Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy. ~Ernest Benn

Recent Articles

The Fear in the Broken Wee Women

The Fear in the Broken Wee Women   ‘Irish American News’, Chicago.   “There aren’t going to be any happy endings here.  No one is going to come out of this looking very good.  What were the fathers of these children doing?  Did they just watch and breathe a sigh of relief as their pregnant lover was dragged off to a life of misery and their child was farmed off to whoever would have it?  Were the fathers’ families equally relieved?  Many must be alive now, having gone onto raise families of their own.  Do they sometimes lie there staring into the darkness at three o’clock in the morning?  Or did they buy into the Church’s wicked teachings hook, line and sinker (as much for convenience as anything else) that the Wanton Woman was to blame for her tempting ways and as the descendent of Eve?  Were these children and the unmarried mothers just embarrassments to be locked away lest they ‘shamed’ a country that considered itself to be the land of saints and scholars?” ‘Swimming Upstream’, Irish American News, 2014   “Oh, I can see them clearly to this day.  Just bitteen wee women they were.  Never looking up.  And if ye tried to speak to them they would nearly jump out of their skins, so they would.  The fear was in them, ye see.  The fear was always in them.” The fear was always in them. I’ve ran into my neighbour in Oranmore, Mary Kelly, at the end of this long Sunday the 5th of March, having been to the flower-laying ceremony at Bohermore Cemetery in Galway, where the women of the Magdalene Laundries were being remembered. “Just bitteen wee women.  And always with their heads down to the ground, never looking up, just keeping their eyes on... Full Article →

Rekindling a Love Affair… 40 years on

This article appears in the Chicago ‘Irish American News’ for March, 2017 – their 40th Anniversary issue.   When you say it like that:  forty years ago… Ireland was still something less than two years in my future.  I had finished school and was preparing for my Great Tour of Europe and North Africa.  Happy days of wandering – and by God, they get happier when I look back on them. Then it was a few months of graft back in Ayr, Scotland where I had grown up, as I saved to finally take my hitchhiking trip around Ireland. I had been on holidays to Ireland as a child, of course.  You couldn’t have a proudly Republican father like mine – Tam Brady – and not grow up having heard the songs and stories your whole life.  I can see him yet, sitting in the living room and blasting out his Makem and Clancy records or poring over a book on Irish history. He had even been offered a job at Dublin’s Guinness Brewery in the early 60s; but with two young ones as well as a wife who to this day would never live anywhere but Ayr, one kind of love lost out to a stronger and deeper one.  Never stopped him dreaming, though.  So when I announced my intention of heading for Ireland he was happy out.  Especially since I had never taken the blindest bit of interest in Irish history.  Truth to tell, hearing so much of it at home tended to have the opposite effect.  Human nature. I figured I would spend a few months in Ireland before seeing what else took my fancy.  But this country has a way of getting under your skin – and although I didn’t know it then, I was arriving... Full Article →

The Reverse Robin Hoods of the Irish Health Service

The Reverse Robin Hoods of the Irish Health Service   This article appears in the Chicago ‘Irish American News’ for February, 2017.   “Every single power system manipulates and uses ordinary people to further that system’s own supposedly noble aims.” I’m slightly paraphrasing that spot-on sentiment from the great American film director, Sam Peckinpah. With bitter accuracy he noted: “All the goddamn power systems, all the wheelers and dealers at the top with their gin and fizzes…need guys like you to do their bloodletting while they’re busy making speeches about freedom and progress.  They’re all full of it.  There’s not one power system that cares about a civilian.” We’ve seen the truth of this over and over again since that 1972 interview, back when we still held desperately onto the few vestiges of innocence that we had left.  After all, surely at least some of those in charge of us must be honest and decent and…well, have the good of the ordinary person at heart. In the intervening years since we lost our collective virginity, we have witnessed one power system after another show its feet of clay:  the Church, the Banks, the Judicial…and the Health Service. In Ireland the health system has only this week been shown up — once again — for the shambles it is.  Despite the fact that we actually DO have hard-working and compassionate people on the front line, they are hampered and held back by those who shout that there IS NO MONEY to change things; to speed up appointments for those who are desperately ill; to take the suffering off the trolleys that they can spend days on whilst waiting for a non-existent bed. And there IS money, make no doubt about that.  Money is always something that can be found when our... Full Article →