Posts Tagged ‘ Eamon De Valera ’

Blast from the Past – Snippets From History

In 1981 Sean McBratney wrote a book called “Lagan Valley Details”. What is it about Northern story-tellers that make their tales so endearing? Simple plots, human observances, a little humour and an unfussy narration perhaps. Sean McBratney has a beautiful tendency to jog the reader along with fun and then slap home a tragic twist in his last paragraph. There is the hilarious story of ‘Patsy Quigley’s jump off the Viaduct near Dromore’. Making a pair of wings, Patsy was to perform the deed. Bets being laid in the local pub. The church unable to persuade him to change his mind. When McHenry heard the proposition: ‘……..the sort of easy-going man who would often save up his words until his pipe went out …..- looked very pensive…..’, and Patsy’s wife: ‘…..had a vision of herself left  a widow and young Pat left without a father ……(and) phoned a solicitor and asked him if she could take out one of these injunctions to stop a man jumping off a great height in an attempt to fly ….’.  Humpy Davis tells an ‘unbelievable tale’ of a talking tree in which he observes: ‘….Leprechauns are diminutive Irish Nationalists. Proper fairies…..have no interest in politics at all and have no nationality….’.

In 2001 RTE had a new series called “Ireland’s Greatest Hits” which answered some interesting questions. Did you know for example that Andrea Corr likes to bathe to help her write sexy lyrics? Or that Gloria’s smash hit One Day at a Time was recorded in Nashville in just ten minutes? Did you know that King of the Culchies, Aon Focal Eile star Richie Kavanagh was booked to play at a party in the jet-set South of France resort of St Tropez every summer ? RTE 1’s new series looked at the stories behind the songs, talked to the singers, the writers and the  producers and uncovered all the tricks,  magic, coincidences, luck and success that are part of every hit.

Also in 2001 the film “Merlin: the Return” was released. Rik Mayall as Merlin and Patrick Bergin as King Arthur – magically  transported to 21st century Stonehenge, where they run for their lives from an evil scientist played by Tia Carrera from Wayne’s World. Someone. Please. Tell me I’m hallucinating.

In olden times beards grew more out of necessity. The fashion of the beard varied in different countries at particular times. Surprisingly enough the Egyptians were clean shaven and also the young Greeks. It is believed that the Romans didn’t start shaving until about 454 AD. The first day of shaving was regarded as entering manhood. It was celebrated with a festival where the newly-shaven wined and dined. Ceaser tells us that the ancient Britons let the hair grow long only on the upper lip corresponding to a  moustache, although they didn’t have a name for it. The Saxons are said to have grown beards but the Normans shaved the entire face. Until about the 17th century the beard was in fashion and was accepted as part and parcel of human apparel. It was now the hey-day of the razor and the familiar ‘cut-throat’  bared men’s faces throughout England and America. With the Crimean War and its subsequent hardships the beard came into vogue once again and many took a soldier’s licence. The long beard adorned the face until the 19th century. In the early 20th century it again disappeared from fashion but the Second World War brought the hair back on the faces of Europeans, but Americans were  reluctant to do so.

Back to 1981 again and in this year Uilick O’Connor wrote a biography of Oliver St John Gogarty. Biographies of famous literary people are seldom uninteresting. A biography ‘of one of the great lyric poets of his age’ who was also a wit, a surgeon, a senator, a playwright, an aviator, athlete and Irishman is most interesting. Passages of Gogarty’s own writings adorn the manuscript. Brilliant –  like his description of a Dublin Madam, Mrs Mack of Nightown: “A brick-red face, on which avarice was written like a hieroglyphic, and a laugh like a guffaw in hell ….”. He gives information on a number of people -Arthur Griffith, George Moore, architect Michael Scott, Gabriel Fallon, Eamon de Valera, James Stephens and many others. As a surgeon Gogarty was something of a Robin Hood. He refused to charge Gabriel Fallon for his professional attendance remarking: ‘I have a Duchess coming from London  and I’ll settle her snout for a century’. A touch of M.A.S.H in the operating theatre too: “Jesus Christ”, cried a young assistant in dismay when a lesion burst during an operation. “Cease calling on your unqualified assistant”, Gogarty hissed. Dublin’s great institutions come alive for us here:  The Bailey, TrinityCollege, Joyce’s Tower, the better classes (‘born concussed’) or the larger than life Dubliner ‘six feet three in height with a head like the Kaiser’ reading Shakespeare while other people slept. Visits to the country too – to Renvyl and further south for a sarcastic diatribe on Eamon de Valera: “….they say in Clare that the blacksmiths are shoeing the cattle so that they may gallop round the fairs on the look out for a purchaser….”

Also in 1981 Peter Haining wrote “The Leprechauns Kingdom”. The subject may be open to ridicule in our twenty first century but anybody with even a big toe still in the past will be pleased to ponder again on the Tuatha de Dannan and their contemporaries. There is no mention of the famous O’Grady banshee in the section on that lady whose comb (rack) so  many of us picked from a ditch with mock bravery. The song of O’Neill’s banshee is given – treble clef key of E (those O’Neills were always snobs – we always deemed the banshee to wail not sing an aria!). The Kildare Luricheen does not  figure in this book either but its pages bulge with other Lullachans, merrows, pookas, water sheerie – even were wolves and vampires.

Many years ago Kathleen Clarke wrote “Revolutionary Women”. There is adequate factual  (and fictitious) material available for the historian or general reader. Which makes Kathleen Clarke’s autobiography all the more  welcome. Wife of Tom Clarke, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 rebellion, she was a Daly from Limerick and her story gives fascinating background information on the whole struggle. For example she tells how a Dublin festooned with Union Jacks annoyed her so much that she began making up tricolours from yards of ribbon and soon had the tide of colour in Dublin streets changed. Her memoirs tell of her time in the United States, her part in the rising and its aftermath including imprisonment with Countess Markievicz. IRB and Cumann na mBan activity is outlined. The German Plot, the Black and Tans, Collins advising her to go on the run and she refusing because of her 3 children. The story goes on until we reach  the amusing take-over of Lord Mayor of Dublin from Alfie Byrne in 1939. Not for Kathleen portraits of Queen Victoria and others that had survived in the Mansion House. She ordered removal men to arrive at 6am and sat up all night to make sure they were admitted.

In 1991 a man called Teddy Delaney wrote “Where we Sported and Played”. At the time on radio,  one channel chat-show was discussing the availability of condoms to young people, the other featured a couple (husband unemployed) with nineteen children who spoke of their happy family. Books like Where we Sported and Played provide a soothing read in such times. They tell of less complicated times when simple sporting and playing went alongside hard work and when life seemed to be happier. Teddy Delaney slots in snatches of history as he describes the life of a Cork youth in the early 1950s and   1960s. Raza and queen  cakes, holidays in Youghal, hanging around the quays in the hope of getting some chocolate crumb from a docker uploading Cadbury’s merchandise, verses of street rhymes and loftier verse, including Goldsmith – here is  a mix as strong as drisheen that would make you ‘wax a gaza in Pana ‘.   And if you don’ know what that means you should never dare sing ‘De Banks’. Nice one, Mercier and Teddy Delaney.

In 1999 Gene Kerrigan and Pat Brennan wrote a book called “This Great Little Nation”. It’s ‘the A-Z of Irish scandals and controversies’ and covers everything from the Fethard boycott of the 1950s to the tribunals of the 1990s and such  issues as the Ann Lovett case and the downfall of Albert Reynolds government. And did you know that one of the first tribunals of inquiry was held  in 1947, the subject of which was Locke’s Distillery in Kilbeggan? The sale of the distillery by the two remaining members of the Locke family in 1947 attracted the attention of a group of international chancers. These were Englishman Horace Henry – Smith, Austrian Herbert Saschell and Georges  Eindiguer from Switzerland, who made up Trans-World Trust based in Lausanne, Switzerland. They quickly got the support of the Department of Industry and Commerce in their plan to buy Locke’s Distillery. The intention they claimed was that they would manufacture whiskey for export but they would also develop the home market. They would revive the great and ancient little distillery. However after the trio had tea with the President Sean T O’Ceallaigh at the Aras, it was discovered that the lads were crooks and Smith was really a Russian with a false passport wanted by the British police while the Austrian had been given a month to leave the country by Gardai three months earlier. It eventually transpired that the boys were after the 60,000 gallons of matured and maturing whiskey at Kilbeggan and that they had no intention of getting the company up and running at all! Three judges oversaw a tribunal of inquiry but found that there had been no political collaboration in Transworld’s scheme. And you remember that famous necklace that Maureen Haughey received from the Arab about 25 years ago- well the allegation at the time of Locke’s Distillery was that Eindiguer had presented a gold watch to a son of the Taoiseach Eamon De Valera or had been advised to, to smooth his way towards the distillery purchase!

In 1971 a Dublin journalist wrote a book called “How to read between the clichés”. How usually reliable is “the usually reliable source”? How expert “the leading expert”? How uncomfortable are you likely to be in a hospital ward when a newspaper blithely describes you as “comfortable”? The answers to all these questions and many more will be found in this definitive if somewhat satirical work. If a newspaper report describes you as being “comfortable” in hospital following an accident it can be taken for granted that you are uncomfortable. If you are described as having had “a good night” it can be taken for granted that you had a bad one. “Slightly improved” means you are about to be discharged; “no change” means that the hospital staff didn’t bother to check for the reporter when he telephones. “Seriously ill” means that you are in the operating theatre and they’re working on you. “Critical” means that you have just come back from the operating theatre. ”Very critical” means that it is time to send for the shroud. “A raging inferno” is any fire which causes loss of life even the life of the semi-detached budgie. “The girl was not however criminally assaulted” can usually be taken as meaning that although she was beaten up she was not raped. “Frantic efforts” in general are often normal activities of people the firemen, police and doctors. “Heroic efforts” are civilians attempting to perform the normal activities of firemen, police and doctors. “Trojan efforts” means that both the “frantic efforts” and the “heroic efforts” failed in the face of the emergency. The Gardai “are anxious to interview” is a full scale manhunt.

World War II and the Irish deserters

Fighting for the Crown has always been a touchy subject in Ireland. Those who would take the King’s shilling were often looked down upon by friends and neighbours and even family members simply for joining the enemy. Despite the nationalist reasoning behind a substantial number of volunteers who left to fight Germany in World War I, returning soldiers were cast aside, branded traitors to Ireland by a society successfully brainwashed into believing the nationalist narrative driven into their minds by both the nationalist leaders and of course the Catholic Church. Coming home from World War II, one section of Irish soldiers who fought in Europe faced a much graver situation – not just the hatred of a nationalist populace, but imprisonment and reprisals on both themselves and their families, for the crime of deserting the Irish Defence forces.

Recently, Alan Shatter has announced a proposed piece of legislation which will provide an official amnesty for those Irish citizens who left their posts in the Free State army to fight for the Allies in mainland Europe. “The government apologises for the manner in which those men of the Defence Forces were treated after the war by the state,” Shatter declared. Following the outbreak of war in September 1939, Éamon de Valera immediately declared that the Irish Free State would remain neutral for several reasons – in view of the continued partition of Ireland, neutrality as the ultimate declaration of Ireland’s independence as well as the more practical matter of Ireland being a small nation and vulnerable to attack should she choose sides. Throughout the war, Dev maintained the Free State’s position. Strong pressure came from London over the use of Irish ports by the British navy, supported by the American representative in Dublin, David Gray. Dev continually refused any such requests, arguing that any moves in favour of one side would threaten the Free State’s safety, a stance which served to enhance his support from the populace. But really, Ireland wasn’t all that neutral, and certainly showed sympathetic leanings towards the Allies and their cause. For one thing, the Irish army passed on information to the British, while British soldiers who found themselves landing in the Free State were quietly slipped over the border into Northern Ireland; their German counterparts were instead arrested and interned. So, one might think, it wouldn’t be a step too far for some Irishmen to aid the Allies in their fight against Germany.

In the Irish Defence Forces were a large number of highly trained men, ready and itching to go into action which wouldn’t happen for them, barring an invasion of Ireland. A good portion of these men saw what was happening in Europe, and were unhappy with the country’s position of neutrality, men who wanted to fight – against evil, for more money and even food (which was distinctly lacking in Ireland’s army) or just for the hell of it. Around 4,500 to 5,000 are believed to have deserted their positions in the Irish Defence forces (alongside those who had legitimately joined the British army) and left Ireland to fight on the battlefields of Europe, though not all for the same sides. They joined different regiments and fought in many countries and during some of the most important episodes of the war which would eventually swing the Allies way. But if they expected to return home to a hero’s reception, they were sorely mistaken. While the Irish government was ostensibly neutral, the citizens were certainly not. And it’s not hard to understand why. These were a generation of people who had lived through the execution of the rebels of 1916, the War of Independence and the infliction of the Black and Tans, the Civil War and the toll that took on the populace, not to mention the partition of Ireland and the continued troubles across the country. Anti-British sentiment was still very fresh, and here were people, Irish people no less, who had deserted their country to go and fight in the army of the old enemy. And so came, from Dáil Éireann (despite their unofficial assistance to the Allied forces), the starvation order, officially known as the Emergency Powers Order No. 362, passed under the Irish Emergency Powers Act of 1939. The severity of the deserter’s punishment shows that the government of the time wanted to inflict as much physical and psychological pain on those 5,000 returning soldiers as possible. Under the legislation, they were to be punished in four ways – they forfeited all pay during the period of desertion, all pensions were lost to them, any employment benefits they might have been eligible for were revoked and for a period of seven years they were not allowed to hold any job paid for from public money. This, the government maintained, was to ensure that those who had faithfully fulfilled their oaths to the Free State army were the first to get the available jobs following demobilisation, to deter any future desertion and as a cost-effective way of dealing en masse with those who deserted, rather than incurring the cost of dealing with each individual through court-martial. In October of 1945, TD Thomas O’Higgins made moves to annul the legislation; while condoning desertion he felt the punishment laid on those who left for the Allied armies was far too harsh. However, the Dáil voted in favour of the order.

The resultant effect on those soldiers and their families is still felt even to this day. Speaking in recent years, those who still lived recalled the ever-present fear of being brought to task because of their choices. Work was hard to come by, as employers didn’t look too kindly on membership of the British army, forgetting the desertion aspect. Paddy Reid, who fought against the Japanese with the Royal Artillery in the jungles of Burma, resorted to scouring the countryside, finding odd jobs like picking turnips for farmers to survive. For families, home was often to be found in the slums and never in the one place for too long, nor was there ever the assurance of food on the table. Others were thrown directly into jail. Phil Farrington was put in a Cork military prison at the age of nineteen, caught while returning home on leave, where starvation rations were given to the prisoners who often resorted to eating egg shells. The guards showed nothing but contempt for the inmates, who were often beaten if they didn’t work hard enough. Suicides, somewhat unsurprisingly, were not uncommon. And perhaps more disturbing was the fate of the children of these men. Many were taken away from their destitute parents, whether their fathers had returned alive from the war or not, and were placed into industrial schools at the mercy of daily beatings with rubber truncheons and faced with malnourishment and horrifically unhygienic environments. And according to some reports, those children of British soldiers bore the worst of it all. An ‘SS’ beside their names signified the crimes of their fathers, and marked them out for the most cruel of punishments. Whether this occurred or not, the fact of the matter was that physical and sexual abuse was only the norm, for all children unfortunate enough to be cast into these places. “It’s so ironic that their fathers had fought so hard to enter in one of the most atrocious wars in the history of the human race and had freed all those poor people from the concentration camps in Belsen and yet their own children were subjected to a similar type of concentration camp back at home in Ireland, just because their fathers had ‘deserted’ the Irish Army,” said Irish politician, Mary Ann O’Brien.

“A simple pardon, yeah, we’ve had the Queen over, we’ve had people of the North, the peace,” said the grandson of Phil Farrington, deserter and veteran of D-Day, “and yet we still can’t get the Irish lads that fought for the war, we can’t get them a thank you or a pardon, it’s shocking, shocking that someone comes back from the war, could have given their life, I know many did, that are still blacklisted and then to be treated the way he was. They didn’t run away for a holiday, they weren’t making fortunes and gallivanting around Europe they were running towards guns.” Feelings are still quiet deep on a subject which is only coming back to the surface of discussion in recent years, and it’s not as straightforward an issue as one might think. For starters, those men had, at the base of it all, deserted, and any army in the world which doesn’t punish deserters is simply asking for trouble. If they do nothing, even when those who left went for a good reason (in most cases), what message does that send to those left behind, or those who might join in future years? These were men who had sworn an oath to their country and they effectively abandoned that oath. Some have argued that they probably, in fact, got off lightly. Desertion in other countries at the time would have brought a severe sentence on your head – the Soviet army in particular was infamous for punishing its deserters with execution. Having said that, less than ten years after the war ended, an amnesty for all British deserters was announced by Winston Churchill in 1953, so a precedent for forgiveness was indeed there, whereas in Ireland, the same move has taken 59 years more thus far. And whereas those who deserted from the British army surely did so to save their own skins, those 5,000 Irishmen who deserted the Irish army did so to join another, and to face far greater dangers than they would have confronted in Ireland. Their punishment was indeed severe but again at the base of it all, they had committed a crime against the country they had sworn to defend, breaking the law is breaking the law.

People will argue that their reasons were just and the ends justify the means. But we have no idea how many fought on the side of the Germans rather than the Allies, or what reasons other than fighting against evil persuaded them to abandon their comrades, their oaths and their country. Again, the explanation is the same as to why they were so hated in the first place – the residual effect of the protracted fight against the British, the legacy of their rule in this country and the continued partition of North from South. And, of course, we mustn’t forget the move by both the Irish government and the Catholic Church to create a national identity to go along with our new state following independence – an identity which was nationalist and Catholic in its outlook, an identity which didn’t allow for deviations such as fighting for those who oppressed us for so long. Even today many aren’t aware of this part of our past and in schools our history books are either shamefully short or completely empty concerning those men, their actions and their fate, which, despite the complicated nature of their actions, do not deserve to be confined to the footnotes of history..

John Stout, who served with the Irish Guards and fought at Arnhem and the Battle of the Bulge, is unrepentant. “I know in my heart,” he maintains “that we done the right thing. We fought for small nations and we liberated camps where people had been slaughtered. I would never regret…I would do it all over again.” Perhaps they were right in doing what they did. From the comfort of the 21st century, it’s hard to decide.

Lessons from History – the Eucharistic Congress

It has been 80 years of tumultuous change since the last Eucharistic Congress was held on these shores, way back in 1932. Ireland has a different visage, a new one with which to face the 21st century. The hegemonic power of the Catholic Church has been broken in Ireland, as has that of its bedfellow, Fianna Fáil. Secularism rather than religiosity is beginning to determine our course, as people look to themselves and others to guide their lives rather than to a higher power.

The Eucharistic Congress is a week-long event, organised by the Vatican every four years, sort of like an Olympics for the Catholic Church and its people, a gathering of clergy and the religious laity to celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. 12,000 devotees gathered at the opening ceremony at the RDS last Sunday, where events have been held over the course of the week, around 80,000 attending the conclusion at Croke Park. Of course this Congress has been somewhat tainted by the allegations and revelations concerning the priesthood and child sex abuse over the past number of years and amidst a general decline in faith among its once devoted members. Attendants come from all over the world to participate in the air of unity that the Congress brings to those who join; old and young, male and female, come to renew and strengthen their faith. The week-long celebration is over for another four years, and already the talk concerns the legacy of this year’s Congress; whether it is a new beginning for the Church in Ireland, moving towards the inclusion of a young population who feel alienated by the ceremony and rigour of Catholicism, and the disillusion over the scandals which have rocked the Church and its people.

Today, in the 21st century, outside of the Catholic Church at least, the proceedings are met with (outside of interested Catholics) either a polite interest of complete indifference. But roll back the clock 80 years and you would find a country practically quivering with anticipation, and for many different reasons. For in the life of the infant Free State and in particular the newly ruling Fianna Fáil party, the Eucharistic Congress had an indelible effect. Before Ireland’s independence came in 1922, the Catholic Church had grown quite powerful throughout Ireland. And, when the power and influence of the landlord class finally began to wane, the local priests took up the mantle of community leadership. Ordinary people were far less educated when compared to our time, and people would often look to their clerics for advice and guidance. And while the Catholic hierarchy had often been associated throughout Europe with the rich and the powerful, in Ireland the opposite was true; a priest was one of the ordinary people. Of course, it certainly didn’t hurt that the Church often supported the nationalist movements, barring the more violent ones, while their control over the education system ensured a generation of Irish who viewed Catholicism as more than simply their religion, but an innate part of their Irish identity. With independence came the support from the Church of the Free State, and they condemned the rebellion of the anti-Treatyites, and excommunicated them from the Church. As the years passed, Catholicism cemented its position in the new nation. A narrow vision of the events of the previous decades was propagated with citizens celebrated the freeing of a Catholic people from an oppressive Protestant state, ignoring the fact of the involvement of many Protestants in the nationalist movements. In 1929, elaborate centenary commemorations were organised to celebrate Daniel O’Connell and the achievement of Catholic Emancipation, and in the same year, the Pope finally agreed to send a papal nuncio to Dublin, and to receive in turn an Irish ambassador to the Vatican. Following the establishment of the Free State W.T. Cosgrave presided over the Irish helm, alongside a relatively neutral Cumann na nGaedhael government. Protestants were by no means discriminated against, and indeed many were promoted to positions to ensure the views of the Protestant minority were well represented. In 1932, Catholic bishops received a cause for apprehension with the succession to power of Éamon de Valera, one of those who had been condemned for his part in the Civil War a decade previous. However, they need not have worried as ‘Dev’, as he became known, and his Fianna Fáil government were strongly influenced by the Church and their teachings. Fortunately for the man from Clare, one of the perennial Catholic events of his time would be held only three months following his election, cementing his and his party’s place in Irish political history.

Overall, around one million attended the ceremonies that took place during the week in June of 1932. Following the concluding procession through the streets of Dublin, the papal legate, Cardinal Lauri, sent a telegram to the Pope, Pius XI, declaring that the Irish people were uttering the “cry which sums up the tradition, the faith, the very life of the whole nation: God Bless the Pope.” Dublin’s Congress and its success were very clearly appreciated at the Vatican and the official state newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano featured a favourable account of the week’s events. “Everyone is at his post from the Bishop to the clerical student, from the President of the State to the policeman on the street…It is really nothing short of miraculous – for here we see, after a century and a half of attempted laicisation, an entire people proud of its name, but prouder still of its Roman religion.” Triumphalism has been the word used by historians to describe the display of power on the part of the Catholic Church during the Congress and here was clear evidence that the Irish Free State was a Catholic state, and proud of it. Even at the local level, ordinary people were as much a part as the clerics and politicians at the top. Masses of bunting were strung up across the country, and groups and choirs practised and rehearsed for a year to ensure perfection, culminating in the enormous attendance at the week’s events. One can only imagine how the exclusionary feeling of anyone who had the misfortune to belong to another religion, or to none at all. It is hardly surprising that between this power and their already close-knit relationship with the Irish people, the Catholic Church ensured its hegemonic position in the country for decades to come.

But the good news wasn’t solely for the Catholic Church; in the political arena too were the benefits felt. Despite having been excommunicated for his anti-Treaty Republican activities during the Civil War, de Valera had remained a good Catholic, and had retained friendships with various figures throughout the Catholic hierarchy in the country. An impressive speech given in English, Irish and Latin during the state reception for the papal legate at Dublin Castle benefitted his image favourably, and he kept a high-profile throughout the week’s events. Eventually this helped to win him political appeal and when he called an election six months following the Congress, he was able to transform his minority government into a majority, and he remained in office until 1948 while his party was the largest at each general election from that of 1932 until 2011.

On the more negative spectrum, partition between North and South was further entrenched, and it is easy to see why, contrasting the Catholic Free State with the more traditional Protestant Northern Ireland who had fought for so long to ensure the Papists never gained a foothold in their own country. Some Catholics travelling from North to South were the victims of sectarian attacks, perpetrated by loyalist mobs. For Protestant Ulster, the lavish celebrations commemorated an alien religion; they who elevated individual choice and a personal relationship with God above all. The events in Dublin showed a radically different outlook in the Free State, with a high value placed on community and access to God through the clerical hierarchy. While reports from 1932 suggested that Ireland had never been more unified than during those six days, the reality is that the split between North and South was possibly starker than ever before.

Some 300 people who witnessed the events of 1932 gathered this week in a hotel outside Dublin to reminisce over archive footage of the events which helped to define a generation. Now 92 Liam Cosgrave, son of de Valera’s predecessor W.T. Cosgrave, recalled the celebrations with pride. “It was important for the State that we could do it and do it well,” he said. “It meant an awful lot to the country,” he said. “Remember we were only 10 years with self-government. There was a great turnout of Army and Garda and helpers. It was very well organised.” The effects of the 2012 Congress will unlikely be as far-reaching, considering we live in a nation attempting, to an extent, to shrug off its Catholic past. Machiavelli wrote “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times.” In 2012, we are only now shaking off the legacy of the Catholic Church and the power Fianna Fáil held onto for so long. Hopefully, we don’t make the same mistake twice.

News in Brief-Controversy Reigns Supreme At Government HQ While Irish Fans Mock Merkel

The biggest story this week has to be the publication, by the ESRI, of a report claiming hat four out of ten families would be financially better off on benefits than going out to work. Almost as soon as the news broke fierce denials were issued from the government claiming the report had not been reviewed or approved before being published online.

Although denying they came under pressure from the government the Economic and Social Research Institute later revised their findings, saying the analysis contained in the paper was ‘seriously flawed’, and that a more realistic figure for those families better off on benefits was closer to 10% than 44%.
From the ESRI’s own goals to no goals, sadly for football fans the Euro dream is already over, losing as Ireland did last night to Spain. Here comes the inevitable onslaught of criticism – all those Trap-branded consumer deals better quickly revert to their pre-Euro names as the football manager is now bound for a battering from the pundits.
Some football fans however are having a better time of it. The now famous ‘Angela Merkel Thinks We’re At Work’ flag holders are playing into extra time as photos of their flag have gone viral. Even making it as far as Angela Merkel’s office. Disappointingly though, this time next week, they will be at work.
Irish World War II veterans that were ostracised for absenting from Irish Defence Forces and joining the British Army are to be given an amnesty according to Alan Shatter. Not as an excuse for desertion the amnesty is to reverse rulings put into pace under De Valera that prevented dissenters claiming a service pension or gaining state employment for seven years on their return. Whilst this re-evaluation of the struggles of the armed forces is welcome, just how many WWII veterans are left to enjoy it?
Mick Wallace has dominated the papers this week not only because of a €2.1million outstanding tax bill but also in the debate over Dáil dress code. Apparently his trademark pink t-shirt “because Wallace is worth it” hair isn’t appropriate for the Dáil and instead male politicians will be expected to swap beauty tips in business attire. Shoddy dressing has been largely blamed on independent TD’s such as Wallace who’s refusal to conform to ‘the man’ could see him put in the corner.
Dressing appropriately isn’t an issue for Madonna who when it doubt whips them out, flashing her various bits and bobs whilst on her current European tour. Piers Morgan really took offence to the middle-aged mammary pointing at him from the tabloids branding Madge ‘cringe-worthy’ and ‘desperate’. What a boob.