Tag Archives: Justine McCarthy


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Above: Sunday Times journalist Justine McCarthy (above) on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night and (centre) former Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan

You may recall a post from last September regarding a report by the Children’s Ombudsman into allegations of physical and sexual at an unidentified primary school in Co. Kilkenny.

The school’s child-abuse prevention policy which applied at the time of the alleged abuse states:

“The Stay Safe programme has been approved by the board of management as a teacher’s aid to be used in accordance with the Catholic ethos which demands that the law of God and of the church, and not the child’s feelings, be the guiding principle.”.”

Further to this, Ms McCarthy spoke about the case on Tonight With Vincent Browne last night.

Her appearance followed Fianna Fáil leader Mícheal Martin raising the matter with Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Leaders’ Questions yesterday in which he claimed the Education Minister and the Department of Education have refused to meet with the parents of the children concerned.

Ms McCarthy told viewers:

“In 2006, a child came home from her rural school in Co. Kilkenny and she had a bruise on her arm and when her parents asked, ‘what had happened?’, she said that, ‘a teacher had done it’.

This was the start of what turned out to be a series of disclosures by children, 10 children, aged mostly 5 and 6, who were in a national school, against 3 female teachers in their school.

They alleged that all three had been physically abusive and that two of the teachers had been sexually abusive. The parents contacted the school and, to this day, they really have got no proper response.”

The allegations were investigated by the guards and the HSE and the Board of Management in the school also investigated them. The Children’s Ombudsman, Emily Logan, the first Children’s Ombudsman, she never actually published this report.

She released it to the relevant parties on the day that she left the job as Children’s Ombudsman. The reason it took five years to complete that report is that it was blighted by legal considerations. First of all, the need to keep the identities of children private. But, secondly, because there are serious issues about people’s reputations. And I have to make it clear that these are just allegations.

But the Children’s Ombudsman found very serious, made very serious findings in relation to the HSE and the school found that these allegations were never, in effect, investigated because they were never properly investigated.

Now the report was released to the school, to the Department of Education and to [child and family agency] Tusla and they were all given time to respond to it. That time is up. I believe that the Tusla and the department have responded.

I wrote a story myself some time ago that the chairman of the board of management, who is a priest, held a meeting with the parents of the children who are currently in the school and told them that the report [Children’s Ombudsman’s report] is riddled with errors, he wants it withdrawn and an apology made.

Since this all happened, new complainants and new allegations emerged. These are now being investigated by the guards on Harcourt Square in Dublin. There’s a more serious attitude being taken this time.

That means you have guards investigating this at the moment, Tusla has also appointed a child law solicitor to do a review of how the original allegations were handled.

And that’s probably a good sign that the solicitor I believe is Catherine Ghent, who has a very good reputation. I don’t think she would have taken this on if she felt she wasn’t going to be able to do a proper review.

The teachers against whom the complaints were made are still teaching in the school, even as these two investigations are going on and I think, most significantly, one of the teachers against whom allegations were made, is the principal of the school.

She’s the designated recipient of complaints of child abuse for the school and she continued to sit on the board of management when the board of management was handling these complaints. So there are a lot of questions to be asked about the whole process and about the fairness of the procedures”


“When Louise O’Keeffe met the Taoiseach, and I think it was the Minister for Children and the Minister for Education, before Christmas…you remember she came to meet them to discuss how the Government was going to respond to the European Court judgement.

She actually brought a letter with her that was written by that first child, who came home with the bruise on her arm and that child wrote that letter to Enda Kenny, asking him to do something about this.

And I think it’s very interesting that, in fact, the Government’s response to the judgement in the Louise O’Keeffe case is to exclude anybody who was abused in school where no previous complaint had been made.

Now, if you were to apply that to  this current case, and to think these are still children, they would not qualify because there had been no, that I know of, no complaint made before that child came home in 2006 with the bruise on her arm.

Watch in full here

Previously: ‘Any Minister In that Cabinet Meeting Should Be Ashamed’

The ‘Law of God Not the Child’s Feelings Is The Guiding Principle’

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaking during Leaders’ Questions last Wednesday

You may recall how last week Taoiseach Enda Kenny announced that, from July 2, lone parents who work more than 19 hours per week will lose their One Parent Family Payment when their youngest child turns seven. 

It’s been reported – and claimed by Fianna Fáil – that the measure will see up to 32,000 families see their income drop by €86 per week.

During Leaders’ Questions on Wednesday last, Mr Kenny told the Dáil:

“We need to transform what we are doing in getting people back into the world of work, including lone parents. Many of them have said to me that this is what they want to do.

Justine McCarthy wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Times:

During leaders’ questions last Wednesday, Enda Kenny, the taoiseach, reiterated that payments to lone parents will be cut from next July as an incentive to get them back to work. This is a policy loaded with erroneous presumptions. It insinuates that lone parents, the vast majority of whom are mothers, are lazy slobs who lie on their sofas all day, munching junk food and watching vacuous reality TV shows. It suggests the mothers themselves are to blame for being unemployed, and not the political class whose self-interested management of the country caused an economic and employment catastrophe.”

“Instead of beating mothers back to work with a big stick, the government ought to address the inequalities that skew the labour market against women. Females are the country’s most prolific academic achievers but they are appallingly under-represented on company boards and management floors. Women in Ireland are still paid 14% less than men, with 50% of women workers on €20,000 a year or less.

“At the same time, Irish childcare costs are the highest of 34 OECD countries. Two decades ago an incoming Fianna Fail-PD government undertook to address childcare costs. It did, by providing tax shelters for creche operators. If this government wants single parents to go to work, it should make the workplace fair. However, it’s simpler to impose a crude and draconian measure that will deprive many lone-parent families of up to €80 a week, with obvious ripple consequences for their children.”

Pic: National Women’s Council Of Ireland


Justine McCarthy, of The Sunday Times, addressing the Trailblazery ‘We Need To Talk About Ireland’ conference in March

In 1992, the judges of the Supreme Court heard evidence that Ms X, the pregnant 14-year-old girl, had told her mother she wanted to throw herself downstairs and had contemplated jumping in front of an oncoming train. Anti-abortion advocates have rubbished the court’s landmark judgment in the X case, on the grounds that it heard no expert psychiatric evidence. So what should the judges have done? Told the girl to get a grip, go home and give birth to her rapist’s baby? Medieval as it sounds, this is precisely what the Irish state will continue to tell rape victims after the current bill has passed into law. Should they attempt to terminate their pregnancies on Irish soil, they will be liable to arrest, trial and 14 years in prison.

Ms McCarthy in her Sunday Times column on June 30, 2013, before the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act was signed into law.

McCarthy: Abortion law should be decided by public, not politicians (Justine McCarthy, June 30, 2013, Sunday Times)

This weekend, as one of his predecessors is mourned, [Taoiseach Enda] Kenny should note how the encomiums to Albert Reynolds ring with tributes to his political courage. That personal quality helped deliver the 1993 Downing Street declaration and the IRA’s 1994 ceasefire, the early shoots of lasting peace on this island. Reynolds was the taoiseach for only 33 months but his guts won him an eternal place in history.

Kenny has demonstrated his own political valour. Now he has the opportunity to apply it to resolving an issue that has caused more than 150,000 females to sneak abroad for abortions since the 1983 referendum and that has caused others physical and psychological trauma, and even death. If he can bring an end to this 31-year horror, he too will have his place in history. More immediately, he could reap a reward in the next general election.

Ms McCarthy in her Sunday Times column (behind paywall) yesterday


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[Independent TD Mick Wallace ]

When Enda Kenny hailed the February 2011 general election as a “democratic revolution at the ballot box”, he was probably alluding to the virtual wipeout of Fianna Fail, not a style revolution. That’s what we got when Mick Wallace, Richard Boyd Barrett and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan rocked up for work as TDs. The establishment had paroxysm with fright. Pink polo shirts, bomber jackets, dangling plastic earrings, ponytails and blond dreadlocks were the arsenal of anarchy.

The reaction was reminiscent of the scorn poured on the late Tony Gregory when he took his seat as a Dublin Central independent – and refused to wear a tie. With such frivolity do anarchists change the world.

These independents have as much in common with the establishment’s crony circles as they have with Yves Saint Laurent. That is probably their strongest selling point. They were lucky that Kenny never needed them to form a government – it allowed them to remain outsiders. Their challenge now is not to become insiders in the new ‘normal’ they have created. By their clothes we may know them, but by their actions shall we judge them….”

Sunday Times’  Justine McCarthy From her column yesterday (available here behind paywall).

Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland


Journalist Justine McCarthy’s address to the Trailblazery ‘We Need To Talk About Ireland’ conference in the Round Room of The Mansion House, Dublin last weekend..

“It’s very hard to know how great we can possibly be unless we know how great we have been.

The first Irish people, Muintir Na hEireann, came here thousands of years ago from Africa. They were followed by The Celts, The Vikings and the English Planters. The inspiring Irish who send shivers down my spine are the farmers who tilled the Neolithic Ceide Fields in Mayo and the architects who built Newgrange ever before the Egyptians thought of building pyramids.

The momentum of 9,000 years a-growing ultimately exploded here in this haunting Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House with the gathering of the first Dail Eireann.

On January 21st 1919, 29 revolutionary men and women met here and declared Ireland independent. They did it in 3 languages – Irish, English and French. The picture behind me is of that first Dail when they spoke these words…

“We solemnly declare foreign government in Ireland to be an invasion of our national right which we will never tolerate, and we demand the evacuation of our country by the English garrison”.

Less than three years later, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties won self-determination under the Anglo Irish Treaty.

Today as we approach the centenary of the first Dail, it’s clear that somewhere along the way Ireland swapped one garrison for another, except this time the colonists came from amongst ourselves.

They were a political and business class who behaved as if they owned Ireland, carving it up between them for their own enrichment. They paid mere lip service to the Republic’s ideals of equality and fraternity. Where our forefathers had envisioned fairness, they fostered golden circles and feather-bedded cronyism.

Their rampage culminating in the surrender of Ireland’s economic sovereignty in November 2010.

As we staggered through the smoking ruins, the Catholic Church that had so dominated independent Ireland, was itself too crushed to help lead us through it. Revelations of how the Church had sheltered child-raping priests had rendered it, at best, morally neutered.

From the start, gombeen mé-feiners conspired with the Church to keep women in their place. The State’s founding fathers banished to Purdah the same women they had fought alongside for liberty. The total betrayal of our ancestors who gave their lives for our freedom bent us to near breaking point. But we did not break.

Our strength is each other, both on this island and everywhere else.

The Irish have long been wandering this earth. From our Atlantic-lashed little island, Irish missionaries, soldiers and humanitarian workers have travelled unimaginable journeys to spread goodness.

Their willingness to travel to the ends of the earth is a great legacy of our ancestors, so that today far away Australia has the highest per capita Irish descended population in the world.
And Bono can proclaim, with only a modicum of rock-star hyperbole, that the United States of America is actually an Irish colony.

It’s been a two-way street.

Once upon a time, a man called Mahatma Gandhi took inspiration from the peaceful protests of Michael Davitt’s Land League to win independence for his own India.

Nelson Mandela, who was conferred with the freedom of Dublin in this very Mansion House, took solace during his long imprisonment from the Dunnes Stores strike.

Daniel O’Connell’s struggle for Catholic emancipation impelled Frederick Douglass onward in his fight against American slavery. In turn, Douglass inspired Barack Obama – whose people hailed from Moneygall in the middle of Ireland – to become America’s first black President.

What goes around comes around, as they say. The world will not stop spinning on its axis and the Irish people will go on spinning with it, wherever we are on earth. From catastrophe… spring new beginnings. Perhaps now, at last… a terrible beauty really can be born.”


Yesterday: “ireland Is An Addict”

Full Trailblaze show here

Thanks Kathy Scott