Sunday, November 19, 2017

Buses with USB ports

The USB port on Dublin Bus vehicles certainly can prove the old adage - 'a stitch in time saves nine'.

A fine addition to the Dublin Bus fleet.

It is currently on the 172-D-XXXX SG fleet.

Has the company any plans to retrofit older buses?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The time for another reformation is long overdue

Chris Fitzpatrick, a former Master at the Coombe writes in 'The Irish Times'.

The page-article is a forthright account of why the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist lost his faith in Catholicism.

The piece is on page six in the 'Weekend Review'.

A quote from the article: Male hegemony is not some God-given right; I have never seen it written on any tablets of stone.

The title of the piece is: 'The priest who shattered my faith'.

Obligatory reading in every seminary and studentate. But guess what, it will not get a mention. Indeed recommended reading for every priest in the country.

Congrats Cardinal Cupich

I don't think people are scandalised by the Pope. I think they're being told to be scandalised.

Cardinal Blase Cupich speaking in a public conversation at the University of Chicago last week.

Perfect. So apposite.

Thomas Crean, a member of the English Dominican province, one of the signatories of the letter of 'filial correction', gave a talk in the Dominican Priory, St Saviour's, Dublin earlier this month.

Surely someone, who has publicly opposed the Pope in such a manner, giving a public talk in a Dominican priory, is embarrassing to the Master of the Dominican Order, and indeed to the Archbishop of Dublin.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Poland last Saturday

Stopping the advance of the far right.

Something weird about protecting adults from ideas

Francis Hunt commented on the Legionaries of Christ post, which appeared on this blog on Sunday November  12.

His comment is attached to the relevant blogpost.

It is appearing here also. It certainly is worth a read. 

Thank you Francis.

I find the very concept of "bad influence" very strange. "Formation" in the sense used for preparation for the religious life or the priesthood is something for adults. 

There's something weird about the idea that you have to protect adults from ideas, or models of thinking or life, which are different from those you are propagating. It seems more like a kind of fixation on control. 

Surely if you are convinced of your vision, you don't need to be afraid of exposure to alternatives. Or even, perhaps, learning something new, which would help those in formation to grow and develop themselves ... 

The Blasket Islands

On this day, November 17, 1953, the last people living on the Blasket Islands in Co Kerry left for the mainland.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trump in Putin's web

The 'Long Read' in yesterday's Guardian is simply sensational.

If this be true then the President of the United States of America is in the hands of The Russian Federation.

The performance that Mr Trump gave yesterday from the White House was embarrassing. It was 'cringe' material.

And the result to yeseterday's question: a, 55 per cent; b, 38 per cent; c, seven per cent.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Football analysts

Really, can Eamon Dunphy lose?

Had Ireland won last evening Eamon would be talking this morning about the resilience, hard work, determination, the warrior quality of the Irish team.

Ireland lost so Eamon can talk about the shambolic tactics and skill of the manager.

It's a no-lose and well paid job.

But maybe that's the way of the world - about everything.

Communication skills

The HSE in conjunction with the National Cancer Control Programme is currently rolling out an education module for staff on 'Enhancing Communication Skills in Cancer Care'.

It is about 'Delivering Bad News'. 

There is an accompanying booklet with the module.

Among the questions participants are asked is the following: In communicating with a patient, what impact would you give to a, Physical; b, Tone of Voice; c, Words? The total is 100 per cent.

For anyone who is involved with people at any level this is an invaluable exercie.

The answer will be given in tomorrow's blogpost.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Surely the NBRU can do a better job than this leaflet

This week's Independent News & Media Irish Regionals newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
It's a relief that the rail stoppages have been suspended.

I can remember when Tom Darby set up the National Busmen’s Union in 1963, which later expanded to include rail workers and is now the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU).

Over the years I have got to know a number of locomotive driver.

There is a long and proud history in Ireland of the men, and now women, who drive our trains. In the days of steam they did tough and dirty jobs. Train drivers work hard. Today their jobs are cleaner and the conditions have much improved.Maybe because I’m a bit of a rail anorak, I’m inclined to think that there is a nobility about a locomotive driver.

Sometimes the wars that are waged between the drivers’ unions and the company give the impression that HR is not Irish Rail’s strongest quality. As an outsider looking in, one can’t help but guess that there is far too much ‘them versus us’ at Irish Rail.

On Monday, November 6 on a return service from Connolly to Dunboyne I found myself losing some of my sympathy for the NBRU.

Lying on a seat was an eight-page leaflet, titled: ‘Another 24 Hours of Rail Strikes'. It is an attempt by the NBRU to explain their case to the travelling public.

It’s in the format of a dialogue between an Irish Rail worker and his neighbour. The conversation takes place in their local pub. It is fictional.

Eight pages of the most annoying and boring writing I have had the misfortune to read.

When a railway union cannot spell the plural form of ‘train’ correctly, then I’m wondering who these people really are.

This is a direct copy of a sentence on page seven: “Customer service Staff on train’s, Attendence programme, Vehicle management system (Irish Rail has big fleet of cars/vans), etc.”  

What on earth does that mean? Note how they spell ‘attendance’.

The leaflet spells ‘pantomime’ as ‘Pantomine’ and for some reason beyond me they spell it with a capital ‘P’. Right through the leaflet they seem to have a penchant for capital letters for the first letter of common nouns.

That a trade union would spell the person who presides over court proceedings ‘Judge’ rather than the correct way, ‘judge’, must be a Freudian slip?

The NBRU think the world population is six billion. It’s over seven billion.Almost on every paragraph there are grammatical and or syntactical errors.

In this eight-page leaflet one is subjected to read the words: ‘pissed’, ‘Christ’, ‘feck’.

I take great exception at the use of such profanities and vulgarities.

Is it, that the author thinks that he or she has some sort of literary talent that allows she/he to write in such a style? Make no mistake about it, this is not written by the pen of a Joyce, a Beckett or a Doyle.

It tries to explain why the unions are in dispute with Irish Rail. It could not be less effective and confusing. It is convoluted and almost impossible to follow in any sort of coherent fashion. It’s silly too.

For a while I thought it might be a clever Machiavellian trick by Irish Rail and they had written it to paint the NBRU in a bad light.

If the NBRU’s negotiating skills are anything like this document, then is it any wonder we have had rail stoppages?

It demeans every train driver in the country.

But I’m still a friend of locomotive drivers.
Maybe the next time, NBRU management decide to publish a leaflet, they should ask a locomotive driver to do the writing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

German newspaper that gets its hands on Paradise Papers

Interesting article in The New Yorker about the work of journalists at Süddeutsche Zeitung in obtaining the 'Paradise Papers'

United States gun violence

Approximately 33,000 people were killed in the US last year as a result of gun violence, with more than half of them resulting from people taking their own lives.

A mass killing, which means four or more people are killed, takes place on average nine out of every 10 days in the United States of America.

US citizens account for less than five per cent of the world's population, nevertheless, more than 31 per cent of the perpetrators of mass shootings are Americans.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Behaviour of Legionaries

An informative piece in The Irish Times yesterday about the Legionaries of Christ and their stacked away cash in 'Paradise'.

When I was in Rome in the mid-1970s students of the Legionaries of Christ were not allowed talk to me as I was considered  a 'bad influence'. Back then it was clear there was something profoundly wrong with the organisation. Their pretense at holiness was astonishing, funny too.

That bizarre piety behaviour is most times a con-job.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wisdom is bright, does not grow dim and is readily seen

The 'Thinking Anew' column in The Irish Times today.

Michael Commane
Anyone who saw the RTE Investigates exposé on overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary lettings last Thursday week has to be appalled at how anyone could treat people in such a manner.

Yes, we see wrongdoing, crime, sheer evil on our television screens, in newspapers, on social media every day of the week. It's usually in far-off places but when it's happening in suburbs of our capital city it makes it ever so real and tangible.

The day before the RTE programme, in far away Washington DC, US President Donald Trump called Sayfullo Saipov, the alleged perpetrator of the Manhattan terrorist attack an 'animal'.

He was speaking at the beginning of a cabinet meeting of which the first 18 minutes was open to the media. For the majority of the 18 minutes the President of the most powerful democratic country in the world spewed out nasty and venomous words.  He was surrounded by powerful and influential people, the overwhelming majority of them men. They all sat there and not a single word of objection from anyone. Maybe not even a telltale sign of discomfiture. The clip is available on Twitter. It was a shocking show of vulgarity.

Where are we, what have we done? What has brought us to this?

Last Saturday I witnessed an altercation between a pedestrian and the driver of a van at the junction of Nicholas Street and High Street in Dublin's south inner city. The pedestrian felt aggrieved even though he did walk out in front of the van. All the usual signs of anger; shouting, vulgar gestures and that belief and conviction that 'I'm right and you're wrong'. The lights changed, the warring parties separated and it was all over. Or was it? Those sort of interactions can't help our psyche. Surely they stay with us and indeed play a part in making and shaping who we are.
Social media relentlessly spews out nasty and vile tales about people. And the nastiest of all are done under the cover of anonymity.

Has it always been as bad as this or have we just become aware of it because of the powers of communication?

The Bible might be the top-selling book on the planet. It's read every day in places of worship around the world. Scripture scholars have an intimate and professional understanding of it but for most people it can be very much a hit and miss experience. We can easily use the occasional and apposite quote to justify our plan of action.

The first reading tomorrow is from the Book of Wisdom (6: 12 -16) or alternatively called the Wisdom of Solomon. It was written approximately 50 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.

We read that "wisdom is bright, and does not grow dim. By those who love her she is readily seen, and found by those who look for her."

The Jerusalem Bible tells us that the wisdom of mankind is set in perspective with the wisdom of God. All wisdom comes from God since she/he alone is wise.

Those lines from TS Eliot make sense:"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?/Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

Indeed, wisdom may well be elusive; how do you define the wise woman or man? And yet when we see and experience it, it is a delight to behold.

Our world, our streets, our people need a touch of wisdom right now. Sometimes reading the Word of God in that great book we call the Bible we might well be inspired to be people of wisdom, people of grace, who look out for one another and in doing so behave in a kind, gentle and wise way.

In tomorrow's Gospel (Matthew 25: 1 - 13)we read about the 10 bridesmaids, five of whom are wise and five foolish. At the end of the day the five wise bridesmaids find success and happiness.
When we make an effort to do what is wise and right, when our goal is to do good to other people, surely we are on the road to God, who is wisdom.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Electric cars

The Irish State owns and runs 6,474 vehicles.

Of these five are electric.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

UK's driverless government

The piece below appears in today's Guardian.

It is the first three paragraphs in an article by Suzanne Moore.

Fabulous writing and so much said in three paragraphs and said in such style. Brilliant really. Incisive  too.

As someone who once got a driving licence when they really shouldn’t have, I am looking forward to driverless cars. It’s a shame a lot of people will lose their livelihoods, but, hey ho, that’s the future. In fact, it feels a lot like the present. We currently have a driverless government. No one is in control – but nor is there a robotic system effective enough to govern us.
It is not just that the waxwork of Theresa May unveiled in Madame Tussaudslooks more strong and stable – indeed, more human – than she does; it is that her government is full of braggarts, sexual harassers and people who have decided to conduct freelance foreign policies.
As ever with May, it is hard to ascertain why she wants to cling on. Her leadership is now little more than a penance to her party for not being good enough to secure a decent majority. She is surrounded by those for whom cooperation is some kind of socialist conspiracy and loyalty is for wimps. Many of her ministers wear their ignorance with pride, feeling that they can make policy in a ridiculously atomised way. They appear to have no clue how the rest of the world sees them – largely irrelevant – nor any clue of how the world is changing. In their myopic pomp, they seem not to have noticed that the US is in decline and still yearn for Reaganite certainties. This is bizarre.

Fall of the Berlin Wall

On this day, November 9, 1989 shortly before 19.00 the secretary of the Central Committee of the SED (Socialist Unity Party of Germany) Gunter Schabowski announced at the end of a long and boring press conference new regulations for GDR citizens travelling to West Berlin and West Germany.

Having read a document and then after a few moments hesitation he said the new regulations came into effect 'immediately'.

When the evening ARD News at 20.00 ran a headline 'GDR opens the border', East Berliners headed towards border crossings in the city.

Because of the large crowds that stormed the crossing at Bornholmer Street, border guards eventually lifted the barrier at 21.20.

The Berlin Wall had been breached.

That happened 28 years ago today.

On another November 9 this time 1938, the Nazis smashed the windows of Jewish-owned shops and businesses, and synagogues.

The pogrom against the Jews is known as Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass.

This is one of a number of reasons that Germany did not choose November 8 as a national holiday commemorating the unification of Germany.

That date is celebrated on October 3, which marks the day in 1990 when the two German States were united. On that day Germany also officially recognised its eastern borders.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Paradise Papers

This is a piece about the Paradise Papers in yesterday's Guardian by Philip Goff, who is associate professor in philosophy at the Central European University in Budapest.

The rallying cry for Brexit was to “take back control”. In fact, it is not the EU that is sapping our self-determination, but the wealthy individuals and transnational corporations that hold countries to ransom through the mechanism of tax competition.

Bono has good intentions. But what he can’t see is that our current economic system is not working either for the developing world or for ordinary people in the developed world. If we want to help the developing world, we need to oppose that system – not encourage it.

Last evening I was in a flat in Rathgar. Minuscule in size, a dump. The monthly rent is €1,200, with  the majority of that money coming from State funds.

Wonder is the landowner's name mentioned in the Paradise Papers? In which case he/she is defrauding the State on the double.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Wittenberg's 95 Theses

This week's Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Tuesday, October 31 was the 500th anniversary of the publication of Martin Luther's 95 Theses in Wittenberg.

I was a university chaplain in West Berlin before the Wall came down.

Back then it was not possible to jump on a train and travel to Wittenberg, as Wittenberg was in the territory of the German Democratic Republic.

Years later, in a united Germany I was back living in the city for a few weeks. I'm a rail anorak so I notice things to do with the railways. One day I was travelling on a train out of Berlin and spotted that its terminus was Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The birthplace of Protestantism.

And that's the official name of the city, though everyone calls it Wittenberg.

I’m not a historian nor an expert on Martin Luther but all of what I have read recently tells me that this great German did not start out to divide the church.

As ‘The Irish Times’ commented in an editorial in recent days: “With the bitterness that accrued from divisions in Christianity almost completely dissipated, it seems likely that the churches will see more value in working together to promote spiritual values and social solidarity in societies which have become more materialistic and narcissistic.'

In last Sunday’s Gospel reading in both Catholic and Anglican churches we read: 'Do to others as you would have them do to you'.

Human beings are social animals who live in community.

Could there be Christianity on an island inhabited by one single person? I think not.

Christianity is all about community, all about communion. People living in communion with one another and with God. The two great commandments - loving God and loving our neighbour.

It's a great idea. Indeed, in the world in which we live, which seems to be splintering and breaking, a world that appears to have a voracious appetite to hate and despise, there is a crying need for the message of Jesus Christ - to love God and our neighbour - the two great commandments.

And look at us Christians. Is it not an oxymoron to talk about different Christian denominations. To make it even more nonsensical, the theological language that divided us has so little meaning in the vocabulary of today's world.

Has it all more to do with power and control and the scars of history than anything to do with Grace, Scripture, Sacraments, God? I'm inclined to think so and say yes.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor attended a commemoration service in Wittenberg on October 31 to mark the 500th anniversary. 

She said :“Whoever values diversity has to practise tolerance, that is the historical experience of our continent,” she said. “Tolerance is the soul of Europe.”

Some weeks ago in a Dublin parish there was a prayer service to mark issues concerning the environment. It was great to see people from different Christian communities and the Jewish faith worshipping together. Uplifting and prayerful too. We need more of that.

Every time I saw those German trains heading for Lutherstadt Wittenberg I wondered why in heaven's name are we so divided. I can't get that line of the Gospel out of my head: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’. 

It’s interesting that Wittneberg is not far from Torgau on the great river Elbe where a Soviet soldier and an American GI shook hands on April 25, 1945. It was in Torgau where the two armies met. 

Some days later Nazi Germany collapsed. And it happened by people working together, working in communion with one another.

Marie Skłodowska Curie

On November 7, 1867 Marie Skłodowska was born in Warsaw, then in the Russian Empire.

She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the only woman to have won it twice. She won it in physics and chemistry.

She is famous for the development of the theory of radioactivity.

Marie Curie died in Paris on July 4, 1934.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Church leaders complicit

From the National Catholic reporter.

Accurate too.

Silence on sexual violence makes church leaders complicit, say victim advocates
by Heidi Schlumpf
Reports of sexual harassment by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have prompted more victims of sexual violence to go public. 

Yet Catholic Church leaders have been conspicuously quiet on the issue. This silence -- combined with teachings and systems that contribute to a culture in which sexual violence against women is rampant -- makes the church complicit, say theologians and those who work with victims. 

And given the church's own lack of accountability in response to clergy sexual abuse, its credibility on the issue is already damaged.

Easy to spot Deputy Ross

Government minister and Independent TD Shane Ross is currently distributing political information in his constituency.

Irrespective of 'No junk mail' stickers on doors, the leaflets are still posted.

The current information consists of two flyers. One is made up of two A4 sheets. It includes 26 photos of Mr Ross.

The other flyer, much smaller in size (210 X 97mm), has just two photos of the TD.

All Saints in Zion Road

A word of thanks and appreciation to the Church of Ireland community in Zion Road, in Dublin's Rathgar, who invited me to attend and preach at thier Holy Communion service yesterday, which was All Saints' Sunday.

It was also the 156th anniversary of the consecration of the church, which took place in 1861.

A lovely experience, and I received a warm and friendly welcome, even invited back.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

RTE Radio 1 mentions 'Weinsteining' column

RTE Radio 1's 'Drivetime' carried in its regional newspaper roundup on Friday part of the 'Weinsteining is everywhere' column that appears on Tuesday's entry on this blog, which was in turn in INM Irish regional newspapers last week.

Editor of the Connacht Tribune, Dave O'Connell tells the story.

It is approximately 20 minutes into the programme, which is available on the link below.

If you can't open the link below you can open it on the comment on this post.

Archbishop Welby and his wife lunch with Pope Francis

Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife had lunch in late October with Pope Francis in the Vatican.

After it he said: It was amusing, full of humour, full of profound discussion.

Later speaking about his friendship with Pope Francis he said:  It is one of those moments where I think the grace of God is greater than I ever imagined.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Williams on the Reformation

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said about the Reformation:

"I'd like to think that it might have been possible for a pope of a different colouring to say: the man's got a point, let's see what can be changed."

Friday, November 3, 2017

Trump's cabinet rant

On Wednesday President Trump's Twitter account included an 18-minute video of the beginning of a cabinet meeting, at which the press was present.

It is worth watching. It is 18 minutes of vulgarity, nastiness, a man talking nonsense.

At one stage he calls the man who has been arrested for the terrorist attack in New York as an 'animal'. He has been found guilty before a court of law hands down a judgement.

How many times in every sentence does President Trump use the word 'very'.

It was simply a harangue. Embarrassing too.

But it was intersting to watch a roomful of people, the majority of whom were men, listening to this rant. Why would no one stand up and say 'stop this nonsense'?

That's how power works. That's so often how the management class behaves.

Fifteenth anniversary of death of John O'Gorman

Today is the 15th anniversary of the death of John O'Gorman.

Below is an appreciation of John, which appeared in The Irish Times in 2002.

JOHN James O’Gorman was born in Blarney Street, Cork in 1945 and attended the North Monastery Christian Brothers School. He was one of their brilliant young men, obtaining a scholarship to UCC. But instead of going on to university he joined the Dominican Order in September 1962. He was professed the following year and ordained a priest in 1969.

John O’Gorman stood out as a shining light. Most of all he was a man of absolute integrity, but he was also endowed with brilliant intelligence. After priestly ordination he studied postgraduate theology in Rome and remained at the Irish Dominican community in San Clemente as bursar.

He spoke Italian like a Roman – or so said his neighbours on the Via Labicana. But he was not happy with Rome and the Roman scene. His first love was always science and mathematics. He began postgraduate work in maths while still in Rome. Father J.M. Heuston, a brother of John Heuston of 1916 fame, himself a fine mathematician, admitted that he had never before met someone with such mathematical talent. John came home to Ireland in 1976, moved to the Dominican Community at Newbridge and did his H.Dip at Maynooth. Without any formal degree in mathematics, he blazed a trail of brilliance through Newbridge College. Students seeming destined to produce average turned in spectacular performances.

By the time of his last year at the school, there were two streams in sixth year doing Higher Level Maths in the Leaving Cert. But John was also there for the not-so-clever. Anyone who sat at his feet in Newbridge will remember him as a brilliant and fair teacher. John was endowed with both a practical and speculative intelligence.

In the early 1980s he began to develop an interest in Computer Science and did a Ph.D, in computing at the University of Limerick. This led to a career in lecturing at the college, a job he greatly loved. He is the author of two books on computing and was in the process of publishing a third.

He was meticulous in everything he did. While mathematics and teaching were his first love there were other sides to this faithful son of St Dominick. He walked every by-road of Ireland, climbed to the top of every mountain and had a knowledge of roads, rivers and mountains that was simply breathtaking.

John also took his theology seriously, had a profound knowledge of the Bible, and was familiar with modern theological thinking. But he was never at home with his priesthood. In the mid-1980s he requested permission to resign from priesthood while remaining a Dominican. The Order granted his request.

Most of all John was a dear friend, someone who was always there to give the best of advice and help. He had absolutely no time for show or pretension and lived the simplest of lives. He never lost his Blarney Street accent. He carried his intelligence easily and never used it as a tool to lord it over anyone.

Above all, any signs of obfuscation annoyed him intensely. He had little time for people in authority who attempted to take short-cuts and he had no mercy for Dominican superiors whom he felt were not living up to their responsibility. He was a member of the provincial council of the Irish Dominicans and took his responsibility very seriously.

He was a true democrat, moulded by the constitutions of the Order, so when he felt superiors or communities were lack-lustre living out their calling to St Dominic, he had no hesitation in letting people know his views. He was in some ways a private man but was always there for his friends and he would go to any distance to help and support.

John was a physically fit man who could walk up to 20 miles a day. He took good care of himself. Yet he died in his room in the Dominican Community in Limerick on the evening of Sunday, November 3rd of a massive heart attack.

He is survived by his brother Andrew, sister-in-law Emer, niece Fiona, nephews Rory and Mark, and his Dominican brothers. I have lost a dear friend. May he rest in peace.
Michael Commane

Thursday, November 2, 2017

'The Tablet's' top Catholics

THE TABLET ISSUE of October 28 ran a story titled 'The Tablet 100 - Britain's leading lay Catholics in 2017'.

The seven-page spread lists the 'top Catholics' in England.

It was an odious exercise, something disdainful about it.

The first person on the list is Damian Green, First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office.

On Tuesday his name appeared on the list of parliamentarians who are accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Weinsteining is everywhere

Independent News & Media Irish regional newspapers' column of Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Michael Commane
Tom Hanks has been talking about his book, 'Uncommon Type'.

During an interview on BBC Television when asked about Harvey Weinstein he said that it was such a sensational story that in the years ahead there would be a verb 'to weinstein and a noun too, 'the weinstein'

When I mentioned to a friend I was going to write a column on 'weinsteining' and bullying she said: "Bullying occurs everywhere.  In marriage especially; parents, children. Reins are kept on money, sex, etc. As for the church, don't get me started. It happens to the elderly, in banks, nursing homes, everywhere."

The women who have spoken about Weinstein deserve great praise.

People have spoken about how he sexually molested and bullied them, how he conveyed an aura about him that seemed to make him special, as if he were some sort of genius. His demeanour screamed ‘how dare anyone challenge or say boo to me’. He felt he was omnipotent. He had power. It's that aura thing that is intriguing.

When I was a young priest attending University College Cork I experienced first-hand how bullying seems to be linked with this phoney aura. And somewhere in that mix too you could add devious sexual behaviour.

On one occasion, I was with a group of novices, who were discussing what it was like to live in religious community. There was an older man present. He had spent most of his priesthood in positions of authority in the Order. He was arguing that religious life was similar to a family. I disagreed with him and said so in a forthright manner.

The following day he arrived at my room, screaming and roaring at me. It happened between 1976 and 1979. I can still see the rage and anger in his face. 

He warned me that unless I apologised to him he would have me removed from the house where I was living immediately. I was scared and to my great shame I apologised.

Over the years I observed this man, who is now dead. It's said you should never speak ill of the dead. Why not?

I discovered things about him, things that are nasty and vile. But it all fitted perfectly with my experience of him that morning.

He had an aura about him. He gave the impression of being superior, cultivated, gentle, knowledgeable. He was ever so suave. He may well have been knowledgeable, but he certainly was not superior nor cultivated. Nor was he gentle. He was a brute, a brute like Weinstein.

And as with Weinstein there were always rumours about him but nobody ever enunciated words which made it clear that he was not a nice person.

Every time I hear people talk about Weinstein I'm reminded of this man. I get angry with myself that I did not challenge him that morning, that I did not tell him to take a hike. There would have been no point in reporting him because he had all the power stacked in his hands. No one would have believed me. 

In the intervening years I never said anything to him. He intimidated me. I am ready now to scream it from the rooftops, his name too, but the damage has been done.

When people question why no one stood up to Harvey Weinstein earlier, I know exactly why they didn't. And so too do all those innocent victims who have been bullied and terrorised by the Weinsteins of this world. And there are many of them and they are everywhere.

Tom Hanks is right, it’s a verb okay – to weinstein.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Thatcher is icon for AfD

Alice Weidel, a leader of Germany’s far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, has said the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is her political role model, saying Thatcher got Britain back on its feet when it was facing economic ruin.

Weidel told  Bild am Sonntag that her party, which won seats in the Bundestag for the first time after capturing nearly 13 per cent of the vote, aimed to be ready to join a coalition government by 2021.