Category Archives: News

news as it is happening-ish

BlbEL3_CMAEuuoh.jpg large


Alan writes:

“Why are the authorities arresting sex workers in this day and age?
Is the moral fabric of the nation at stake?
Genuine question.”


Previously: Turn Off The Red White And Blue Light

Stopping At Red


Yesterday, Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald published the Children First Bill which will make it mandatory for professionals, including priests, to report situations where they believe children are at risk.

Further to this, retired parish priest Fr Gearoid O Donnchu spoke to Chris O’Donoghue on Newstalk and explained why he won’t break the seal of confession under any circumstance.

Mr O’Donoghue started by asking Fr O Donnchu how long he had been a priest.

Gearoid O Donnchu: “Since 1957, so 57 years.”

Chris O’Donoghue: “So I’m guessing in that time you’ve heard thousands of confessions.”

O Donnchu: “I’d say so yes, at least. Many thousands.”

O’Donoghue: “Father, in those confessions have people ever confessed a crime to you?”

O Donnchu: “That’s not a question I can answer.”

O’Donoghue: “Ok. The reason I was asking about that is because of what is envisaged in the Child First, the Child First legislation which we got a look at but we’ve known a little bit about beforehand. And it is envisaged it would be a law (sic) not to report a crime. And say if a crime is about abuse of a child or neglect of a child was told in confession. What’s your reaction?”

O Donnchu: “As far as I’m concerned what I hear in confession, I have not heard.”

O’Donoghue: “Even if that is about a crime?”

O Donnchu: “Even, no matter how bad it is.”

O’Donoghue: “But what if it’s about something that’s ongoing?”

O Donnchu: “I would advise the person that they should make it known publicly or come to me outside of confession. But anything I hear in confession, it’s as if I have not heard it.”

O’Donoghue: “Ok, but Father, do you realise why some people would be angry with that stance? Given that, potentially, people could be at risk. You could be hearing about people that are at risk?”

O’Donnchu: “Yes, but if somebody comes to confession, they come with the understanding that what they say is entirely privileged, there’s no mention of it, ever.”

O’Donoghue: “But I deduce from that though the seal of confession takes precedence over the law?”

O’Donnchu: “The seal of confession takes precedence over everything.”

O’Donoghue: “Even another person’s safety?”

O’Donnchu: “Even my own safety. If someone came and told me that they poisoned the wine I was going to use for Mass, I would still use it.”

O’Donoghue: “But Father, in the incidences of, and I don’t know, I mean, obviously, I’m not a priest so I don’t know how commonplace it is but presumably people who are doing bad things have guilty conscience and, if they are Catholic, they might try to ease that conscience by going to confession and those things could be ongoing like neglect or abuse of a child.”

O Donnchu: “That’s correct. And I think it’s the duty of the priest there to insist with the penitent to do something about the activities that we’re talking about.”

O’Donoghue: “Yes, you can insist in your advice or your counsel that, ‘you should go to the Gardaí’ or whatever that is.”

O Donnchu: “But if they don’t want to go then there’s nothing I can do about it.”

O’Donoghue: “Well there is, but you’re choosing not to?”

O Donnchu: “Oh definitely, I’m choosing not to.”

O’Donoghue: “Are you at peace with that Father, that you could be leaving people in danger?”

O Donnchu: “Completely.”

O’Donoghue: “You’re completely at peace with that?”

O Donnchu: “Completely at peace with it.”

O’Donoghue: “Some people might be livid to hear that.”

O Donnchu: “[laughs] That’s possible. When I say that I’d be completely at peace, I suppose that’s not quite a full statement. I would of course be worried, personally. But I haven’t the liberty to divulge that to a single person.”

O’Donoghue: “You would be breaking the law from now on?”

O Donnchu: “I wonder would I?”

O’Donoghue: “Well I suppose it’s more of a question, would you be breaking the law in what is envisaged here?”

O Donnchu: “I don’t know, I haven’t seen the law. But if the law says that what I hear in confession I should go to the guards with, then I’m prepared to break that.”

O’Donoghue: “Even if, at the core of the issue here, Father, is something that I genuinely believe you would believe is strongly in: protection of the child in all instance.”

O Donnchu: “Definitely, I would do everything I could to protect a child.”

O’Donoghue: “But not to break the seal…”

O Donnchu: “But not to break the seal of confession.”

O’Donoghue: “So you are keeping one thing above the protection of the child then?

O Donnchu: “I’m keeping one thing above the protection of myself, the child, the protection of anything.”

O’Donoghue: “But you see Father, in say, the analogy you gave about the wine, that’s personal choice, you’re choosing not to protect yourself in that instance. A child can’t choose, a child could be in a harmful environment and, as an adult, you now have essential information.”

O Donnchu: “In a way I don’t. The priest with whom he’s in confession has that information but that priest is not allowed to divulge that information to anybody. That’s the way, that’s the way I was educated, that’s the way I’ve lived, that’s the way I intend to continue to live, please God.”

O’Donoghue: “Father Gearoid, is there any, and I understand you won’t tell me instances of confession, but is there any working around this? I mean can you act, based on something that you have heard in confession, I don’t mean tip someone off, I don’t mean something that blunt but can you act to remove people from situations in your other duties.”

O Donnchu: “No.”

O’Donoghue: “You don’t do anything based on what you hear in confession?”

O Donnchu: “Not a thing.”

O’Donoghue: “Even if that is breaking the law from now on, that’s what you’re willing to keep doing?”

O Donnchu: “I’m not sure if it is breaking the law but if it is breaking the law, then I’m prepared to do that.”


Listen back in full here

Related: Bill on mandatory reporting of child abuse published (RTÉ)


[Fine Gael Finance Minister, Michael Noonan, Labour Minister of State, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Jan O’Sullivan and Fine Gael Arts Minister, Jimmy Deenihan at the launch of the programme for Limerick City of Culture 2014]

You may recall how Limerick city was chosen as the City of Culture without any open competition.


The Mail on Sunday reported yesterday [not online] how Finance Minister Michael Noonan – a Limerick TD – lobbied for €6million for the festival… before he signed off on the money for the festival.

John Lee and Ben Haugh reported:

“Michael Noonan made representations to a Cabinet colleague over funding for Limerick City of Culture months before he signed off on €6m for the project. On July 2, 2013, the Finance Minister passed on a letter from Limerick City and County Manager Conn Murray to Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan asking for €6m funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

On October 15, Mr Noonan allocated the exact money requested in Mr Murray’s letter to the City of Culture in Budget 2014 – more than half the project’s total budget of €11.4m…As part of a normal budgetary process, Mr Deenihan would have to seek money from Mr Noonan to grant Limerick City of Culture any money as he controls the Government’s purse strings. Mr Noonan also wrote back to Mr Murray to inform him of his intervention, saying he should be assured of my attention to the matter.”


Previously: Only The Crony

Part Of The Culture

Pic: Sean Curtin via I Love Limerick

[Scene of a crash on the Luas Red Line at the Jervis stop in January 2013]

Breaking News reports:

“…the Red Line saw 34 collisions last year compared with only four on the Green Line. The Abbey Street and Jervis Street junction has been the location of 11 accidents involving cars and trams over the past decade.”

Luas planning safety campaign (Breaking News)


Irish Refugee Council writes:

This exhibition marks one year since the national day of action last year which called for an end to the institutional accommodation of people seeking international protection in Ireland…The main focus and aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness about the human cost of the current system, in particular the impact on children who are growing up within it.

‘One year on, and still no change’ Photography Exhibition (Irish Refugee Council)

Previously: Let’s Give Them Home

Asylum Seekers on Broadsheet


[From top: Dr Ciara Kelly on The Saturday Night Show at the weekend and a screengrab from the HSE's draft contract for the Free GP Care to Children Aged Under Six]

Dr Ciara Kelly, from RTÉ’s Operation Transformation, appeared on The Saturday Night Show last Saturday and spoke to host Brendan O’Connor about Health Minister James Reilly’s free GP care for children under six initiative and specifically about Section 28.4.4 that’s in the draft contract.

Brendan O’Connor: “Ciara, you mentioned there, the Primary Care System, we were all encouraged to go to your GP so you’re not clogging up the hospitals and everything – and in fairness, it’s the only kind of non-dysfunctional part of the Health Service, in the sense that if you want to see a GP, pretty much you can see a GP, usually if you’re lucky, within an hour or two, certainly that day, or the next day, or whatever – it works.”

Dr Ciara Kelly: “It works.”

O’Connor: “Is that going to fall apart now?”

Dr Kelly: “I think so, there are two brilliant things about General Practice – one is, the same day appointment, and in fact if you’re very, very sick and you walk in, probably the instant appointment – and A&E doesn’t provide that anymore. So that, I think is a very important thing. We’re hearing about this ‘Netherland’s Model’ that we’re moving to. The average waiting time to see a GP in the Netherlands is three to four days. And don’t think it’s free there either – they pay 23.9% of their income to have that universal healthcare insurance…”

O’Connor: “They pay a quarter of their income…for their healthcare alone?”

Dr Kelly: “That’s the model we’re moving towards…”

O’Connor: “Are you sure that’s right?”

Dr Kelly: “I promise you, that’s right. Or, people maybe go to the NHS model, one to three weeks is the average waiting time for an appointment GP on the NHS. Currently, what we have in Ireland is a very rare thing – instant access to your GP. And the other thing, I would say, quickly, is that we offer an egalitarian one-tier system, which doesn’t exist in the rest of our health service.
It is the only part of the health service that when you ring up, someone doesn’t say to you, ‘Do you have VHI?’ before they give you the appointment. It doesn’t matter to me whether someone has a medical card, or they are paying money, I will see them the same way – I will see a sick patient with a medical card ahead of a well patient who is private. So, I think we throw that away at our peril, that’s a really good thing – it works.
But the last thing is the gagging clause The gagging clause is part of the ‘Under 6 Contract’ – I will never get an ‘Under 6 Contract’, because I’m grossly critical of the HSE all the time, as you may know, in The Sunday Independent. We have been gagged, they are no longer going to let us be GP advocates for our patients. They have a gagging clause to prevent whistle-blowing in that contract. So, I could never criticise the HSE without losing my contract. We have seen very recently in this country the value of whistleblowers. I will never sign a contract that prevents me, or forbids me from speaking out if I see something wrong happening to my patient, I don’t trust the HSE – Im sorry!”

Watch back here


Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn makes a biblical parenting observation at Wednesday’s Committee hearing on the Children & Family Relationships Bill 2014.



At the same hearing.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer asks Tom Finegan of Family & Life if gay or lesbian couples or a gay person could raise a child and give it the love and security it needs?

Earlier: Keeping It In The Family


[From top: Dr Tom Finegan appearing before the Justice Committee on Wednesday and above Senator Ronan Mullen]


[Tom Finegan's LinkedIn profile, since deleted]

David McMahon writes:

“I thought I’d assemble the following just to show how small Dublin/Ireland is in terms of the people who occupy the civil society strata. It is pure coincidence of course that the example below relates to the personages involved, and no judgment is being made on the value of the individuals contributions. Undoubtedly a similar close relationship/cross population/dynamic applies to other areas and sectors. It’s just interesting.

1. The Children and Family Relationships Bill was before the Oireachtas Justice Committee on Wednesday; and in the main was acknowledged as a long overdue and progressive step in recognising the reality of Irish family and reproductive life. The Bill is by no way perfect.

2. In the afternoon session, the witnesses included Family and Life; and were represented by Dr Tom Finegan. Family and Life are based at 26 Mountjoy Square, and per their website:
Family & Life is not affiliated to any other organisation, it does not receive nor seek state, organizational or corporate funding; it does not engage in street collections, lotteries or the for-profit sale of goods. Family & Life is not a political lobby group’.

3. Dr Finegan is, a founding member of Catholic Comment; working alongside Ronan Mullen (Director) and David Quinn (Expert/Consultant). Other personages noted on Catholic Comment website include Breda O’Brien, Maria Steen and Lorcan Price.

4. Dr Tom Finegan, was Ronan Mullen’s previous Parliamentary Assistant, as evidenced at this Facebook acknowledgement: “Sen. Ronan Mullen has had to cancel, a last minute-cancellation. He is sending his Parliamentary Assistant Tom Finegan. He’s a PHD candidate in the area of medicine in Trinity College Dublin and will give a robust proposal of the Pro-Life Argument.”

5. Senator Ronan Mullen is a member of the Justice committee and directed his first line of questioning to Dr Finegan, after opening statements by all witnesses. There is no requirement on the part of Committee members to disclose previous professional relationships with witnesses, or is there?