Archive for November 28, 2013

If Martin had info and didn’t act, he too has covered up abuse

Whatever Micheál Martin is accusing Gerry Adams and the Republican movement of, it seems he is equally guilty.

Leave aside the utterly despicable tactic of using a child abuse conviction and sentence against Adams’ brother for political gain.

This after all is Fianna Fail, a party with nothing but contempt for the plain people of Ireland, including the victims of sexual abuse.

Martin’s utterances are very carefully-worded, but no less damning for that.

He claims to have information that “Republicans” have covered up cases of child abuse.

And if he – the leader of a party that still inexplicably calls itself “Republican” – had that information and didn’t act on it, then he is guilty of whatever it is he is accusing the Republican movement (by which he means Sinn Fein, and not his party, which ruined the country) of.

There is a delicious irony in the quote reported by Fionnán Sheehan of the Irish Independent, who reported that Martin apparently said:

This may have been a broader trend within the Republican movement.

Fianna Fáil calls itself “the Republican Party” – is it also to be considered a party of paedophiles, thanks to this crude smear by its own leader?

Maybe so – because if Martin had evidence of a cover-up of child abuse, should he not have talked to the Gardai, rather than the Fianna Fail press office?

This is where his story begins to come apart.

After all, Fianna Fail supported the children’s referendum, the passing of which will lead to the rights of children being written into the Irish constitution.

One of the expected pieces of legislation is to make the reporting of child abuse mandatory – something which Martin, despite claiming to have evidence – hasn’t done.

So why hasn’t Martin reported this cover-up?

There are many possible reasons, but the most likely is that there is no cover-up.

Martin has no evidence of a cover-up of child abuse by Republicans because there isn’t any – this “cover-up” is a hasty and ill-thought-out political construct executed to stop the haemorrhaging of voters from Fianna Fail to Sinn Fein.

The problem for Fianna Fail is that fewer and fewer voters remember when Sinn Fein were inextricably linked to terrorism, and nor can they remember when Fianna Fail were actually Republicans.

What they do remember is the fact that a succession of Fianna Fail spivs destroyed the country and surrendered its economic sovreignty, before being destroyed in a general election which many of their sitting TDs didn’t even bother to contest, such was the guarantee of humiliation.

They have slowly been allowed to rehabilitate themselves, mostly thanks to the fact that the Labour party have taken over their mantle of the party that changes its policies with the winds, and will say and do anything to cling to power.

But the big thorn in their side – and indeed that of everyone else – is Sinn Fein.

Disaffected voters, sickened by the hardship foisted on children, the sick and the elderly by a succession of austerity budgets initiated by Fianna Fail, are flocking in their droves to them.

Abandoned by the Labour Party and ignored by the rest, Sinn Fein is the only party that they feel speaks for them.

Are Fianna Fail worried? You bet they are, and at every turn, the established parties seek to drag up the past.

Jean McConville´s name is regularly shouted across the Dail chamber, always out of context, always by someone out of ideas.

I am no fan of Gerry Adams. His ridiculous insistence that he has never been a member of the IRA is as laughable as it is counter-productive. He has been party to despicable acts and he hasn´t always told the truth about them.

And if senior Republicans like Brendan Hughes – a man whose searing honesty about his own involvement in violence has taught us more than many would care to know about both the armed struggle and Northern Ireland in general – says Adams was a leading figure in the IRA, then I believe him.

But like him or not, Adams has taken political and personal risks to deliver a sort of peace in Ireland.

Micheal Martin, on the other hand, has played an integral part in the destruction of the Irish health service, and eventually the country itself.

He has never shown remorse, never apologised properly for his part in destroying the future of generations of Irish children to come.

And now he has either sat on his hands despite being aware of a child abuse cover-up, or he has fabricated the whole thing to exploit the pain of the family of a political opponent for personal gain.

Neither of those is the behaviour of a statesman. But both are unfortunately par for the course for a Fianna Fail politician.

Micheal Martin, like his party, is a stain on the Irish republic, and needs to be dispensed with if Ireland is ever to recover a semblance of what passes for democracy.

Delendum est.

Freedom of information? The clue is in the name

The “economic council” meets to discuss the latest FOI legislation.

Ireland is one of the only countries in the world in which you have to pay to find out how you’re governed.

And in insisting on charging for information that almost every other civilised democracy provides for free, most Irish people – including journalists – are priced out of the market for truth and transparency.

Let’s leave aside for a while the fact that there has been a huge culture shift in the corridors of power since the original FOI legislation was enacted.

Whereas previously there were paper trails that could be followed and initials to prove who knew what and when, the new legislation has promoted a “three monkeys” culture of plausible deniability – no paper trail, no records, nothing to see here.

It’s common knowledge that Ireland’s democracy is a lame duck, when a roomful of people – mostly men ignorant of the workings of the world – can suddenly and irrevocably give away the financial future of the nation without ever asking its citizens.

(Ironically, this is one of those areas that we will never be told the truth about, given the impossibility of accessing the records).

However hard the work of journalists is to begin with, it will be made virtually impossible now. It’s hard enough to get paid for the work – adding another layer of expense is going to make it even more so.

And what will happen is that even more bright, clever, creative, driven people will move from media into PR and start writing press releases and speeches for the very people they once would have taken down.

And this is the point.

Most of us have been there at some point, the red lamp of the dictaphone on, the list of carefully-compiled questions put aside as we realise that the interview subject sitting in front of us has a story to tell, if only we’d ask the right questions.

So the question is this – why is this government going back on its word and making the Freedom of Information process even more opaque?

And the answer is equally simple – if government in Ireland was truly transparent, there is absolutely no way the people would accept what was revealed.

So the question is not one of journalism, but of democracy.

Both Fine Gael and Labour came to power insisting that they would reform politics.

Great – they can start by opening up the most central part of politics – the government – to scrutiny, and living with the consequences.

Doing so would force another sea change in how things are done in departments, as would the mandatory taking of minutes and recording of discussions.

All this costs money, but so do ballot papers and polling booths. Chalk it down to the price of democracy.

And when they’ve taken away all the barriers and ensured that proper records are kept, they can make sure it’s free, fair and easily accessible to all.

Because freedom bound by constraints is enslavement by another name.

 

Sveriges största fotbollsnackis – men keep it under your hat…

Så här nära var Bojan att få baskern redan idag – men nej. Fotbolls-Sverige kräver att det sköts snyggare än så.

Presskonferens med Erik Hamren idag och jag var otroligt nära den scoopen som hela den svenska fotbollsmediakåren vill ha just nu.

Nämligen – hur och när kommer Bojan Djordjic att få Robert Lauls basker?

Har du varit uppe på ett berg och helt utan täckning så kanske du inte känner till det som hela fotbolls-Sverige har pratat om.

Robert tippade att Bojans Brommapojkarna skulle åka ur Allsvenskan direkt – han var så säker på sin sak att han slog ju vad om det genom att säga om BP klarade sig kvar utan att kvala – och om Bojan spelade fler matcher från start än ifjol – så skulle Robert ge honom sport-Sveriges mest välkända huvudbonad.

I söndags slog den in – men inte till Robbans fördel.

2-2 borta mot Halmstad räckte för att BP skulle klara sig utan att kvala.

Blixsnabbt började hashtaggen #skickabaskern trenda på Twitter.

Inte sedan Bojan vann SM-guld med AIK 2009 har han varit så glad på säsongens sista dag och plötsligt ville hela fotbolls-Sverige veta hur, när och var baskern skulle lämnas över.

Men sedan dess – tystnad.

Jag kan nu avslöja i bästa kvällstidnings-stil att förhandlingarna har pågått febrilt bakom kulisserna men bildbevisen finns här – Roberts älskade basker har än så länge inte lämnats över till Bojan.

Parterna har inte kunnat enas – så stor är den här frågan. Som bilden visar så var jag väldigt nära att lösa det själv idag genom att sno den och köra i hög fart hem till Bojan med bytet.

Men icke. Till skillnad från Friends Arena och 50 Cent-lurar ska det här lösas snyggt.

Jag vet hur mycket Robert älskar sin basker men han är en hederlig man – han har förlorat ett vad och han tänker lämna över den.

Bojan Djordjic är en god vän utanför fotbollen (vi är med i styrelsen för Kista Galaxy tillsammans) och en vinnarskalle rakt igenom – har han vunnit något vill han säkert få sitt pris.

Men jag hoppas att de kanske kan hitta en lösning där Robert kan behålla baskern samtidigt som Bojan blir tillfredsställd.

Det kan handla om något som ersätter baskern i vadet.

Det kan handla om att någon annan får frukten av Bojans sköna vinst.

Det kan helt enkelt handla om att Robban lämnar bara över den och därmed blir vi av med ett av fotbolls-Sveriges största och mest folkkära varumärken.

Men oavsett hur det slutar så är det viktigt för svenska fotbollens rykte att det görs på ett värdigt sätt.

Frågan är bara vem som är först ut med nyheten – Roberts Sportbladet eller Bojans Twitter-konto?

Du kan föreslå din egen lösning till ”Baskergate” på 140 tecken genom att använda hashtaggen #skickabaskern. Jag kommer att framföra de allra bästa till Bojans och Roberts representanter så att de kan tas med i förhandlingarna om hur svensk fotbolls största höstsnackis skall lösas. 

Prone to ignoring the ghosts

If we were really good friends, colleagues, we would be able to sit down with each other and talk out the miseries.

Maybe it’s the time of the year.

If you looked closely, the ghost flitted in the background, but not a word was said.

“Look happy, even when you’re not” – Terry Prone’s advice for a successful life.

The millions watching could see it, but not the two on the TV set.

Interviewer and author, they talked and they talked, about the book, and about life coaching and how to be happy, and it was darkly comical.

Seemingly unwittingly, they mentioned all the things that created the ghost – work, pressure, depression, suicide – but the ghost’s name was never mentioned.

Maybe they’d agreed beforehand that the book – with its ten case studies designed to help people help themselves – would be the subject of the interview.

The eleventh case study – the one that turned the ghost from a girl into a ghost – is not mentioned.

Nor is the ghost herself.

Because mentioning the ghost might detract from the book, so the ghost would not be mentioned.

Maybe they realized that any mention of the ghost would cause the façade to fall, that it would wash away the final vestiges of the illusion of credibility, that it would tear the cloak of respectability inherited from an emperor later found to be naked.

But as the interview went on, the ghost grew bigger and bigger, and by the time the author was dispensing her folksy snippets of wisdom it was screaming silently in the background.

Seemingly unhearing, blithely unaware once more of the ghost’s presence, the author pontificated about optimism, and about having an interest in other people, and being able to look happy even when you’re not.

The ghost laughed bitterly, but the show went on.

They talked about a golfer and his girlfriend and whether or not she was still his girlfriend, and the author wouldn’t say and nobody laughed.

By then, the time had passed. We had moved on to the golfer. The ghost would not be mentioned.

At least not on TV. But she will be here.

The ghost’s name is Kate Fitzgerald, and she died by suicide.

Her last anonymous testament was published by the Irish Times, and then hacked to pieces when it became known that she had worked for Terry Prone – the author – at the Communications Clinic.

The Irish Times issued a craven apology to the Communications Clinic – effectively calling the ghost a liar.

Her case provoked a debate about depression and work and pressure and suicide and journalism and censorship that faded away quickly as threats emanated from an IP address related to a prominent legal firm.

Terry Prone has never commented publicly on Kate Fitzgerald or the article in the Irish Times. Instead, she wrote a book telling the rest of us how to live.

No wonder the ghost laughs bitterly. The ghost doesn’t even need to read the book.