apply for the status of political party – this can be done at any time of the year.”

I asked: “Just to clarify, the date of their launch would therefore have been their own choice and not an imposition by your office, as they claim?”

She responded: “The date of the launch is a matter for the party concerned.”

So there you have it. Of the 365 days available to them, Identity Ireland chose to launch their right-wing, anti-immigrant party on the anniversary of the Utoya massacre.

My original question stands: Are Identity Ireland sinister, racist thugs or are they historically-ignorant idiots?

Back to my initial point, though. Sometimes the important question, the obvious question, is the one question nobody thinks to ask. Certainly, I didn’t think of it and, to my knowledge, none of the broadcasters who gave Identity Ireland airtime thought to ask either.

David O’Leary did ask, though. He asked the Private Secretary to the Registrar whether Identity Ireland actually is registered as a political party.

She replied: ” Identity Ireland are not a registered political party and have not registered with this office to date.

“The current Register can be obtained on our website.”

That raises several questions, obvious or otherwise.

What are Identity Ireland at, at all? They claim they’re running candidates in the upcoming election. If that’s true, why haven’t they registered as a political party?

Will the fact that they are not a registered as a political party give RTÉ producers cause to pause the next time refugees drown in the Mediterranean and the State broadcaster feels its obsession with “balance” would be served by a contribution from a representative of the hard of feeling community?

Why did the three geniuses behind Identity Ireland go through the hullabaloo of launching a political party and not actually register it? Were they unable to meet the requisite terms of registration? Were they unable to convince the Registrar that they were going to contest the upcoming election? Were they unable to meet the threshold of 300 members? Surely there are 300 racists in Ireland?

Was it how they didn’t want to spend the €635 needed for the deposit?

Is Identity Ireland actually serious about being a political party or are its members just a bunch of hate-filled, racist headbangers looking for attention and hoping to get on the wireless?

Yes, I know that last is a very obvious question but sometimes those need to be asked.

Donal O’Keeffe

 

 

 

 

The Cult of Little Nellie of Holy God, and the Magdalenes who lie unmourned beside her

Little NellieLetter to the Editor, The Irish Examiner, Saturday, August 22, 2015

Dear Sir,

The Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, wants the body of “Little Nellie” to be exhumed from its grave at the now-derelict Good Shepherd Convent site in Sunday Well (Irish Examiner, 18 August).

Ellen Organ was a five year old girl who died in 1908. Her short life was marked by ill health and extreme religious devotion. After her death, she attained a certain celebrity as the “unofficial patron saint of Cork” and her grave became, for a time, a site of pilgrimage.

The Bishop told RTÉ News that he favours exhuming her remains and moving them to “a more public place”. It may have slipped the Bishop’s notice – and that of the locals – but Little Nellie is not alone in the Good Shepherd grounds. There are also two mass graves on the site, pits containing the bodies of unknown numbers of women who lived anonymous lives of suffering and shame, and who died in the service of the Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundry.

By all means, exhume Little Nellie. Exhume all of the bodies. That site should be declared a crime scene and the Catholic institutions responsible for those deaths should be held to account.

In the meantime, by all means, say a prayer for Little Nellie but don’t forget all of the women who died unloved and unmourned in the “care” of the Good Shepherd Convent.

Donal O’Keeffe

Fermoy

Co Cork

Letter to the Editor, The Irish Examiner, Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dear Sir,

I refer to the letter by Donal O’Keeffe (‘Families sent their daughters to laundries’ – The Irish Examiner, August 24).

I expect him to answer a few questions with honesty and common sense. What exactly does he mean by saying that the nuns were responsible for their – the Magdalene girls’ – deaths?

Why didn’t the families claim their daughters’ remains?

Last but not least – no cliches, Donal – why did they let their daughters go there in the first place?

Sheila Griffin

Blennerville

Tralee

Co Kerry

Letter to the Editor, The Irish Examiner, Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dear Sir,

Sheila Griffin asks what I meant when I said (Letters, August 24) that Catholic institutions were responsible for the deaths of girls and women who died whilst incarcerated in Magdalene laundries.

Given that these girls and women lived lives (in some cases, whole lives) of brutality, drudgery, and shame, stripped of all basic human rights — even their names — while working for free for the financial benefit of those Catholic institutions, I think my meaning could hardly be clearer.

Ms Griffin asks why families sent their daughters to Magdalene laundries and why, at the end of their wasted lives, those families did not claim their bodies. Ms Griffin urges that I answer her with “honesty and common sense” and without resorting to clichés. I’ll do my best with the first two, but the last may present me with a difficulty.

Is it a cliché to say that girls and women were sent to the laundries for the sin of having had unsanctioned (and not always consensual) sex?

Is it a cliché to say that families behaved as they did because of the curtain-twitching Ireland in which they lived?

Is it a cliché to say that Ireland was corrupted from top to bottom by a sex-obsessed version of Catholicism which resulted in an Ireland where family bonds took second place to “respectability”, where girls and women identified only by their initials slaved their lives away and where 796 dead children lie unidentified in a mass grave in Tuam?

Donal O’Keeffe

Fermoy

Co Cork

Letter to the Editor, The Irish Examiner, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dear Sir,

My computer – ancient like myself – broke down, and I was unable to reply to Donal O’Keeffe’s letter in response to my letter of August 24.

I owe Donal an apology for goading him to rant and rave. I hold no brief for the Magdalene homes, but we mustn’t judge the past with bags over our heads.

And good heavens, how good we are at that!

He didn’ t answer my questions . He didn’t explain how the nuns were” criminally responsible” for the girls’ deaths, and he certainly glossed over the part played by the girls’ families.

I haven’t read the McAleese report but has anyone ever passed judgement on the behaviour of the families ?

It was the families who, after all, “gave” the girls to the nuns. Did these families ever visit them?

Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how unmarried mothers were treated, in bygone days, in other jurisdictions where the Catholic Church had no influence.

Were they “sequestered from the world in a rural farmhouse” as Lydia Bennett might have been, if Mr Darcy hadn’t bribed Mr Wickham to marry her? (Pride and Prejudice)

Yes Donal, the Magdalene homes weren’t happy places, to put it mildly, but the reasons for that were complex indeed, so please take the proverbial bag off your head and stop judging the past by the present.

Sheila Griffin

Blennerville

Tralee

Letter to the Editor, The Irish Examiner, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dear Sir,

With regard to the Magdalene Laundries, (1st September,) I am urged by Ms Sheila Griffin to not judge the past by the standards of the present and, rather than question the Catholic institutions that owned the laundries and benefited financially from slave labour, I should look instead at the families of the girls and women incarcerated in the alleged care of the Church.

Ms Griffin claims she holds no brief to defend the Magdalene Laundries and then departs on such a lengthy flight of whataboutery that she wouldn’t look out of place on the Northern Executive.

Whataboutery is a common practice of those who wish to distract from the misdeeds of those they defend. Typically, this is done by whatabouting the crimes of others. Whatabout the families, asks Ms Griffin. Whatabout non-Catholic countries. Whatabout something about Pride and Prejudice (I confess I tuned out slightly once she started on the Jane Austin).

Invoking the behaviour of families who sent girls to the laundries can never excuse the inhumanity of the nuns who ran those institutions but this is a standard tactic of whataboutery.

Another great trick is to say “It was all a long time ago. Ireland was very different then. We are all responsible. Therefore, ultimately, no-one is responsible.”

I believe the nuns – and their orders – should be held criminally responsible for the deaths of those in their care, but Ms Griffin says we cannot judge the past by the standards of the present. Fair enough.

Could we instead, perhaps, measure the purveyors of Christianity by the standards of Christ?

Remember, Jesus advocated that those who would harm children should have a millstone tied to their necks and that they be flung into the deepest depths of the ocean.

Perhaps a criminal prosecution isn’t good enough after all.

Yours sincerely,

Donal O’Keeffe

Related: Please read my column in TheJournal.ie

The story of the Cork 4-year-old who is the reason First Communion age is now 7

Woody Guthrie: I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good

woody-guthrie

“I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.

“I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood. I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built.

“I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.”

-Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (1912 – 1967)