Category Archives: Ireland

Horror Of Abandoned Irish Women

I am old enough to recall a time when teenage girls who became pregnant were treated as though the had come into possession of the plague. They were shunned and treated as though possessed with a virus that if allowed to emerge into the air would infect thousands. In my Bronx neighborhood, we referred to a pregnant girl as “going to Chicago” which meant, simply, going to get an abortion. In Ireland, the construction of some new houses has resulted in discovery of murder grounds. Between the 1920s and 1940s the Bon Tecours nuns ran a home for unmarried women who had become pregnant. They delivered the baby in the village of Tuam, then left the baby with the nuns. Villagers recall emaciated young children who were here today and gone tomorrow. Unfortunately, being “gone” did not mean being adopted. They were gone, forever.

House builders uncovered a huge septic tank that contains at least 800 bodies of young children. One elderly villager recalled they called these “illegitimate” children by the name of “Home Babies.” The “Home Baby” was shunned by other children and beaten by nuns. We now know, they were starved or beat to death.

The horror is how could nuns behave in this manner? I am baffled. Perhaps, Pope Francis will visit this site and pray for the souls of these unfortunate children. There are simply no words to describe such behavior to children.

St. Patrick Day Parade In Trouble

I was born and raised in the slums of New York City and if there is anything one quickly learns is that one must not mess with the Irish politicians who ran the city. I saw movies in which wonderful Irish priests solved problems and helped poor kids box their way out of poverty with a few good blows to their butts. Each year there was the wonderful St. Patrick Parade which allowed men and women to drink their full of beer and whiskey and all were happy. But, these days there are groups like the Boston Mass Equality which want to march carrying a banner that proclaims to the world: LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL TRANSGENDER VETERANS. The Allied War Veterans Council had no problem with gay and lesbians in the parade, but just wanted them to march without informing the world of their sexual orientation. For some reason, Mass Equality refused.

Mayor Walsh will not march unless all those who are gay are also allowed to march and carry whatever damn signs they desire. Organizers emphasized at least they HAD talked with gay folk, and that was a first, and they just “will not allow anyone to march who expresses harmful or inappropriate messages.”

I guess we wait until next year to get dead drunk and be happy!

Unresolved Troubles In Ireland

Ah, there is still hope in the United States, thank God there are always the Irish to make we Americans understand the presence of people who are even crazier than a nation which contains members of the Tea Party. I wrote my MA thesis in 1956 about the conflict between Protestant and Catholic Irish folk who have been in conflict for over a few hundred years. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland have been engaged in “talks” for longer than most reading these words have been alive. American diplomat, Richard Haass has been the negotiator attempting to resolve issues between the opposing groups, but he finally made clear they simply are unable to compromise on important issues of state and security. So, what are these issues that tear apart people?

1. Who murdered whom during the Troubles when there was armed conflict and people were being killed by the Irish Republican Army and the British army.

2. Which routes can Irish and Çatholics use when marching.

3. Which flags can be flown.

As one negotiator put it, “the biggest disappointment of this process has been the refusal to face up to the issue of flags.”

I think it is time to send in John Boehner!!

Irish Taliban Arrives

I was raised in a world in which Irish people were dedicated supporters of democracy and the right of people to enjoy freedom of religion as well as oppose forces of hatred. Union leaders like Mike Quill fought for human rights and would never support forces of hatred toward those who wanted the right to live in peace. New reports from Ireland indicate members of the Irish Republican Army are linking up with the Taliban to secure mortars and rocket launchers that would shoot down planes. The IRA apparently has decided to join with the Taliban and get into the business of placing hate as the number one place on the agenda of Irish freedom. Frankly, the very concept of the IRA connected to the Taliban makes no sense to those such as myself who always wanted Ireland to enjoy a democratic society which secured rights to all people in Ireland, Catholic or Protestant.

One wonders if some IRA folk joined the British army in order to go to Afghanistan and obtain military training and equipment which could be returned to the green shores of Ireland. How did we ever reach a stage in which the IRA was now a killing buddy of the Taliban??

No To Abortion?

The act of abortion is among the oldest ideas in human history. It was known and practiced in the time of Jesus Christ and continued to be part of the culture of most societies. Abortion stemmed from social issues as well as economic when food supplies became limited. Ireland does not allow an abortion under any conditions even when the act of having a baby might result in death of the mother. Finally, The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill was brought up for a vote in the Irish parliament. It resulted from the death of Avita Halappanavar who died due to refusal of  doctors in a hospital to abort the foetus and allow her to live. Her husband was told that termination was not allowed because “Ireland is a Catholic country.:

Debate on the bill has torn apart political parties since many members of parliament are violently opposed to any form of abortion even if refusing would result in death of the mother. There is a clause in the bill which allows the mother  to seek an abortion on grounds that if not given she would commit suicide. The European Court of Human Rights argues that Ireland violates EU laws which allow certain conditions for an abortion such as a woman who will die if not granted one.

Forgotten European Youth

Among the tragedies of Europe’s dance with austerity has been a dramatic rise in unemployment throughout the region. An estimated 50% of young Spaniards lack jobs and similar figures are evident in Greece or Italy or even Sweden. Hundreds of Swedish young boys and girls went on a rampage through the streets of Stockholm showing their anger at being ignored and having their lives put on hold. They set fire to over 300 cars, burned down a restaurant and threw stones through store windows. There are even reports of a police station being burned to the ground. The initial outbreak most probably arose from police killing a 69 year -old man who was wielding a machete. Young people felt the police over-reacted.

It is time for Europe to abandon the austerity tactic and go back to some old fashioned John Keynes stimulus to the economy. Sweden might borrow the Depression CCC which placed one million young Americans to work on infrastructure tasks. FDR even pushed through bills that paid artists to paint or musicians to play music of people to put on plays. Provide meaningful work and riots will cease and desist.

Future For Youth?

Four years ago in most European nations young people were hopeful that with further education there would be ample opportunities to secure a good job.Today, the unemployment rate in Spain or Greece is over 50% for young people with scant prospect of changes during the coming decade of their life. Stylia Kampani, now works as an unpaid intern for an important Athens newspaper. What happens after the end of her internship is unknown. “None of my friends believes that we have a futureor will live a normal life. That wasn’t quite the case four years ago.” She is now part of a lost generation which is doomed to low wages, uncertan job security and loss of control over individual lives. European nations have not learned the lesson of America’s Depression when the federal government created jobs for youth like the CCC. It funded the theater, opera, symphony orchestras and provided many job opportunities in society.

Germany recruits some  skilled workers from Greece or Spain. In the UK anger is directed at immigrants because the government has done nothing to offer youth a chance for the future. Oh, it has tripled the cost of college. Youth needs to go beyond protest and organize political parties which pledge to create jobs, and, in so doing create hope. If governments refuse to act to create jobs, the end result will be emergence of neo-fascist political parties based on hate an violence.

Common Sense In Ireland

The Catholic Church insists that government can not order it to allow those employed to have access to pills or abortion because it is the right of the church to decide the lives of people. A few months ago in Ireland, which   forbids  abortion, a young woman from India died of septicemia because doctors refused to terminate a pregnancy in order to save her life. She was told, “this is a Catholic country” and so, die. The Irish government came under a storm of anger from other European nations and has now made changes in the law. Abortion will no longer be a crime,  and there doctors will be provided guidelines under which they can perform an aborton.

Finally, Ireland is in accord with the European Court of Human Rights. In America the issue of whether religion controls laws is still not resolved. If one adhered to ideas of the Catholic Church, then anyone who opposes use of doctors and medicine could claim his religion prevents him from providing health care to his employees. The history of America is based on separationof church from state. No reason to change this tradition.

Beloved Ireland Still Lacks Peace

I was raised with Irish people, married two nice Irish lasses and wrote my masters    degree on Irish history. I spent hours talking with Irish longshoremen on the docks of New York City who had fought in Irish wars for independence from the hated Englishmen. A trip to Ireland allowed me to bask in memories of “the troubles” and touch bullet holes in the Post Office building. I thought “the troubles” were finally over, but there still remain Irishmen who will only accept a completely united Irish land.

On the other hand there are Irishmen who hate the Catholics and want an end to any thought of uniting the entire island. Loyalists have resumed violence against those seeking compromise and peace. Recently Loyalist thugs attempted to murder an MP who was fighting for reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. Two dozen of these “Loyalists” have been arrested for throwing bombs and attempting to beat up not only Catholics but Northern Irish men and women who simply want “the troubles” to finally end!

“This Is A Catholic Country”

I endeavor in life to respect the views and ideas of those who have deep and personal feelings about their religion. An incident in an Irish hospital in Ireland is now shaking the ideas of many Irish people concerning the issue of abortion. Savita Halappanavar and her husband had come to live and work in Ireland where he was a dentist. She was admitted to Galway University Hospital and was 17 weeks pregnant. She suffered a miscarriage and septicaemia when it became apparent that she was very ill. Although she was miscarrying doctors refused to carry out a medical termination because the foetus heartbeat was present.

Her husband begged the doctors for a termination but was told, “this is a Catholic country” and therefore any form of abortion was illegal. One can assume this means that even when a life of the mother is at risk, she must die in order that the foetus has a heart beat. There is something wrong about this situation. This is an issue of death as well as of life.