Category Archives: RTE

Learning something new every day

Today’s gem:

Tornadoes occur across Ireland “on a widespread scale quite often” but it is “very rare when they touch the ground and nearly impossible to forecast”, [Siobhan Ryan of Met Eireann] told Today FM radio earlier.


That from the Irish Times, about bad weather and heavy rain across central Ireland, and — in particular — a “tornado” in County Galway, so:

some 150 homes were without electricity following high winds in Co Galway last night. The Clonfert and Banagher areas were worst affected, according to ESB Networks.

For what it’s worth, it has been tipping down in (old) York this evening.


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Filed under Ireland, Irish Times, RTE, weather

Trigger hacked-off: help from on high at hand?

“Trigger” Mulcaire may have scored Wimbledon’s first, ever, but more recently it’s been all own goals.

Let us then celebrate that the Supreme Court (it had to go that far!) has told him to cough on who was his News International puppet master.

Mulcaire received as much as £850,000 from the News of the Screws for his dutiful services, hacking upwards of 5,795 people (as of the November 2011 count). We may safely assume it wasn’t out of petty cash. The obvious name in the frame is Greg Miskiw, the News of the Screws Assistant Editor, That’s assistant to Andy Coulson. Now — conveniently  — Miskiw is a resident of Palm Beach, Florida.

A further reasonably assumption is this went all the way to the top, even beyond Miskiw, particularly because Max Clifford waived his claim for compensation after he met with Rebekah Brooks (but before Mulcaire’s conviction) and agreed a fee of a cool million for Clifford’s slimy future services.

The Orange card

Miskiw may have a 28-pounder shell, primed and ready, in his ammunition locker, because nobody, but nobody will be too keen on developing the Northern Irish dimension. Once again we are back to Stakeknife.

Miskiw was buddies with Alex Marunchuk, once the Screws crime reporter, then Irish editor. Marunchuk was a partner with Jonathan Rees in Pure Energy. Miskiw and Rees were partners in Abbeycover, which itself was an adjust of Southern Investigations, which takes us to ex-copper and child-pornographer Sid Fillery. The Rees-Marunchuk link takes us into trojan emails and computer hacking (and so to the police Operation Tuleta). Then there’s Operation Kalmyk, which is focused on Rees hacking Ian Hurst (a.k.a. Martin Ingram) — which is the Stakeknife connection.

As Malcolm was noting a year back, by that stage we are into the viscera of the beast, the notorious Force Research Unit, at Thiepval Barracks, in Lisburn.


No, no, a thousand times no. This is not paranoia.

The Smithwick Tribunal in Dublin is looking at the IRA murders of Chief Sup Harry Breen and Super Bob Buchanan of the RUC at Jonesborough in the South Armagh/County Louth border country, apparently returning from a covert meeting with the Irish security service in Dundalk. Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP MP, has alleged that the IRA were tipped off by Garda DS Owen Corrigan. Corrigan’s IRA “handler” is alleged to be the (equally alleged) double-agent Freddie “Stakeknife” Scappaticci. Scappaticci, along with the late John Joe Magee of Dundalk are (even more alleged) to have been the key members of the IRA “nutting squad”. One further “alleged” is that Scappaticci was second only to the OC IRA Northern Command, a certain Máirtín Mag Aonghusa, MP, MLA.

Ian Hurst, after extensive going-and-froing was induced to give evidence to Smithwick: that was redacted for public consumption. The RTÉ reports, especially that of 26th April, should be required reading.

And you thought it was all about Milly Dowler’s phone?

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Filed under crime, DUP, History, Ireland, Irish politics, Metropolitan Police, Murdoch, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, policing, politics, RTE, security, Sinn Fein

One disturbed princeling versus ten deaths?

Hold hard! Hold hard!

The other evening a royal and his current doxy got a mild shock. At the time they were surrounded by Glock-equipped outriders. Nobody hurt. Phew!

Still made every headline, though.

Now this:

The swine flu virus has claimed the lives of ten adults in the UK in the past six weeks.

Anyone get that?


Filed under Britain, censorship, equality, Ireland, RTE

The old problem (continued)

suffer the little children- to printAs so often, Malcolm felt that previous post was incomplete and inadequate.

He therefore found himself flicking through Diarmaid Ferriter’s  The Transformation of Ireland.

Chapter Five of Ferriter’s tome deals with the period from de Valera’s accession to power in 1932 until the end of the war-time Emergency. It includes (as each chapter-period does) a consummate account of the social developments. So here we find a useful section on the position of women in Ireland. This is particular salient in the light of article 41.2 of de Valera’s constitution of 1937:

In particular, the State recognises that by her life within the home, woman gives to the State a support without which the common good cannot be achieved.
The State shall, therefore, endeavour to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.

Ferriter then considers Ireland’s Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1935, the crucial legal ban on the sale and import of contraceptives:

the culmination of four years of debate following the Carrigan Report on sexual offences, which was never made public on the grounds that its sweeping statements relating to immorality in Irish life were too embarrassing, if not exaggerated. Statutes passed for England and Scotland in 1922 and 1928 and for Northern Ireland in 1923 meant the law concerning sexual offences against minors was more lenient in the 26 counties than the United Kingdom.

The absolute ban on contraceptives was enforced in the explicit awareness that it could lead to an increase in abortion and infanticide.

Ferriter adduces there is actual evidence to show the extent to which this occurred. In the years of the war-time Emergency (1940 – 1946), when travel out of Ireland was restricted, at least 46 cases of infanticide came before the Courts. Between 1925 and 1940 there had been fewer than twenty.

As with unemployment, Ireland’s problem was being exported.

Reproductive rights came to the fore in the 1970s.

First there was a 1974 Irish case, McGee v. The Attorney General, which established there were rights of marital privacy. Since, in the US, the right of privacy, established in 1965 by Griswold v. Connecticut, was a building-block for Roe v. Wade in 1973, alarm bells began ringing among the batty belfries of the Catholic conservatives. Then, in a curious twist, in 1978 Fiona Poole was a candidate for President of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO). She was known as a feminist, separated from her husband, and a supporter of family planning. She was elected, with considerable, and unusual, support coming from north of the Border. In effect, the Catholic and reactionary element in INTO and the northern progressives fed off each others’ prejudices.

Constitutional tinkering

All this led to a foetid Pro-Life campaign to amend the Irish Constitution, to ensure a perpetual ban on abortion:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

In 1983, this passed on a two-thirds majority. Informed consensus was the amendment was unnecessary, because it simply restated the existing law, the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861.

Secret histories

In February 1984 15-year-old Anne Lovett was found dying, in childbirth, in a grotto behind St Mary’s Catholic Church, Granard, in the County Longford.

Ferriter records how this caused Gay Byrne, for RTÉ , to be deluged with letters narrating gruesome and painful personal experiences. Fintan O’Toole, in A Mass for Jesse James: a Journey Through 1980’s Ireland, saw this as the moment when “hidden Ireland” came into the open, and Irish society became able to explore its darker corners:

a sort of secret history of modern Ireland emerged that day with stories of every decade since the 1940s, stories that had been told to no one, stories that had been bottled up and swallowed down.

Infanticide, again.

In April 1983 a murdered child was found, stabbed, on the foreshore at Cahirciveen. The Gardaí extracted a confession, which was later withdrawn: this led to the discovery of a second child’s body on the farm of the arrested girl. The baby on the beach had a different blood-group to the arrested girl, or this second baby, or the second baby’s admitted father. A public enquiry found the second baby was smothered, that the Gardaí had severely mishandled the case, but the baby on the beach remains unsolved.

The “X” case

In 1992, the girl “X” case rattled the cage that Ireland had built for itself with the pro-life Constitutional amendment of 1983.

“X” was a fourteen-year-old girl who became pregnant after alleged rape. Both the girl and her parents wished to seek an abortion outside Ireland. Someone had the bright idea that foetal tissue might determine paternity. The Gardaí took this to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who bounced the question up to the Attorney General. An injunction was obtained to restrain the girl from leaturner-xving Ireland or from arranging or carrying out a termination.

The cartoonist, Martyn Turner, produced a mordant comment for the Irish Times (left).

So it dropped into the lap of the Supreme Court.

A majority of the Justices seized on the girl’s threat to commit suicide, if she were compelled to carry her child to full term. On the basis that there was a health risk to the expectant child-mother, the injunction was lifted.

Relief almost all round.

That left a number of loose ends:

  • Did the right to life take precedence over the right to travel?
  • Did the 1983 Amendment fully admit the mother’s life could take priority over the life of the foetus?
  • Could a threat of suicide suffice as ground for termination?

So there was a re-run of the Abortion Referendum. This time the Irish people declared:

  • they rejected a proposal that the threat of suicide was insufficient grounds for a termination;
  • they accepted the right to travel;
  • they accepted that information about abortion services in other jurisdictions could be lawfully published.

A breath of sanity.

The Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, now had to be rewritten to incorporate the Supreme Court rulings. A final irony in this sad business was that the Pro-lifers, contrary to their intention, had brought about a marginally-more-liberal regime.

“X” re-run

Then came the “C” case.

A 13-year-old, then in care, was pregnant through rape. Application was made for her to leave the country to seek an abortion. The child’s father became a mouth-piece for the anti-abortionists, and sought to prevent this. The 1992 Amendment was again shown to be inadequate.

In March  2002, by just 0.8%, a further amendment, to permit abortion where pregnancy threatens the mother’s health, though ruling out the suicide clause, was rejected by the Irish electorate.

Safe and Legal?

In 2oo5 a new campaigning organisation was established: the Safe and Legal in Ireland Abortion Rights Campaign. The campaign notes that:

  • 123,258 women are known to have travelled from Ireland to the UK for abortions between January 1980 and December 2005;
  • In 2005 alone, that was 5,585 women travelling for a UK termination. Most are in their 20s.
  • Those numbers undercount: the IFPA see an increasing number of women who have had abortions in the Euro-zone seeking counselling and services.

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Filed under civil rights, Ireland, Irish politics, Irish Times, policing, prejudice, RTE

Doublin yer mumper

Just when we all thought the thing was done and dusted, a cloud no bigger than the High Court’s hand…

It seems that the hot money is on the Ahern Government continuing with the rump of two Progressive Democrats brought on board by offering Seanad seats to departed brethren. That makes 80 seats. The Independents, who never like short Dails, will tend to support a Fianna Fáil government anyway. Two of those Independents are former FF members: Jackie Healey Rae in Kerry South, and Beverley Flynn of Mayo. Ahern and FF are thus one further seat short of a bare majority. The two Dublin Independents, Finian McGrath in North Central and Tony Gregory in Central, are both making frantic signals that they wish to snuggle up to FF. FF can ease the wheels of democracy further by having a Ceann Comhairle from FG or (more likely?) Labour. So that’s fixed.

Except …

There’s a story in today’s Sunday Tribune that might disturb this arithmetic:

[Beverley] Flynn sued RTÉ over broadcasts in 1998 reporting that she had assisted tax evasion by setting up bogus non-resident accounts while working for National Irish Bank. She lost the High Court case in 2001 and costs estimated at 1.5m were awarded against her.

According to court documents filed by RTÉ last week, she owes the station 2.84m in taxed costs, including interest, for the longest-running libel case in Irish legal history.

And RTÉ are now filing to have her declared bankrupt. An undischarged bankrupt is not eligible to be a TD.

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Filed under Beverley Flynn, Fianna Fail, Irish politics, RTE

Anyone with access to RTÉ1 should be looking for this:

Ireland’s Nazis

In this two-part series, veteran broadcaster Cathal O’Shannon sets out on a journey across three continents to uncover the true story of Ireland’s Nazis.

That’s tonight, Tuesday 9th January.

A taster for the programme was Nicola Tallant’s piece in the (Irish edition) of the Sunday Times: De Valera helped Nazi war criminal. The subjects in question will apparently be:

  • Célestin Lainé, leader of a Waffen SS unit, the Bezen Perrot, who adopted the usual methods for suppressing occupied Brittany.
  • Andrija Artukovic, who, as the Nazi gauleiter for Croatia, did for as many as a million in death camps. O’Shannon maintains the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs refuse to release their file on “Alois Annick” (the alias Artukovik adopted to live in south Dublin during 1947-8, before emigrating to California). The subtext here is whether the Vatican had any input.
  • Pieter Menten, a Dutchman war-criminal (and, some claim, art-thief) who had a nice mansion in the County Waterford.

Malcolm assumes that O’Shannon is more than just a namesake of the Ulster IRB-man and Connolly-associate (1889-1969) who was interned in 1916-7, re-arrested and went in hunger strike, sacked from the Irish Socialist Party for opposing the link with the Third International, who served briefly as a Labour minister in the Second Dáil, and had an active lifetime achievement in trade unionism and journalism.

Malcolm has already drawn attention to the — ahem! — ambiguous attitude of De Valera to fascist and totalitarian régimes (as on last 29th August, in regard to Brian Girvin’s book on The Emergency).

He also notes that there was quite a contingent of “good” Germans in Ireland after the War. There were, notably, the Bielenbergs farming in the County Carlow. At least one former German Minister was residing in Blackrock, and travelling for the German War Graves commission. West Cork seemed already to have attracted a small contingent (or were they all, as they seemed to maintain, Dutch and Afrikaaner?). All in all, it is hardly surprising that a few less desirables snuck in (or, perhaps, as O’Shannon seems to propose, even were infiltrated by “sympathetic” international spookery).


Filed under De Valera, Ireland, RTE