Tag Archives: irish times

apple

A portion of an Irish Times Apple infographic.

Paul writes:

“The machine at the bottom looks like like an Apple II and the one above that seems to be the Original Mac. A geek fight is there for the taking. I’m not a geek. I’ve just been using the bastard computers since ’88. No plans on getting an iPhone though…”

Geek FIGHT!

U2 to appear in California for the launch of Apple’s new iPhone 6 (Brian Boyd, Irish Times)

denisBaloonDenis O’Brien

Denis.

And why he doesn’t need to own the Irish Times.

‘Cantillion’ writes:

“The deal might appeal to O’Brien for other reasons. The [Grand Canal] theatre is one of the best modern buildings in Ireland. It would be a shame to see it lost to the State until its lease runs out in 2207 if it was acquired by an international buyer.
O’Brien is a fan of good architecture so he can also appreciate its aesthetic value. The talented Seán Billings, who died in 2012, was facade consultant on the theatre’s remarkable visage and on O’Brien’s notable Digicel headquarters in Jamaica.
O’Brien is at his peak in business terms for the next few decades but perhaps he is thinking even further ahead by bidding for the theatre. It is a good business to own but it would be an incredible asset to ultimately bequest to the State. It would be quite the final act if the billionaire was so minded.”

Really?

*attempts to uncurl toes*

A new player appears in theatre-land (Irish Times)

(Photocall Ireland)

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 11.48.35

Dr Frances Finnegan, author of Do Penance Or Perish: A Study of Magdalen Asylums in Ireland

You might recall a post from February of last year, following the publication of the McAleese Report, entitled A Question Of Sex, Class And Gender.

It was a transcript of a discussion on Tonight With Vincent Browne, involving Dr Finnegan – who gave evidence to the Inter-Departmental Committee, chaired by former Senator Martin McAleese, and which published the McAleese Report.

During the discussion, Dr Finnegan told of her struggle to get her book published.

It took her 21 years to write, she published the first edition of it herself in 2001 and then, in 2004, Oxford University Press published it and continues to do so.

Dr Finnegan was also the historical consultant for Steve Humphries’ documentary Sex In A Cold Climate, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in March, 1998.

RTÉ never broadcast the documentary until April 7 of last year – 15 years after it was originally aired.

After it was aired on Channel 4 in 1998, the Irish Times ran a piece by Dr Niall McElwee, who was then Course Director in Applied Social Studies at the Waterford Institute of Technology.

Dr McElwee is the co author of a 1997 book called Prostitution in Waterford City, part funded by the Good Shepherd Sisters.

He wrote:

“The programme, Witness: Sex in a Cold Climate, facilitated the process of speaking out about injustices inflicted on them for four women who were obviously extremely hurt and traumatised by their experiences. There is no doubt they were profoundly let down by all concerned – by their families first and foremost, then by the State and by members of the religious communities supposed to be providing care and who instead betrayed their calling. Balance, however was missing. In this programme the nuns’ side of the story was not given.”

Following publication Dr Finnegan contacted the paper and was told the paper would print a right of reply if sent in within a certain period of time and if it was under a certain word limit.

She says she duly obliged.

She received a note from the duty editor stating:

“Due to pressure of space at the present time we would be unable to use it.”

This is her reply that went unpublished.

“It would be comforting to believe that nothing could have prepared an unsuspecting Irish public for the shocking revelations exposed in the Documentary Sex in a Cold Climate, shown on Channel 4 almost two weeks ago. However, this can hardly have been the case. Documentaries such as Dear Daughter, together with the growing number of recently published autobiographical accounts of brutality and neglect in Irish Industrial Schools must have softened this latest blow. Equally important, there can be few people over the age of 40 in this country who were wholly unaware of the existence and purpose of those vast institutions which, until the nineteen-nineties, housed the remnants of Ireland’s “Magdalen” class.

The original purpose of these Female Penitentiaries dating from the early nineteenth century, was the reform and restoration to society of penitent prostitutes and other “fallen” women. During the 1840s and 50s, however, nuns like the Good Shepherd Sisters from France took over the institutions, and Irish “Rescue Work” underwent a change. Short-term refuges became long-term Magdalen Asylums, whose inmates were discouraged from leaving and were frequently detained for life. Vast numbers of women were kept at work in laundries attached to the institutions, and subjected to penance, harsh discipline, silence and prayer. Completely cut off from the world and assigned new names, an alarming anonymity prevailed; and as prostitute numbers dwindled, other “fallen” women were targeted, including unmarried mothers, wayward girls and victims of incest or rape.

As “voluntary” institutions (without state support) Magdalen Asylums were completely unregulated for much of their existence. Attempts to bring Convent laundries within the protection of Factory and Workshop legislation were for many years successfully resisted, and their workers continued as virtual slaves. Untouched by Trade Unionism, the Female Liberation Movement, reformist legislation and a change in our attitude to sex, many of the inmates remained in the institutions until well after domestic washing machines brought the system to an end.

In December 1978 I was first given access to the Good Shepherd records, including the Penitents’ Registers of their Magdalen Asylums in Limerick, Waterford, New Ross and Cork. Although, of course, no instances of brutality or abuse (such as those recounted in the Channel 4 Documentary) emerged, it was immediately apparent that the system itself was appalling; and the fact that it continued, apparently un-regarded, into the late twentieth century, was a matter of further concern.

Also disturbing were recent indications that a concerted attempt was being made to whitewash or deny the whole shameful episode. Magdalen Asylums (until last week) were increasingly referred to, even in print, and by those who ran them, as orphanages, or shelters for homeless women. The fact that they were initially set up for prostitutes, and infinitely more horrific than the hated workhouse, was indignantly denied. Sex in a Cold Climate has ensured that the subject cannot now be quietly buried – unlike the hundreds of women who died in the institutions, and were placed in communal Penitent graves.

The Magdalen Movement, though ignoring men’s contribution to “sin”, cannot be attributed to the Victorian double standard in sexual morality, since most of its victims were casualties, not of the nineteenth century but the post-Victorian age. It seems more likely to have resulted from a continuing fear of female sexuality. But whatever its cause, it was an appalling injustice towards women, and particularly those of the poor.

To “move on” from what has yet to be properly revealed, under the pretext that history cannot be judged by the standards of today – would be a more shocking injustice than the episode itself. Perhaps this aspect of our heritage, as much as the Civil War, the Famine or the ’98 Rebellion might profitably in the future be taught in our schools.

The Documentary has been criticised for being unbalanced and ignoring the nuns’ side of the story – an extraordinary reaction to such a harrowing film. However, having worked with a huge variety of sources on the subject over a very long period, I can confirm that for more than a century, the women who ran these grim institutions have been given a very good press. A glance at any local newspaper item on the institutions, or any publication devoted to the Homes (or appealing for funds) will reveal that until fairly recently the nuns were regarded almost as saints – in contrast to the “evil sinners” they controlled. The purpose of the film, of course, was to capture the experience of the victims of the system – those people who have always been voiceless in the past. To the credit of the Documentary makers, the women found the courage to tell their stories, which were handled with such sensitivity and care.

The fact that certain nuns are still involving themselves in the area of prostitution, far from indicating change, confirms that a Community like the Good Shepherd sisters – founded for the sole purpose of “reforming” “fallen” women – has not yet relinquished this role. Let it do so now, since it is as inappropriate as it is distasteful, that an Order of celibate custodians, so long preoccupied with penance and sin, should still be concerning itself with the sexuality of others. The State has been charged with indifference and inactivity in the past – a naïve interpretation of the history of Magdalenism in this country, but one not wholly without foundation. Let it act now, to ensure that a proper inquiry into allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in the institutions (to say nothing of illegal detention) takes place immediately, so that wrong-doers are punished and restitution to those who have suffered, is made.

Previously: A Question Of Sex, Gender And Class

Article submitted to The Irish Times in 1998 in support of Channel 4′s Documentary Sex in a Cold Climate (Congrave Press)

Devine Report