MORE to folly
From top George Gibney, Irvin Muchnick
You may recall two previous posts about former Irish swimming coach George Gibney.
One post detailed how Gibney – who was charged with 27 counts of indecency against young swimmers and of carnal knowledge of girls under the age of 15 in April, 1993 – sought and won a High Court judicial review in 1994 that quashed all the charges against him.
The judicial review was secured after a landmark Supreme Court decision, during which Gibney’s senior counsel Patrick Gageby argued that the delay in initiating the prosecution against Gibney infringed his right to a fair trial.
Mr Gageby’s sister Susan Denham was on the bench of the Supreme Court that day.
The second post was a timeline of events concerning Gibney, the allegations made against him and how he eventually went to live in America after the charges against him were dropped.
The timeline explained how American journalist Irvin Muchnick has been attempting to obtain the US Department of Homeland Security’s immigration file on Gibney – in an effort to understand how Gibney was able to get a visa and then a green card to live in the States, given the previous charges against him.
In July 2015, following his FOI request to the US authorities for the file, Mr Muchnick received just four pages of Gibney’s file.
On April 17, 2016, the Sunday Times, reported that further documents released to Mr Muchnick show that Gardaí gave Gibney a certificate of character – issued on January 20, 1992 – to support his application for an American visa.
The certificate given to Mr Muchnick was reported to be partially redacted with the name of the issuing officer and its contents obscured.
According to the Murphy Inquiry – which was set up to look at abuse in swimming in 1998 – a parent from a club other than Trojan Swimming Club, where Gibney coached, was told by an assistant coach of Trojan in November 1991 that the gardai and the ISPCC were informed of the allegations in relation to Gibney.
However, later the ISPCC said it had no record of any such complaint in 1991 or in 1992. And, the Murphy Inquiry states the first record on the Garda file is dated December 15, 1992.
Mr Muchnick is still trying to obtain Gibney’s full immigration file and, last Friday, he appeared before Judge Charles Breyer, a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, about the matter.
Mr Muchnik wants to know who assisted or sponsored Mr Gibney in successfully attaining a Green Card. More than 100 American swimming coaches have been jailed and/or banned for life from the sport in the past few years for offences against boys and girls.
Mr Muchnick reports:
At last Friday’s case management conference for Muchnick v. Department of Homeland Security, in his San Francisco federal courtroom, Judge Charles Breyer stated that he would review in camera 19 disputed documents from George Gibney’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services file, and render a decision. (In camera review, which our side had requested, means the judge will inspect the records privately in his chambers. The assistant U.S. attorney handed over to the court unredacted copies of the documents.) Judge Breyer did not say when he would rule.
More as we get it.
Previously: Unreasonable Delay
From top Red signed by The Angry Birds Movie director Fergal Reilly
Hungry for Angry Birds?
To celebrate ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ record May opening for an original animated film, hitting number 1 in the charts in 37 markets. We have teamed up with Sony Pictures and ODEON Cinema’s to give one lucky winner the chance to win cinema tickets for a family of 4 to any ODEON Cinema and FOURr, Red – The Angry Bird figurines signed by The Angry Birds Movie Irish director Fergal Reilly.
To enter, just complete this sentence
‘My favourite Irish film director currently making movies is……………. because…………’
Lines MUST close at MIDNIGHT
Bruuuuuuuce oil painting by Cathal Manning.
April 2016 figures show that there were 6,189 people in homeless services nationally, up from 5,983 in March (Net Monthly Increase 226).
— Peter McVerry Trust (@PMVTrust) May 23, 2016
Was it all for this? The image of the UK map includes a large landmass to the west which I’m pretty sure is it’s own independent country.
Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan and Superintendant Noel Cunningham at the Association of Garda Superintendents conference last month
Justine McCarthy, in The Sunday Times, writes
If the sergeant [Maurice McCabe] had been made wary by selective media leaks in advance of its publication, McCabe is also likely to have noted photographs of O’Sullivan attending the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents on April 20 – because standing beside her was Noel Cunningham, the superintendent who, along with a sergeant, met McCabe in 2008.
Last May, the commission was told that a written record of that meeting would provide evidence that McCabe admitted acting on a grudge when he made allegations against senior officers.
But when McCabe produced a secretly taped recording of the meeting, O’Higgins accepted he did not, as alleged by the commissioner’s side, confess he was motivated by malice in pursuing complaints.
…Cunningham was represented at the commission by the same team of lawyers as O’Sullivan.
Some of McCabe’s allegations were against him. The report dismissed those allegations and stated they had caused Cunningham “worry and stress”.
In her statement last week, O’Sullivan said:
“I have consistently and without exception, within An Garda Siochana and in public, stated clearly that dissent is not disloyalty, that we must listen to our people at every level with respect and with trust, and that we stand to gain, rather than lose, when members bring to our attention practices they believe to be unacceptable.”
…Her assurances failed to convince everyone, including five gardai who have turned whistleblowers. They include Keith Harrison, based in Donegal, and Nick Keogh, based in Athlone, who have made complaints about alleged misconduct. Both are currently on sick leave.
….In a recent email to a friend, Harrison wrote: “I’m seen as a traitor and a troublemaker. Nothing has changed and it won’t change. Maybe I would have been better off if I heard no evil and saw no evil. Many of my colleagues don’t speak out because of the fear of what might happen.”
Previously: The Wrong Side Of The Thin Blue Line
Last week, police in Illinois released a statement expressing their concern for singer Sinéad O’Connor as she had gone for a cycle and hadn’t returned within 24 hours. She was later found safe and well.
Further to this…
Ciaran Tierney writes:
When my best friend Joe died, I was an angry young man. We got drunk, we got stoned, we attended the Funeral . . . and then life just went on. The world kept turning and there was no such thing as counselling or grief recovery in the early 1990s.
It was nobody’s fault. Everyone around me was trying to cope with their grief in their own way and my little sister, Cliona, had passed away less than a year earlier. People shrugged and told me to get on with things.
As a young Irishman, I didn’t know how to talk about feelings . . . not without alcohol on board at any rate.
Of course, there was no Internet in those days. I didn’t rant on Facebook after returning home from the pub at 4am or put up photos on Instagram of my friends and I drinking ourselves into oblivion, which was the norm for most of my friends at the time.
We didn’t think there was anything unusual about our hard drinking, we were just wild, out for the craic, living all the Irish clichés. It probably took years for me to realise that there was a lot of pain hidden behind that heavy drinking.
For me, one of the constants at the time was the music of Sinead O’Connor. I came home from a summer in London to become enraptured by this gorgeous, provocative diminutive singer who seemed to speak out for my generation in a way nobody else dared to.
I was 20 and I hated Ireland. I wanted to be back in London, going to punk and metal gigs, following my beloved Liverpool FC around. I wanted the freedom of meeting women from Italy or Spain or England, who were far more liberated than I was.
Back home, I wondered how somebody from my generation could be so daring, so sexy, so sure of her own voice in late 1980s Ireland.
When she sang ‘I Want Your Hands On Me’, Sinéad was sexy in a way which seemed almost impossible for a young Irish person at the time. In those days we wore woolly jumpers as though we were ashamed of our own bodies.
In a country in which there was no contraception, no divorce, no abortion, this young woman from Dublin sang with a raw honesty which was simply incredible. Hell, there were still women living in Magdalene Laundries at the time.
Women who had committed the ‘crime’ of getting pregnant in Catholic Ireland were locked up barely a ten minute walk from my newspaper office, the sex abuse cases which rocked the Church had not yet been exposed, and hardly anybody questioned what was going on.
When Sinéad (she’s so familiar, we call her by her first name) combined with the brilliant Benjamin Zephaniah to sing a song about the crimes committed by the British Empire, I was immensely proud.
When she reached number one with ‘Nothing Compares To You’, it felt as though there were boundless possibilities for a young Irish person who spoke out or sang the truth. I wasn’t mad into pop songs, but there was such passion in her voice.
I grew up on metal and punk, outlets for my rage in a very repressive Catholic Ireland, and here was an amazing young woman from Dublin who was willing to take on the world.
When she tore up a photo of the Pope, I thought she was a little misguided but I was also immensely proud. Nobody, yes nobody, was that brave in Ireland at the time.
Sinead O’Connor’s music has been a constant in my life for more than half my life. I don’t claim to know her, although I did meet her once in Galway during the height of a summer Arts Festival. I was struck by how unassuming and shy she was that night, for someone who was a hero for so many of my generation on the Emerald Isle.
I thought about Sinead again this week, when a friend of mine alerted me to a troubling post on her Facebook page.
It was deeply personal and should never have appeared on a public social media site in the first place.
It shocked me when I did a Google search to find that quite a number of media outlets had shared the post in full, as though this very public meltdown by a ‘celebrity’ – or cry for help – deserved to become a form of entertainment.
No doubt the post, and the subsequent media reports, must have caused anguish to her close friends and family members as Sinead was clearly not in a good place when she wrote it.
I didn’t read it in detail and I most certainly didn’t want to read the comments underneath, but what shocked me was the fact that more than 1,000 people had taken the ‘trouble’ to ‘share’ it with their friends.
This was just two days after she had been reported missing by friends where she was staying, near Chicago. Thankfully, she was found safe and well.
Social media has transformed our lives in many ways, but have we become so dehumanised that we see entertainment value or ‘news’ in someone else’s anguish?
She might be a famous singer, but she is also a human being, facing the kind of troubles, challenges, and life-changing events we all have to face every day.
If she was clearly not in a good place on Tuesday night, where was the value in reading her deeply personal rant, aimed at some of the people closest to her, or sharing it on social media?
Or, worse, making jokes on Twitter about the whole sorry affair?
When Sinead went missing two days earlier, The Daily Telegraph felt that the ‘event’ merited a ‘live blog’.
It was clearly of no concern to the online editors that this in-depth coverage of such a vulnerable woman in distress might be deeply hurtful to Sinead and her family and friends.
Getting clicks on their website was clearly of far more importance than the well-being of a woman who was going through a tough time.
In 2016, a public figure’s meltdown can become a form of entertainment which would have been unthinkable back when my friend Joe died back in 1990.
Life was hard enough for me and my friends back then, without people making jokes on Facebook or posting insensitive remarks.
So … have we really moved on?
Ireland is going through a mental health crisis and the turn-out at this month’s Darkness Into Light walks (an estimated 120,000 across the country) showed that thousands upon thousands of people felt that the State is not doing a good enough job in this area.
Organisations like Pieta House and Console exist because our State health service is not addressing the crisis in mental health.
When I was in A&E with the MRSA ‘superbug’ last year, a young man who clearly had mental health problems was left languishing in a hospital corridor for hours.
He should have been in a state-of-the-art unit, not mixing with elderly people and accident victims lying on trolleys in an overcrowded corridor.
I wonder sometimes if the support available to a 20-year old whose best friend dies in 2016 is any better than it was in Ireland a quarter of a century ago.
I treasure Sinead as one of the most gifted songwriters of my, or any, generation. I firmly believe that people will still listen to the music of Sinéad and Shane MacGowan long after most of today’s artists are forgotten.
But her personal demons are none of my business. I’m not going to ‘share’ them on Facebook as some form of titillation for my friends. I’m certainly not going to make hurtful jokes about a troubled soul on Twitter.
I only hope she gets the help she needs.
That’s all that matters right now for Sinead, her family, and her friends.
The reaction on social media made me wonder whether we really have progressed from the witch trials and public hangings of the Middle Ages.
For all our technology, have we become so dehumanised that a public figure’s tragic meltdown is worthy of a click on a keyboard, or a Facebook share, on social media?
Do people even stop to think about the damage they cause when they post vicious or mocking posts about someone who is clearly going through a tough time?
It doesn’t seem that way. People post words on social media which they would never dare to utter to a person’s face.
We might be “connected” to each other 24/7 through our laptops, tablets, and smart phones, but in many ways we’ve become “disconnected” from our fellow human beings … We sit behind keyboards, poking fun at people who only need our help and good wishes as they struggle to make the most of this crazy, complicated life.
And, what’s worse, many of us don’t even think we are doing anything wrong.