THE LABOUR PARTY CLLR FOR YOUGHAL, CLLR TARA O’CONNELL has welcomed the progress being made this week in the Dáil on the Microenterprise Loan Fund Bill. The legislation has been put forward to assist microenterprises that are viable but have been refused funding from their bank.
“There are many microenterprises the length and breadth of the country that are successful and viable but need money to grow their business. Many of these businesses do not fill the conventional criteria the banks require in order to lend to them and the Microenterprise Loan Fund has been created to help these exact people.
“A microenterprise is a business employing 10 or less people and they are the very businesses we see in our town and villages and that are a part of our communities. Without the support they need, many of these businesses will not survive so this fund is to be welcomed.
“The fund will lend over €90 million to 5,500 microenterprises, creating 7,700 jobs over a ten year period and the loan facility will be operational later in the year. Start-ups, existing businesses and sole traders will be eligible to apply to the fund and loans of up to €25,000 will be provided.
“Labour in Government promised to follow a growth agenda and to create jobs and while this loan fund may be a small step it is nonetheless a significant one. We will continue to work hard to support our indigenous businesses and I welcome the fact that this legislation is making steady progress through the Dáil ahead of its implementation later in the year.”
STATEMENT BY Tara O’Connell Labour Party Cllr for Youghal July 14th 2012
For more information contact Cllr Tara O’Connell at 0858877423
THE LABOUR PARTY CLLR FOR YOUGHAL, CLLR. TARA O’CONNELL has said that a Yes vote in the upcoming Stability Treaty referendum on May 31st is vital if we want to stabilise our economy and increase investor confidence in Ireland.
“We all want Ireland to recover from the current economic crisis but the only way to ensure that this happens is by creating a stable eurozone and creating economic growth. By voting Yes to the Stability Treaty we are creating certainty and boosting investor confidence in Ireland.
“A No vote will only create uncertainty and will not allow us allow us access to funding in the future, should we need it. Such an outcome is unthinkable and a complete leap into the dark. We cannot gamble with Ireland’s future in such a way.
“While we realise that this Treaty is not the only solution to our economic woes, it is nonetheless an important step on our road to recovery. It will put in place good housekeeping rules that will ensure that the financial mismanagement that we saw in the past cannot happen again.
“The Irish people are faced with an important decision on May 31st and I am advocating that they vote Yes as I believe it is the only way we can bring about certainty and secure Ireland’s economic recovery.”
Speaking yesterday following a protest in Cork against the budget Cllr Michelle Hennessey (SF) said “In February the people of Ireland voted for a change in way this country was run. After the release of this budget there is no doubt but this government is following the same path of austerity and inequality as the last. The decision to cut the fuel allowance by €120 is scandalous and will cost lives. This cut will hit older people and those with disabilities worst. This follows cuts of up to 25% to fuel allowance and the household benefits package imposed by the Government in September. And it comes at a time when fuel prices are increasing sharply.
By cutting Back-to-School Allowance, Child Benefit, payments for lone parents on CE , reducing the age cap to seven for One Parent Family Allowance, cutting the part-time jobseekers’ payments, increasing the tenants’ contribution to rent allowance and by cutting CE supports, the minister is taking food out of the mouths of the poorest in society.
The cuts are primarily on the neediest in society. There is still protection for the higher paid in the country. The promise of fairness and equality did not last long with the newly elected. It is particularly disappointing that the labour party are standing over and implementing these savage cuts. A family on social welfare is being asked to contribute more than a family with over 150000 euro coming into the household. We are calling on people to contact your local TDs and voice your concern at these cuts.”
Labour TD Sean Sherlock attends special meeting of Youghal Town Council. – By Christy Parker
CORK EAST LABOUR TD SEAN SHERLOCK discussed a range of local issues during a specially convened meeting with Youghal Town Council on Monday October 24th. Deputy Sherlock is Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Jobs & Innovation and Department of Education & Skills with responsibility for Research & Innovation.
Due to various circumstances, just four councillors attended the 10 am assembly, they being Cllrs Mary Linehan-Foley, Eoin Flanagan, Liam Burke and Tara O’Connell. Town Clerk Liam Ryan and assistant town clerk Helen Mulcahy, were also present.
The occasion marked the first attendance and formal co-option of Tara O’Connell, who was succeeding her late father Tommy in the chamber. All present in turn offered words of welcome and encouragement to the new member. For her part the councillor thanked the council executive and staff for its support during the occasion of her father’s passing. She also expressed gratitude to the council for providing a guard of honour at her late father’s funeral. She looked forward greatly to doing her best in the chamber “for the town, for my family and for my dad.”
Deputy Sherlock then explained that he was liaising with all town councils in his constituency, while reassuring that he would do all within his capability to advance Youghal’s interests. He drew comparisons with his native Mallow in terms of both areas being RAPID towns “lacking in inward investment.” He added that he would be meeting IDA Chief Executive Barry O’Leary later that week to discuss the issue of investment in such towns, particularly given Mr. O’Leary’s recent statement that investment was primarily focused in the larger urban areas. “We need to know why this is,” he observed.
Broadband and IDA:
The deputy stressed the importance of infrastructure, including broadband, being upgraded to meet and attract investment. Asked by Mayor Eoin Coyne if there was a national strategy towards such broadband infrastructure, Deputy Sherlock said there was a proposal through Cork Chamber of Commerce to develop a transatlantic cable link through a consortium. It was being proposed that the State would meet part of the cost. The venture would have widespread communications and economic benefits, he noted, to the entire southern region.
In terms of industrial initiatives, the deputy felt that small units – employing 10-20 maximum- was now the realistic aspiration. He believed that towns like Youghal were best suited to acquiring such models as start-up companies aka the Rubicon Centre in CIT.
Town Clerk Liam Ryan said the IDA’s apparent policy of focusing on larger urban areas was “very concerning” regarding school leavers and college graduates who could not see a future in Youghal beyond the struggling retail sector. He inquired whether there was any advance from the IDA on the Amgen site and was told that “it seems to be off the agenda.”
Deputy Sherlock said he envisaged tourism as a lynchpin in Youghal’s development and viewed it as being open to practical, day to day assistance from central government under local strategy initiatives as against being part of the national economic strategy. Mr. Ryan said Youghal had benefited somewhat under the economic strategy but that RAPID statistics showed persistent underlying problems regarding education, unemployment, etc.
The town clerk argued that the provision of a secondary treatment and waste water plant as crucial to Youghal’s tourism development, especially given its reliance on blue flag status. He said the present situation offered no guarantee that the three flags in residence will remain. The deputy promised to investigate the status of the project within the Department of the Environment.
Deputy Sherlock said education was fundamental to improving job prospects and asked whither Youghal’s status on night classes, courses etc. Mr Ryan said the uptake on such classes in Youghal was unfortunately quite small and presented a challenge. In the course of some discussion, it was agreed that Midleton, with its immense variety and quality of courses, was attracting Youghal people to the detriment of local provision. The visitor agreed to seek out ideas on improving the balance through talks with the VEC and SECAD. Cllr Burke said the town needed a dedicated adult education officer, which the visitor noted.
The town clerk asked if it was possible to increase the number of Fás course deployed in the town from the current total of three, which incorporates about 45 workers. He said most Fás workers were engaged in sports and heritage projects, while an envisaged course in stonemasonry seemed to have been shelved. The deputy asked whether there had been any engagement by Youghal Town Council with Rubicon technological advances centre at CIT on heritage matters. “The Enterprise Centre has,” said Mr. Ryan, adding that, while the centre is doing quite well, remained interested in acquiring spin-off benefits from Rubicon as part of its expansion plans, which also included arts and crafts.
Mr. Ryan further reminded that the town was particularly dependent on the town council’s involvement in job creation and tourism, etc. and that the proposed restructuring or diminishment of local government could seriously jeopardise that. He cited Aura, the Enterprise centre and heritage projects by example. “The county council could not provide the same level of service,” he advised. Cllr Burke echoed the sentiments. “Duly noted,” was the measure of the deputy’s reply.
Deputy Sherlock then said that the Rubicon is working on mp3 wireless technological to augment the Mallow heritage trail. He proposed that he accommodate contact between Youghal Town Council and Rubicon by way of investigating the potential for Youghal in that field.
Mayor Coyne again asked for an update as to any national strategy to enhance rural areas for enterprise investment. Deputy Sherlock again stressed that increasing the level of education attainment in Rapid towns particularly, was the first step necessary. He also suggested that a certain degree of emigration/travel was inherent in the Irish post-graduate practice as an island nation. That aside, he repeated his view that smaller units of 10-20 employees –as against large factories- was the likely blueprint for the future in such towns. “The Small Business Advisory Group is currently trying to make it more attractive for those within the SMEs to employ more people, through easier regulation, etc,” he added. “We want to make Youghal attractive to investors. Higher education attainment and proper facilities and infrastructure can do that. If a town can develop an academic it helps that town a lot, such as Youghal and maybe CIT, for example.”
Supporting that theme, Cllr Linehan Foley recalled that WIT students had made an immense impression a year previous when charged with a project to create investment and development opportunities for Nealon’s Quay. (One wonders where those inventive and inspired ideas now rest.). Deputy Sherlock said he would endeavour to establish some academic links forthwith, bearing in mind also that the town has the extra advantage of strong interaction with west Waterford.
Trains and boats:
Cllr Burke advocated re-opening the Youghal-Midleton-Cork rail link, arguing that various reports had insisted that only then could Youghal reach its full potential. He said Cobh and Midleton operate rail services to Cork and Youghal could do likewise. “CIE has indicated support, providing the State funded it,” he observed. Duly noted.
Mr Ryan wondered if the deputy could investigate whither stands the funding strategy for marinas, while emphasising that Youghal was strategically placed for such a development and was considered thus within the South Cork Maritime Strategy. Deputy Sherlock sought information on applications for foreshore licences that had already been mooted. Mr. Ryan said there seemed to be a lack of funding schemes now available and a developer had not proceeded with applications for previous schemes. He proceeded that it remains a town council priority to provide a marina and that a number of sites had been identified. He needed an update on funding possibilities, he said before outlining the immense economic potential for the local and national economies by the installation of such a facility.
The deputy didn’t see the railway line being re-opened in the near future due to economic circumstances. Regarding the marina he knew there “were certain issues” surrounding the issue of foreshore licences but would now “raise the issue” with the relevant minister.
Cllr Burke also asked whether funding could be accessed to ensure remedial work on the sea wall on Youghal promenade. “It has been pinpointed as a top priority within Cork County Council,” added the town clerk, adding that a funding application had been forwarded to the Dept of Environment. “About a third of it has been completed and the tender stage has been reached or the second third,” he added. Duly noted by Deputy Sherlock, the meeting then concluded.
TARA O’CONNELL officially co-opted during minister’s visit to Youghal town council. – By Christy Parker
YOUGHAL TOWN COUNCIL formally accepted the co-option of Labour Town Councillor Tara O’Connell at a special meeting Monday morning (October 24th). The meeting coincided with the visit of Labour Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation and Department of Education & Skills, Sean Sherlock. The minister fielded several questions from councillors and town clerk on matters relevant to Youghal, including tourism and education initiatives, marina funding and employment strategies.
TARA O’CONNELL SUCCEEDS HER DAD ON YOUGHAL TOWN COUNCIL
By Christy Parker
TARA O’CONNELL has been selected to succeed her late father Tommy on Youghal Town Council. The co-option took place unopposed at a special meeting of the Youghal Labour Party in the Gate bar on Thursday night October 6th. Labour Party official George Cummins oversaw proceedings which were also attended by local branch Secretary Sean Rush, party members, the O’Connell family and friends. Mr Cummins extended his condolences to the O’Connell family on Tommy’s passing last month following a brief illness.
For Tara, 39 and the eldest of two girls in a family of four children, the occasion was one of pride laced with poignancy. “I was very proud to succeed my dad but very sad he wasn’t there to see it,” she recalls, “particularly as it was something he always wanted for me.” In the event a prepared speech she had scribed went unread. “I just felt too emotional when the moment came,” she says.
Tara traces her interest in politics to an early age and her dad’s influence. “I remember canvassing with my father when I was about eight and loving the razzamatazz of it all,” she remembers. “I also had a teacher whose dad was a politician and that intrigued me also.
In time the issues and practice of politics formed a driving force in her life and she duly joined Sinn Féin as had her father before his transference to Labour. After many years in SF, including a stint as chairwoman, she again followed her dad’s footsteps, this time into the Labour party. “I felt their social policies better suited my own ideas on social issues,” she explains. Much of her time in Sinn Féin coincided with the conflict in Northern Ireland and she remains a Republican at heart. “I am delighted to see peace in the Six Counties,” she states, “but I very much support the goal of a united Ireland.”
In latter times, as Chair of the Save Youghal Ambulance group, Tara has been to the forefront of the fight to retain an efficient ambulance service in the town. There are on-going negotiations proceeding on that issue, she says” but we hope to issue an update shortly.”
On a broad level, Tara strongly advocates fairness and equality and would trumpet the cause of the less well off, the disenfranchised and the marginalised. “I feel that people on the lower end of the economic scale –the ordinary workers and the unemployed- always take the brunt of things and the latest cutbacks once again exemplify that,” she states.
Her new role as town councillor, Tara “will be following up issues raised by father,” including his rent/rates reduction initiative and a feasibility study into restoring drift net salmon fishing on the Blackwater. “But I very much intend to make my own impact as well,” she insists.
A single mum of a teenager daughter, the new councillor sees Youghal’s future best served by self-sustainability. “Large industrial investment is not going to come here in the foreseeable future,” she believes, “so we must to rely on ourselves. That’s why groups like the Youghal Concerns Citizens set such a great example. We have all got to work together to build a better future. I believe at this moment, tourism and heritage projects, along with promoting and assisting the establishment and development of small, individual businesses, offers our best options.”
Pragmatically, she realises that town councils have limited, ever-diminishing power. “That’s why I have always found it unfair that some people automatically blame the council when anything goes wrong. Sure they make mistakes like everyone else, but I think all the councillors have the good of the own at heart and try to do the best they can within the limits imposed on them.”
That may all change for better or worse very soon. In about seven weeks Environment Minister Phil Hogan is set to present to the cabinet his Local Government reform proposals. Things are almost sure to change and maybe change radically. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” says Tara. Meanwhile she intends to make every moment count on behalf of the town that her late father loved dearly and was staunchly proud to serve.
Large crowds attended the funeral services of former town councillor Tommy O’Connell over the weekend. The town was shocked and saddened on Friday 23rd as news spread that the popular and outspoken personality had died suddenly aged 66, at Cork University Hospital. Mr. O’Connell had battled against illness for some months but his indomitable spirit and joie de vivre had never diminished.
Tommy’s passing came only days after his official letter of resignation on health grounds had been read to September’s town council meeting. The members in turn paid tribute to him and it is without doubt that he would have expressed a wry if good-humoured response the words of endearment from colleagues with whom he would never shirk from crossing swords if the occasion demanded it.
Tommy O’Connell first served as a Youghal Sinn Féin councillor in 1974, before resigning from the party four years later. He topped the poll as an Independent in 1979, joined Labour in 1981 and was re-elected under that party‘s banner in 1985. However he resigned from local politics a year later when his family emigrated to London for some years. In October 2010 he was co-opted onto Youghal Town Council a replacement for Labour colleague Donie Daly who resigned in controversial circumstances when the monthly council meetings were re-scheduled for Tuesday mornings. That co-option was withdrawn by the Labour party on protocol and procedural grounds. The councillor had to wait until the following February to be officially re-instated.
Tommy’s council chamber jousts with opposing views and factions were never shirked or half-hearted but his honesty and conviction inevitably earned the respect of friend and foe alike. Equally, regardless of the intensity of a political argument, he never carried his gripe into the personal domain and within minutes of a council meeting. A man blessed with a wonderful and mischievous sense of humour, he would engage in friendly chat and banter over a post-meeting cup of tea with all and sundry.
Mr. O’Connell’s contribution to the council stretched far beyond independence of mind and individual pursuit. His love for Youghal and its people was consistent and deep and he applied insight, reasoning and intelligence to that commitment.
Ever capable of fashioning a new initiative, Tommy frequently shone light on dark areas of economic and political stagnation. In recent times he advanced two prominent proposals to benefit the town. He sought a feasibility study into the re-introduction of drift net salmon fishing. He also proposed 50% rent & rate reductions for new businesses ion premises that had been idle for two years or more, which is the subject of on-going consideration by the town council and the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.
The many who mourn his passing will remember Tommy O’Connell with a fondness that was well-earned and deserved in a community from which he asked for little and to whom he gave a lot. May he rest in peace; preferably of course with a fresh pint amongst former colleagues and friends who had pre- deceased him!
PAST, PRESENT AND PLANNED FUTURE OF YOUGHAL SLUDGE TREATMENT PLANT.
By Christy Parker
Youghal Waste Disposal & Recycling Ltd acquired a 35-year lease on the 3.5 acre site at Foxhole from landowners Youghal Town Council, before subletting it to AVR Environmental Solutions Ltd in 2002. AVR was a joint venture operated by AVR-Safeway in Fermoy and SWS Natural Resources in Bandon. According to documents researched by Cllr Barbara Murray, Youghal Town Council sought legal advice amidst suggestions that the acquisition reflected ‘change of use.’ The advice given was that the argument would not hold water, (no pun intended!) “Furthermore,” says Cllr Murray, “if individual councillors were to take action that halted the project, they could be open to personal litigation. This arises from case law whereby councillors ‘are not entitled to disregard technical advice from the executive and where there must be technical advice in support their resolution in circumstances where the executives’ advice is to the contrary.’
Eras Eco Ltd acquired the plant in 2006 and commenced its operations in August 2007. Eras Eco Ltd consists of a Sludge Drying and Waste Recovery/Transfer Facility, with licence to manage a maximum 70,000 tons p.a. of commercial and industrial non-hazardous waste, up to 30,000 tons p.a. of non-hazardous sewerage sludge and industrial sludge from water treatment plants and a maximum of 10,000 tons p.a. of landfill leachate. According to the company, up to 500 tons of sludge for drying and 200 tons of already dried sludge can “typically be expected to be held” on site during operations. The company is solely owned by Ormonde Organics, whose headquarters reside in Portlaw, Co. Waterford.
The planned upgrade would see the installation of an AquaCritox sewage and sludge treatment system, developed by Cork-based Super Critical Fluids International (SCFI). An aerobic digester, capable of processing 20,000 tons of suitable sludge would also be incorporated. US industrial Rockwell has teamed with SCFI to market the system. Claims that it may surpass and replace incineration landfill systems, bringing immense social and financial cost savings in waste treatment, while producing more energy than it uses, means a very keen interest is undoubtedly being maintained by government in Ireland and beyond.
According to SCFI, operating manager David Kerr, AquaCritox is ‘an odourless, full destruction rather than reduction-based technology. ’He describes it as using ‘super critical water oxidation to destroy organic waste without generating hazardous emissions,’ adding that, ‘it generates renewable energy and recovers by-products, such as phosphorus and carbon dioxide, for resale, while destroying 99.99% of wet organic wastes in an economical, sustainable process.’
The technology purports to treat waste with water temperatures in excess of 374oc and pressurised to 221 bar. ‘This moves water into a super critical condition,’ explains Mr Kerr, ‘where it is neither a liquid nor a gas, but a homogenous dense fluid. The water becomes a universal solvent for gases and organic compounds and by adding an oxygen supply, a very rapid and complete oxidation reaction takes place. This generates thermal energy while also converting all organic materials in sewage sludge into carbon dioxide, nitrogen and clean water. The nitrogen can be released into the atmosphere and the carbon dioxide may be sold on for industrial applications or dry ice production. Our solution is fast, safe and environmentally friendly, producing more energy than it actually uses and the rapid reaction also means that our plants are small in actual size,’ he concludes.
Interestingly, a report posted only last week on www.environmental.com reads that Eras Eco Ltd. “has placed the first commercial order of SCFI’s AquaCritox® technology, which provides a unique process for the sustainable destruction of organic wet waste. The system will be installed at the Eras Eco plant in Foxhole, Youghal in December 2011, and forms part of a €10m (£8.5m) investment to improve the environmental credentials of the site.”
YOUGHAL has received rare good news on the economic front with an Aldi store forming part of two planning applications lodged this month for developments at the old Seafield Technical Textiles Ltd site. Both applications are being made by Seafield Partnership, understood to be a consortium of local investors.
Seafield Textiles closed in 2005, ending decades of textile making at the premises. It stands at the Cork exit from the town and adjacent to Perks amusements arcade, which itself occupies a premises that was formerly Blackwater Cottons.
The site is intended for development in two distinct areas and which are the subject of separate planning applications. The larger part of the site comprises 20.46 acres and fronts onto the upper Strand. This is to be developed as a discount retail store (Aldi), three single-storey retail units of 934 sq. metres and a single-storey fast food outlet with drive-through facility of 285 sq. metres.
The rest of the site- to the rear of this retail development- is to be developed as five commercial units, with a car park totalling 215 (including eight disabled) spaces along with three bicycle parking racks of six spaces each in three different locations.
The proposed development includes the widening of the entrance to a public roadway that traverses the site from the R634 to a new council housing estate in the area. The existing factory building will be demolished with part façade retention and demolition also of a single dwelling to the east of the factory entrance gate and replacement with a mixed commercial development.
The existing access from the upper Strand to the former factory will be widened and resurfaced and a second access will utilise the existing public local authority road leading to the adjacent housing estate along the eastern side boundary, which is to be upgraded and widened from 5.6 metres to 7.5 metres.
Aldi’s arrival would raise Youghal’s supermarket numbers to four, with Supervalu near the town centre and Lidl and Tesco at the Waterford exit.
Youghal Town Clerk Liam Ryan said the application was particularly good news in the present times. Cllr Sammy Revins said it would help revitalise the strand area, where “you can’t even by a cup of coffee” and where Cork County Council does not even entertain a casual trading licence for its beach at Claycastle.
The plans are undergoing public consultation until Monday August 8th.
The Taoiseach’s speech to the Dáil on the Cloyne report
I move the motion.
The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.
It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children.
But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.
Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago.
And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism …….that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.
The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”……the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.
This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.
The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose.
The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.
Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.
Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…
There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.
While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence.
A day post-publication, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza.
The Tánaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same.
The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican.
The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.
I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the
State’s authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.
Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports. This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests…. some of them old… others struggling to keep their humanity….even their sanity……..as they work so hard…..to be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes…… communities… the human
Church & State
But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.
This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011.
A Republic of laws…..of rights and responsibilities….of proper civic order….. where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version….. of a particular kind of ‘morality’….. will no longer be tolerated or ignored.
As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church.
Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.
In the name of God. But for the good of the institution.
When I say that through our legislation….. through our Government’s action to put Children First…….those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation…..to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility, are enshrined and enacted …..always….always…. for their good.
Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.
This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this.
I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.
I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that
all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board’s Annual Report. Progress has been in no small measure to the commitment of Ian Elliott and others.
There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk
management of Priests against whom allegations have been made. Nevertheless, the behaviour of Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan show how fragile even good standards and policies are to the weakness and willful disregard of those who fail to give the right priority to safeguarding our children.
But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.
The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years. The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values
children and their safety.
For too long Ireland has neglected its children.
Just last week we saw a case of the torture of children, within the family, come before the courts. Just two days ago, we were repulsed by the case of a Donegal registered sex offender…and school caretaker…
Children and young adults reduced to human wreckage. Raising questions and issues of serious import for State agencies.
We are set to embark on a course of action to ensure the State is doing all it can to safeguard our children.
Minister Shatter is bringing forward two pieces of legislation – firstly, to make it an offence to withhold information relating to crimes against children and vulnerable adults; and secondly, at long last, to allow for the exchange of ‘soft information’ on abusers.
As Taoiseach, I want to do all I can to protect the sacred space of childhood and to restore its innocence.
Especially our young teenagers, whom I believe to be children. Because regardless of our current economic crisis, the children of this country are, and always will be, our most precious possession of all.
Safeguarding their integrity and innocence must be a national priority. This is why I undertook to create a Cabinet ministry for Children and Youth Affairs.
The legislation ‘Children First’ proposes to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child.
Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”
As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which
the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.
Not purely, or simply or otherwise.