Non-life-threatening injuries and the scandal of shooting children…

I couldn’t sleep last Thursday night. I live in West Belfast and there was a helicopter hovering right above our house. The noise always reminds me of older times when military helicopters were so common that we almost didn’t hear them anymore. Yes, times have changed…. Except, it seems that I was not the only one not sleeping that night. Around 11 pm a child (we still recognise those under 18 as children, right?) was taken up a side street …

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Kincora: The heart of darkness

Last night’s powerful Channel 4 news report has led to fresh calls for Kincora to be included in the Westminster paedophile inquiry. Richard Kerr, a victim of abuse at Kincora told Channel 4 News that he was taken from the east Belfast home to London where he was molested by members of a VIP paedophile ring. Mr. Kerr alleges that he was abused by “very powerful people” at Elm Guest House and Dolphin Square – locations at the centre of the ongoing inquiry …

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The Pope is still a Catholic but maybe one like John XX111

There’s no doubt of the instant secular and humanist appeal of Pope Francis’s interview with a Jesuist magazine .  The pope has attempted to change the whole direction of modern Catholicism.. Not since Khruschev denounced Stalin at the 20th Communist party conference has there been such a reforming speech-. That was the speech that tore away the veil of official  adulation from  the monster Stalin in 1956 three years after his death,  followed quickly by the expedient execution of mass murderer …

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Community silence starting to break over abuse in Lancashire?

On foot of the conviction of nine Asian men in Liverpool on Monday here’s a long and considered piece by Michael White on the difficulty of tackling a particularly pernicious problem Writing in Tuesday’s Times, Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Rochdale-based Ramadhan Foundation, reports how elders in his own community have shrugged their shoulders at child-sex grooming by young men, sometimes aware that it is shameful, sometimes inclined to keep silent rather than do the BNP’s work for it, …

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Perhaps politicians should check their own houses are in order before attacking the church?

On Saturday, I remember reading Noel Whelan’s sage, but ultimately hopeless, advice to politicians to steer clear of beating up on Cardinal Sean Brady, and shaking my head thinking, why would he think they could ever resist the temptation to get in on the act? As a former FF politico he knows the creature better than most. Yet, there’s no doubt it was worth saying. For one, the Catholic church is not the only organisation that has played an ignominious …

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The Brendan Smith case and the church’s strange relations with the power of law

Just caught up with the latest on the Cardinal Brady story. Whatever way you cut it, it remains deeply disturbing. All the more so for Catholics because of the explicit connection between their faith and the authority of the church. But, I suspect, given the grim detail, only just. One passionate caller to Nolan yesterday morning called Seamus recalled one of the most powerful passages of the New Testament: Matthew 18:6. Look it up in whatever version suits your Catholic …

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Is Executive’s taskforce on institutional abuse any more than awkward can kicking?

I had a presser from Conall McDevitt on the day the Executive announced its task force on historical institutional child abuse which suggested that the announcement fell a long way short of the statutory instrument required to crack what is likely to be very tough nut. In fact the announcement included mention of a statutory instrument. Although I looked for clarification from Conall on what he meant by his statement, though none was forthcoming. But today, Patrick Corrigan (of this …

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Taoiseach’s speech: This is not Rome… this is a republic of laws

A sea-change in Irish government-Catholic Church relations took place yesterday. In the government’s official response to the Cloyne Report, Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave an unprecedented speech to the Dáil, excoriating the Vatican for its efforts to block co-operation with the investigation by civil authorities of clerical child abuse: … 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 …

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Time for a clerical child abuse inquiry in Northern Ireland

Momentum is building for an inquiry into clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland. With four inquiries now completed south of the border – Ferns, Ryan, Dublin and now Cloyne – northern abuse victims are rightly asking: what about us? Their calls have now been echoed by SDLP MLA Conall McDevitt and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: I absolutely believe there should be the same thorough investigations in the northern dioceses as there have been in previous dioceses in the south. We …

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Institutional child abuse: a timely reminder from Geneva

There came a timely reminder from Geneva this week. It got a mention en passant in Mick’s piece earlier, and the Prime Time programme (available on RTE Player until 28 June) does provide an excellent catch-up / analysis, but the subject matter truly merits much closer study. That’s the Concluding Observations by the UN Committee on Torture following its periodic review of Ireland.  There’s lots of good stuff in there  – on the use of Shannon for illegal rendition flights, and …

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Hope for Stoneyford Catholics as main abuser finally revealed as a pederast

It is terrible that the main hope for an end to decades of sectarian abuse in Stoneyford lies in the final conviction of ringleader, criminal, key Orange figure and proven pederast Mark Harbinson. With his long overdue gaoling, hopefully Slugger can close its coverage on the multi-faceted campaign he directed across this small village and further afield for close to 20 years – unless some of his proteges are waiting in the wings to pick up the many crimes he …

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Years of abuse, decades of neglect. Now child abuse survivors want justice

It’s been my privilege over the last eighteen months to work alongside survivors of institutional child abuse in their battle for justice. Since Margaret McGuckin and others started their campaign on behalf of the children – now adults – abused in institutions across Northern Ireland, hundreds of people have come forward with personal stories of sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse. In July 2010 I accompanied some of the survivors to a meeting with the First and deputy First Ministers where they explained …

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McGuinness: Archbishop Martin is providing a way forward..

Deputy First Minister Martin Mc Guinness looks to Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to lead the catholic church out of the grip of child abuse scandals. Mr Mc Guinness has spoken for the first time since Cardinal Sean Brady said he is not quitting. Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister has thrown his weight behind the Archbishop of Dublin as the row over child abuse by some priests rages on. When the story broke in March that Cardinal Sean Brady committed two …

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