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.

The real shame would be to ignore wisdom of Norris

Ireland's next president?

That David Norris would be “got at” sooner or later was a foregone conclusion. He is almost too perfect a presidential candidate for modern Ireland.

He’s gay, educated and he has a very good chance of winning. And that would never do.

I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories, especially not those that attach themselves to Irish public life, where most people are too short-sighted and selfish to have any Machiavellian designs.

It’s more the case that Irish public discourse is susceptible to its very own form of chaos theory, where the butterfly beat of a Liveline producer’s wings causes a tsunami of indignation on Today with PK the next day.

But when the waves of indignation over Helen Lucy Burke’s badly-written Magill article once again abandon the strand we would do well to read the senator’s words carefully, for there is a golden nugget among them.

Somwhere on her water-damaged interview tapes, Norris is purported to have said “I think that the children in some instances are more damaged by the condemnation than by the actual experience” of paedophilia.

For that alone, he is worth your vote in a presidential election – of all the things he told her about sex that night in what seems to be the most bizarre of interviews, this is by far the most intelligent.

For where does the shame of the victim of paedophilia come from? What is it that they have done wrong? Trust an adult? Obey them? Expect protection?

For the most part, children instinctively know that abuse is wrong, but it is the sense of shame forced upon them that guarantees their silence and allows perpetrators to continue. This sense of shame is not of their own making.

It is foisted upon them by those who abuse – “if you tell, I’ll say it was your fault. You wanted it. You liked it. You enjoyed it. You teased me into it. Besides, no-one will believe you.”

It is foisted on them by society too, as if we believe that they should have fought back, resisted, refused.

It is a shame born of the anger and rage of helpless fathers and families, who wish they had seen or heard or done more and stopped it in its tracks.

It is a shame well-known to victims of adult rape too – male and female – and is a major part in why they don’t come forward. The physical scars may heal in time, but it is the mental ones – the shame foisted upon them by us – that are ever-lasting. Any woman who ever sat in a witness box will testify to that.

You don’t believe it? Look at the Ryan report. It was only when knowledge of the appalling behaviour of the “men of God” came into the public domain that the Catholic Church started to do something about the systemic abuse of children. True, it did too little, too late, but it was better late than never.

In turn, child abuse in everything from schools to sport to family homes shot up the agenda and a raft of legislation was passed to ensure it could never happen again. For many who turned to drugs or drink to deal with the shame of the abuse perpetrated on them, it was too late.

But for those brave people who came forward and said “this shame is not mine to bear alone”, we would still have no idea of the extent of the abuse that happened in Ireland, and it would have continued unabated. The church still continues to drag its heels in making restitution, and is rightly held in contempt for it.

A friend told me once of a female war correspondent who gave a talk to other journalists about her work. She was asked about the most difficult thing she faced in the field.

“I would say it was the first time I was raped in a war zone,” she answered.

“The first time?” asked the moderator of the discussion, incredulous.

“Yes, the first time,” answered this remarkable woman. “after that, you realise it’s not about you. It’s about them“.

The problem of the legacy of child abuse in Ireland will not be solved by Norris, Helen Lucy Burke, Joe Jackson, Joe Duffy or Pat Kenny.

The problem is that the discussion about it has for the most part been about who was to blame.

But for the healing to begin properly, for us to help repair all those lives knocked off their axis by the deeds of the church and others, it’s time for a different discussion- about who was not to blame.

The children.

And shame on those who – unlike Senator David Norris – say otherwise.