Tag Archives: MC

From top: Yesterday’s The Guardian; Luke Brennan

Luke Brennan writes:

Honestly, is the truth important?’ I think it is. Or it should be. It is to me. Not specifically to me, I do like the truth, but, I’m just a bloke, a consumer/user/reader of articles.

But when I see the headline: ‘‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review’ As it did yesterday, on The Guardian homepage I can’t help thinking….and I’m paraphrasing here, that a magazine said that Carey Mulligan wasn’t hot enough in a magazine review.

I think two things, actually. I think Carey Mulligan said it, but I also think, reasonably enough, that she said it, because, well, that is what the magazine said.

Committed fan of Carey Mulligan that I am, I want to know more. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to click on that particular article, it features highly in the “most viewed” articles on the site.

I am, however, a little surprised when I visit the article, what Carey Mulligan said was a bit different, it was:

Speaking to the New York Times last month, Mulligan said the Variety review “was basically saying that I wasn’t hot enough to pull off this kind of ruse”.

Now, I think we all know the difficult word here is “basically”. Has anyone else had this conversation?

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m basically telling you the truth.”

You can see ‘basically’ is a very useful word when you want to tell the truth, but find it a little inconvenient. You start to use it when you hit your late teens and you work out that you are basically a genius.

So Carey is avoiding an inconvenience here, but where the truth is being stretched, or indeed hidden, is the removal of that word ‘basically’. I’ll show you how that works:

Me: “Are you telling me the truth?”

The Guardian: “I’m telling you the truth.”

I suppose you might be wondering at this stage what the review article actually said about Carey Mulligan?

It’s not really important. But they said:

“Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly many-layered apparent femme fatale – Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems a put-on.”

Now I personally think this criticism is unfair. The film is slightly clumsy, but important. It seems ridiculous to think how Carey Mulligan looks has anything to do whether it “works”.

It is diminishing of both the actor and film to see it reduced in this way and raises questions of whether the review author is able to pull off this particular ruse, or was he just looking for a little attention.

What I care a bit more about is the truth, and whether The Guardian feels the recycling of this reduction, with a removal of their own to fan the flames, is worth it.

It just sort of bothers me, as a Joe Schmoe, reader of articles, that they don’t hold themselves to a higher standard. Truth is a good starting point for any article, isn’t it?

Previously: Luke Brennan on Broadsheet

‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review (The Guardian)

‘Promising Young Woman’: Film Review (Variety, January 26)

Rik Daems, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, addressing council members this week

The Council of Europe  – an international Strasbourg-based organisation comprising 47 countries aimed at ‘protecting human rights and the rule of law in Europe ‘- has adopted the following ethical guidelines for member states ‘with respect to ensuring high vaccine uptake’…

7.3.1 ensure that citizens are informed that the vaccination is NOT mandatory and that no one is politically, socially, or otherwise pressured to get themselves vaccinated, if they do not wish to do so themselves;
7.3.2 ensure that no one is discriminated against for not having been vaccinated, due to possible health risks or not wanting to be vaccinated;
7.3.3 take early effective measures to counter misinformation, disinformation and hesitancy regarding Covid-19 vaccines;
7.3.4 distribute transparent information on the safety and possible side effects of vaccines, working with and regulating social media platforms to prevent the spread of misinformation;
7.3.5 communicate transparently the contents of contracts with vaccine producers and make them publicly available for parliamentary and public scrutiny…

Covid-19 vaccines: ethical, legal and practical considerations (Council of Europe)

Earlier: Nothing To Read Here

From top: Oscar Wilde; his cell in Reading Gaol as it is today; David Langwallner

I recently pre covid did a crown court case in Reading and, after a bizzare development whereby my client indicted on charges of robbery was simultaneously a witness in a murder case in an adjacent court, the case was adjourned. I thus sauntered out of the sleek new court, reflecting on life being stranger than fiction, and took the very brief walk down the road to a prison closed for the last number of years, Reading Gaol. It is three minutes walk away.

The prison is now a non-accessible if rather imposing oasis. Doors firmly shut but there is a number on the wall to phone security. So I did. A most helpful man, who does not wish to be named or identified, came to the door and asked me what I wanted.

Is it possible, I asked, to view the cell of Oscar Wilde, former prisoner here. He knew where the cell was and also who Wilde was, I explained my Irish background, produced a barrister’s calling card and was fortuitously allowed in, despite the prison closure.

The prison had been open a few years previously for a Wilde celebration of sorts. It is cell C22, rather anonymously named, but still the extant cell redecorated in bright colours, lots of red. Not the spartan colours Wilde must have faced but very pleasant, for it had been converted to a youth offenders’ institution. The thought did occur to me that Wilde of course, had abused the youth in conventional parlance.

The window from the poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” that he gazed out of is famously still there and I checked closely, and it seems historically authentic. I scrambled around to see if there was any WIldean graffiti but it has been done over so many times there did not appear to be any. But I did look out of the room with a degree of lift and gazed downwards confronting the Gorgons head, the prison courtyard.

In the poem it is of course clear that he saw the execution yard just below the window, and there it is a bit like looking into your garden.

It really is thus just below his room, or his confinement. Words matter, and he was a master of words beautifully crafted and phrased, the wit of all wits. Perhaps he used a suitably masked phrase to express his predicament.

By happenstance in a charity shop later I found a small treasury book of his witticisms, but I knew many of them already.

It should be stressed that he should never have been there in the first place, save for an error of judgment and perhaps hubris, to which we are all susceptible. His error of judgment was his wit. Words misplaced. As a Greek scholar he would have perhaps reflected on hubris and Icarus and flying too close to the sun.

The context of his confinement, let us use the polite word, at the height of his fame was of course that the Marquis of Queensbury left a calling card at his club to Oscar Wilde ‘posing as a sondomite’. Now of course the brutish inventor of the rules of boxing could not spell but the implication was clear and Wilde sued for libel, always, then and now, very dangerous.

He should not have done so, people should not conceal their failings or lie about them privately.

Wilde was lying and thought wit and theatrics could pull it through, and it nearly did save Edward Carson, a Trinity contemporary of Wilde’s. Mediocre lad, but a brilliant and tenacious cross examiner. Wilde got over confident about his innocent meetings with boys and Carson popped a surprise question. The true genius of the art of cross examination. After Oscar regaled the courtroom with the art of ridicule, dismissing any ulterior purpose to his many associations with boys, Carson asked about Grainger, said “did you kiss him?”. Wilde’s witty response, leading to his premature death,was “oh no he was far too ugly”.

The gate was thus open and other boys, less ugly, by implication were kissed. Reading Gaol Was the ultimate outcome.

It has always been a source of wonder why Carson was so vicious towards Wilde in court, considering they had played together as children in Ireland in Waterford, meeting again as students at Trinity College, Dublin, and in London. As the respective sons of a surgeon and an architect, Wilde and Carson were both born in 1854 to affluent Irish Protestant families in Dublin, and lived just a few streets apart

The Irish can be, of course, a deeply malicious lot. Anything goes and always has. Our downfall, collectively as a nation, is the art of cutting down tall poppies and destroying national heroes. Parnell suffered the same fate.

In any event, by a verbal mistake, Carson crucified him and, after several trials later culminating in a criminal prosecution, Mr. Wilde was off to do some hard labour in Reading gaol.

One should never be overconfident and should always see the pothole coming. Wilde did not. The intoxication of success blurred his judgement.Being cross examined, and cross examining, is a fine art and I have been at both the giving and receiving end so should know.

Wilde was also out of his depth, or should that be his milieu, and he did not understand the context. A courtroom is not a source of public entertainment, particularly if you are a witness. It is not a stage for a performance. Short precise honest responses are desirably required.

I have also visited Wilde’s gaudy grave in Père Lachaise, sponsored by his acolytes. It is, in that kitschy Art Deco way, over-inflated and slightly pop star-like, belying the grubby reality of what happened and what led to his early death.

Post release, or in the modern vernacular, post conviction he was a shattered man. A phrase such as a dandy in aspic does not quite cover it. His health was broken. The lubrications and dissipation of a certain lifestyle led him utterly unequipped to deal with the rigours of a Victorian prison. Dead in Paris a few years later. T

It is a grave risk always, as aforementioned, to submit to cross examination and Wilde should not have sued, unless capable of proving his innocence. He was too remote, in his gilded cage of artistic approbation in London, to get what he was confronting, namely the puritanical zealot that was Carson and the law courts, of which he was unfamiliar, and which he treated as a stage.

Carson did not, to be fair, it was said, pursue him any further after the initial damage had been done. The poor man has suffered far too much he said, refusing the criminal brief.

A smidgen of basic northern Irish decency if nothing else, a southern Irish person might well have accepted it for a few shillings? Well clearly not?

Now I would not have been there in Reading had my trial not been aborted, or if the friendly security guard had not let me in or, for that matter, if I was not practising law in London and had not got the brief to go to Reading. Causas causans.

So much of our success or opportunity in life thus is happenstance and accident.

Wilde should have realised, in Irish terms, he was on the pig’s back in London, that he had been embraced and accepted. He should have realised what people realised about him, and he should have acknowledged his foibles and certainly should not have crowed about them.

So, Wilde should not have sued and, all brilliance aside, and despite his death bed witticisms of dying beyond his means and the wallpaper or he needed to go, he died in a grubby hotel in Paris.

Reading Gaol seems to me modeled on Bentham’s panopticon based on the surveillance techniques he outlined. Constant watch where, by constant surveillance, the dignity of the prisoner is undermined. Wilde, expansive and gregarious, must have felt completely stifled.

The butterfly broken by brute force. It’s wing clipped.

I do not like cages, and God knows how Oscar was so confined. When he expresses in the ballad the fears, apprehensions and indeed dread of the man facing the gallows it is more noble than you might think. For when he gave evidence he signed his own death warrant, and must have been conscious of the dying of the light in prison.

He of course lobbied for prison reform as a result of his experiences in Pentonville Prison and Reading. My experiences in London so far suggest nothing other than people getting irretrievably psychologically and physically damaged by prison.

Certainly, the prison of constant surveillance and the harsh work culture are disgraceful as are the recidivist drug and abuse infested infernos we create today though they perhaps should incarcerate many of our right wing politicians and lawyers at least as therapy.

Not all artists, it should be said, lack wisdom and judgment. Beckett, a life well led and long, is in a different cemetery in Paris, distinguished to the end. Growing older gracefully. A less gaudy grave but a lot of tributes in Montparnasse.

I suppose what Wilde lacked Beckett had. Judgment. And judgment of people and context is so important.

Honesty also. Lies catch up on people over time and if you do lie do not turn it into a circus, Carson in his way, mediocre or not, saw this.

And now one more twist in the tale.

Long after Carson’s death in 1935, the son of one of his friends confided in a 1950 recently discovered letter:

“I was never able to get Carson to admit that Wilde possessed any ability at all. ‘Ah,’ he used to say angrily, ‘he was a charlatan.’’

Lod Birkenhead’s letter reveals the extent of Carson’s loathing:

“His distaste for Oscar betraying his own social class – consorting with people from the lower classes, as he’d have seen it – was almost as strong as his feelings of disgust about what Oscar had done.”

So Carson was not being honest about his motivations for taking the case. He wanted to do Wilde for his moral disapproval.

Though I love Oscar Wilde and think the Importance of being Earnest a greater play than Godot, because of its sparkling wit, it should be noted that Beckett wrote Godot at 50 with greater works like Endgame, The Trilogy and his wonderful evocation of childhood in Leopardstown in Company at 80. He preserved his dignity to the last.

In the interests of any degree of politicisation, which this contribution does not have, The Ballad of Reading Gaol is one of the greatest arguments against the death penalty, homosexual convictions and persecutions.

Given That the death penalty is still in Africa and other places still awarded for homosexuality the treatment of Oscar and his denouement is thus of piquant contemporary relevance,

But overconfidence in cross examination can be very dangerous. Wilde must have been conscious of this in his dying room in Paris witty to the last as aforementioned with two famous alleged deathbed lines.

“One of us must go: the wallpaper or me.”


“I am dying beyond my means” (as he guzzled champagne).

Beckett opens Company with the lines to one on his back in the dark. Imagine.

One wonders what Oscar imagined.

David Langwallner is a barrister specialising in public law, immigration, housing and criminal defence including miscarriages of justice. He is emeritus director of the Irish innocence project and was Irish lawyer of the year at the 2015 Irish law awards. His column appears here every Tuesday and Friday. Follow David on Twitter @DLangwallner


Guardian columnist George Monbiot

Anything good in the liberal press?

Via George Monbiot in The Guardian:

Why do we value lies more than lives? We know that certain falsehoods kill people. Some of those who believe such claims as “coronavirus doesn’t exist”, “it’s not the virus that makes people ill but 5G”, or “vaccines are used to inject us with microchips” fail to take precautions or refuse to be vaccinated, then contract and spread the virus. Yet we allow these lies to proliferate.

We have a right to speak freely. We also have a right to life. When malicious disinformation – claims that are known to be both false and dangerous – can spread without restraint, these two values collide head-on. One of them must give way, and the one we have chosen to sacrifice is human life. We treat free speech as sacred, but life as negotiable. When governments fail to ban outright lies that endanger people’s lives, I believe they make the wrong choice….

…I believe that spreading only the most dangerous falsehoods, like those mentioned in the first paragraph, should be prohibited. A possible template is the Cancer Act, which bans people from advertising cures or treatments for cancer. A ban on the worst Covid lies should be time-limited, running for perhaps six months. I would like to see an expert committee, similar to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), identifying claims that present a genuine danger to life and proposing their temporary prohibition to parliament.


Covid lies cost lives – we have a duty to clamp down on them (George Monbiot, The Guardian)



This afternoon.

Ballymun, Dublin 11.

Balloons are released by family members, neighbours and friends of Josh Dunne in Coultry Green near his home in Coultry Park.

Leah Farrell/RollingNews


This morning.

East Wall Dublin.

Tributes left at the scene on East Wall Road where teenager Josh Dunne was fatally stabbed on Tuesday evening. Members of the public have left flowers, balloons, football paraphernalia and photographs to honour the promising football star.


Yesterday: In East Wall


This afternoon.

Jacinda Ardern declares 2021 ‘the year of the vaccine; (Stuff.co.nz)


…in Ireland…

…Since last August, the Solidarity-People Before Profit and Rise group have been enthusiastically pursuing this approach [Zero Covid Strategy].

Hot on the heels of the committee presentation in August, Richard Boyd Barrett was the first to raise it in the Dáil, saying the strategy was needed to replace the “rollercoaster strategy going up and down with nobody quite knowing where it ends”.

The Social Democrats have, for some time, been advocating for much stronger restrictions on travel into the country, and have called for a Zero Covid or elimination strategy, which it says is supported by the public.

The Labour Party has avoided the term Zero Covid, and is instead advocating what its party leader Alan Kelly calls a “national aggressive suppression strategy” (he has even come up with the acronym NASS), which essentially amounts to the same thing: mandatory hotel quarantining for all those arriving into the country, rapid antigen testing in the community and serial PCR testing at health care facilities.

Sinn Féin now says it agrees with most of the premise of the Zero Covid approach, but does not believe it is possible without the political will to pursue the same strategy in Northern Ireland.

There is some support among Government TDs and senators for this approach. Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said he was “disappointed” that the Cabinet stopped short of the kind of mandatory quarantine measures in place in New Zealand and Australia…


Hints of Government inching towards Zero Covid approach (RTÉ)



Last night.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that anyone entering the State from overseas – with some exceptions – are now required to quarantine for the first time.

However, the requirement may take several weeks to become operational.

Via RTÉ News:

Mr Varadkar said some of this quarantining will be done in hotels, some in people’s homes.

Legislation will be needed to underpin the move to hold Irish and EU citizens without a negative Covid test in hotels.

It has also been confirmed that those returning from overseas to the State via Northern Ireland will be subject to the same legal requirements.

Fines for those outside the 5km travel limit who are intending to travel abroad will be increased from the current €100….


Arrivals from overseas face mandatory quarantine (RTÉ)


From left: Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns; Tuam Mother and Baby Home burial site


Dáil Éireann.

Social Democrat TD Holly Cairns asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin if he would observe the ‘legal obligation’ to hold inquests into deaths at Mother and baby Homes.

Deputy Cairns said:

“Under the Coroners Act, it is the duty of a coroner to hold an inquest when a body is found in his or her district and when a person dies in State custody or detention.

Given that the mother and baby homes commission has reported on mass disappeared infants’ and children’s remains in unmarked graves, there is a legal obligation for inquests to be carried out for each deceased individual.

We know this relates to a large number of coroners in every relevant district and would be unprecedented in the use of resources. There is a legal obligation, however. Will the Taoiseach ensure that coroners carry out their duty to ensure that survivors get justice?

Taoiseach Micheál Martin replied:

“I will make further inquiries on this. There are clearly legal obligations but that in itself is an enormous challenge going back to the early decades of the State from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. The 1940s in particular saw an appallingly high infant mortality rate in mother and baby homes. The Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is developing a broad base response to the commission’s report. How to deal with this will form part of it.”


Yesterday: ‘Gaslighting Survivors’



From top: Senator Mary Alice Higgns; Senator Joe O’Reilly and  Senator Gerard Craughwell


Seanad Éireann.

Senators resumed debating the conclusions drawn from the Report of the Mother and Baby Homes Commission of Investigation with many powerful contributions.

Some highlights.

Senator Lisa Chambers said:

“Questions remain to be answered by the commissioners themselves over some of the language. I do not think the Minister is in a position to answer the questions that we might have about certain phraseology used in the report. I refer to the statement that there was no evidence that children were harmed in these institutions. That is an obscene statement and one that is nothing but insulting to the survivors of those homes. Direct testimony is evidence. People recounting their direct experience is evidence. Are we looking for CCTV footage? Are we looking for photographic evidence? Who are the commissioners to decide that the evidence is not there? Were they so long in the bubble of doing this report that they became desensitised and cold to the experience of the people that lived through this experience?

“Questions must be asked about the accounts that some survivors gave that were not properly accounted for in the investigation. I refer to questions that were apparently put to survivors that were never put to them.

“We cannot simply brush over those things. There is now an onus on the Government and the State to address those questions properly. I reiterate my call that the commissioners involved in preparing this report should, take questions from survivors, the public and the media. They are not in isolation. They are publicly known now; we know who they are. They were paid well for their work. They were given ample time to complete their work. I do not think the State received from them the level of workmanship that would have been expected on that report.”

Senator Sean Kyne said:

“It is also clear that in this State, it was a man’s world. There were men who got girls and women pregnant and did not take responsibility. Of course, that does not apply to all men, as others have said, but there were those who did not take responsibility. We think of the men in the church, and it was predominantly men, although many nuns also acted in an unchristian manner within these institutions. We think also of the men in politics, and it was predominantly men, in the Dáil, Seanad and local councils. Some of those men were in charge of these institutions.”

Senator Gerard Craughwell said:

“I was in a house on the night that a girl who was working away from home rang her mother to tell her she was pregnant. The girl’s father was a stern, Victorian man and I remember the family that night being in panic about how they were going to deal with it and how they would tell the father.

“As soon as that man heard it, the first thing he said was: “Bring my daughter home and let me look after her”. Not every family disowned their child and I take grave exception to the practice of calling out families as having deserted their children.”

Senator Malcolm Byrne said

“I do not buy it that some natural mothers do not want contact with their children.

“The evidence shows that one in 20 natural mothers who were on the national adoption contact preference register did not want contact with their son or daughter, but at no stage did they want information about their health circumstances and so forth denied to their child.”

Senator Joe O’Reilly said:

“The process is just starting now and I see it as being a two-pronged approach. The first is that we are remembering and acknowledging in a very public, holistic and proper way. We are even allowing further testimony. We are doing all that. The second is that we compensate in a generous, holistic and unmiserly way that will not be difficult to access. These people experienced enough hardship as vulnerable people. It is time they were the recipients of kindness from the State.”

Senator Alice Mary Higgins said

“The report tells us that the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission asked for any investigation to be informed by human rights law, but the Government did not opt for that approach in its mandate to the commission. This raises very serious questions. The sidelining of human rights really does show.

When the State puts a payment on the heads of vulnerable people, as it still does with regard to direct provision and homelessness, it can be dangerous. When the State surrenders power to religious orders, as is currently planned for the national maternity hospital, it can be dangerous. I urge the Minister to work with all of us to build a state that takes responsibility for the past and for the future.”

Senator Vincent P Martin said:

“We had the Dáil Éireann republican courts from 1919 to 1924 during the struggle for independence when the people turned their backs on the British common law system. There was a judge all those years ago called James Creed Meredith.

“In a groundbreaking decision at the time, by applying Brehon law rather than common law, he ruled that the father of a child born out of wedlock ought to pay maintenance. It is a small thing. When we restored the British-style Judiciary in 1914 we reapplied the common law and we reversed that decision.

“That was the position all the way up to our lifetime and the 1980s. Then, past Members of this House – we should give them credit for it – including Mary Robinson and Nuala Fennell, were instrumental in giving recognition to such basic rights as inheritance rights and recognition for children born outside of wedlock.”

Senator Annie Hoey said:

“I refer to the insistence that the Church and the State did not force women into the mother and baby homes and that there was no forced adoption or coercion. I speak for many people when I say that those statements are incredible, almost audacious. My colleague, Senator Craughwell, put it correctly when he said that this is gaslighting survivors. In the same week that we have had the first person convicted and sentenced for coercive control, a crime for which I believe a twelve-and-a-half-year sentence was handed down, I find it extraordinary that we can recognise coercive control as a crime but not cast our eyes back into our grisly past and see the deep coercion that took place in those homes.”

Senator Garret Ahern said:

“When the Department of Health proposed turning the Sean Ross Abbey into a home for children with special needs in the 1960s, the Bishop of Killaloe rejected the proposal. His intervention resulted in a number of visits to the bishop by senior civil servants and letters from Ministers. The closure of the Sean Ross Abbey was delayed for several years until the bishop had died and his successor subsequently gave his approval. During those years, many children died.”

Transcripts via Oireachtas.ie

Thanks Breeda Murphy