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Back to the Future


 

The light is fading on New Year’s Day as this is written, but it is not intended as a song at twilight but as a promise on the dawning of a New Year- I’ll keep the Blog up to date in 2014! After what we’ve been through it would be permissible to open the New Year simply with a salvo directed at the decision takers who have brought such misery on our people. But I feel that there is room for a modest optimism at the impending arrival of economic crocuses to join the floral ones on their way.

There are damn few reasons for optimism, floral or otherwise emanating from Northern Ireland of course. I didn’t expect the recent talks to produce anything.  One of the sharp images I have in my mind from the time of the Good Friday Agreement is of Geoffrey Donaldson driving angrily from Stormont as the Good Friday Agreement neared completion because of his opposition to its contents. I couldn’t see him driving towards a New Year’s Eve agreement with a smile on his face and he’s not the worst of them.  The reality is that in Dublin a Fine Gael led government preoccupied with economic problems and in London a conservative one not too bothered about the north anyway both took their feet off the accelerator of Northern Ireland progress.

London and Dublin should have been at the talks despite Richard Hass’ presence, and that of the attractive Megan O’Sullivan one did not have the feeling that here was the full monty.  We’re in a season of orange commemoration reaching from the signing of the covenant to the Larne gun running and a symbolism of the Loyalist camp at Holy Cross monastery in north Belfast should not be over looked.

The camp is of course an extraordinary provocation to the nationalists of that area whose children had to be escorted to school each day through cordons of chanting loyalists, but if any attempt were made to remove the camp by force what would be the chances of the survival of the monastery itself. They haven’t gone away you know even if Fine Gael and Labour chose to conduct themselves as though they had.

Back to our own economic and psychological state in the republic while I said at the outset and say again that a little guarded optimism is justified I consider it utterly opprobrious that those responsible for the economic treason are still walking about scot free while suicide rates soar, our young people shoal out of the country and able bodied valuable men and women gaze dull eyed a the dole queue and the emptiness of their future. The administrators, the bankers, the politicians and the senior figures in Ireland’s small but terribly influential financial community should be in jail by now not free to make golfing jaunts to the sun or to transfer some of their ill-gotten wealth to their wives.

It’s an open secret that the financial people are in league with the legal profession – important sections of which also invested in bank shares and property busts. Each side props up the other in an outrageous, but hitherto successful, attempt to defeat justice. To paraphrase Padraig Pearse ‘until prison holds these men Ireland will never be at peace’.  

However not to end on a sour note may I wish all my readers a Happy New Year, and one in which the flowers of economic revival really do bloom.


Next, Bring on the Bankers


 

Would it be too much to hope that the Public Accounts Committee, having managed to bring the disgraceful story of the ‘Top up payments’ to Fat cats in the Central Remedial Clinic to public airing that the government now finally grasp the nettle of achieving the same result from the Bankers?

It was entirely appropriate that the Irish public should get the airing in the week that the Troika left Ireland for there should never have been a reason for them to come in the first place. The Central Remedial Clinic took money by way of pay increases to the executives which people had subscribed to the charity in the belief that they were assisting the afflicted. 

The bankers, in pursuit of their bonuses racked up incredible debts with reckless disregard for their fiduciary responsibility towards the public, towards shareholders, towards their staff and towards the consequences for an entire generation of Irish people of their reckless trading.

The reason they have got away with this so far lies in the one criticism the Troika made about Ireland’s response to the crisis – the legal profession remains unreformed.  And it is the intertwining of the lawyers with the Irish political system which has so far protected the bankers from the wrath of the public. A bill to be introduced by the government shortly may do something to bridge the gap between law and justice.

But as this is written not merely have none of the banking suits been sent to jail, they haven’t even been asked to explain what the hell they thought they were doing as over a period of years they steadily lent billions which neither they nor the Irish exchequer possessed in furtherance of their own greedy ambitions.

While we are not being told directly what went on in the boardrooms and plush offices of the arrogant and the incompetent, some information is beginning to leak out. Was it a coincidence, for example, that quite a number of senior banking executives made off into the sunset, their golden retirement packages clutched in their hot little hands not long before the crash.

Did these people know something about the impending disaster which the Irish public – many of whom, were literally to be driven to suicide, did not? Of my own knowledge I know of people in Dublin, who were more than surprised at the reason given by Irish ex-pats now living in relative opulence in the Middle East for their fortunate circumstances.

The ex pats praise the memory of the Fianna Fáil minister who, they claim, told them that a crash was coming and that they should realise their assets.

Sean and Mary citizen have done well to bear the sacrifices attendant on getting rid of the Troika, the least they are entitled to is an explanation as to the whos and the hows that made those sacrifices necessary.  Will they get it? I don’t know, as a friend of mine observed; ‘this is a great country, we get rid of the Troika and we bring in the Royka (Roy Keane & Co)’.

The Royka, may yet see Ireland achieve some wins on the soccer field, but for the moment the bankers and the lawyers are scoring unhindered by a referee.  


The Resumption!


As I have had to do too often in the past I must begin a blog with an apology for not starting one a long time ago.  I seem to have been embroiled in time consuming controversy to a greater degree than with any of my books here to fore, even the study of  The Hunger strike background , ‘On the Blanket’, through my most recent work ‘The Famine Plot’.

 

This in large part was my own doing because not alone did I say plainly that the Famine could have been avoided, or greatly mitigated, had elements in the British Cabinet not pushed genocidal policies in order to clear the land of unprofitable tennantry but that Irish academic historians had colluded in a white wash of this policy to prevent the facts being known.

 

Stung from their torper in the groves of academe, some of these gentlemen spewed forth bile in a manner that displayed more energy than had been shown in their publications over the years. However now that the ungodly have been I hope suitably smitten it is time to apologise to my friends and readers and a blogging we will go.

 

The real impetus towards starting again was the recent death of two friends, from two of Ireland’s differing traditions, the Green and the Orange.

 

The Green friend was the great Peacemaker Fr. Alec Reid of whom I have written an appreciation also posted on this site.

 

The Orange, my friend Mabel Fox who died in her Clontarf home recently at the age of 103.  Actually although Mabel who was born into a Church of Ireland family she was probably better described as Agnostic rather than C of I and she certainly was not Orange in the sense we associate with those antropoidal tattooed gentlemen who claim to be displaying their culture by playing their flutes in places where they are not welcome.  Yet an incident from her childhood maybe taken as indicative of the manner in which her generation of Irish Protestantism adapted to the new Ireland born of that terrible beauty of 1916.

 

Her abiding memory of that seminal event was of standing, her hand in her fathers gazing at the nearby South Dublin Union in 1916 as bullets flew over her head and her uncle’s fought in France with the British army. 

 

 

Mabel was a widow, who had lost her only daughter, my good friend Barbara Hailey, in a car accident in 1991 but she was always cheerful and interested in the events of the day, buoyed up by her practise of Christianity rather than her preaching of it.

 

She was a remarkably well read woman with a keen, if somewhat sceptical interest in religion and a talent for friendship which was demonstrated at her funeral by the presence of the sort of large crowd of mourners one would normally associate with a person of half her age.

 

But Mabel as her older friends dropped off the vine displayed an extraordinary knack of acquiring new companions, who sought out this remarkable woman in a spirit which was half consultation of and respect for the wise woman and half calling in for a coffee and the craic.

 

Mabel’s life in a way could be taken as illustrative of the manner in which Protestants in the south of Ireland have contributed to the development of Irish society. Barbara succeeded a priest to become a highly respected professor of English at St Patrick’s college Maynooth and her first cousin Olive, Mabel’s niece became a judge and Mabel’s principal solace and support for the last decades of her life.

 

I will say no more about Fr. Reid here my thoughts on him are contained in the accompanying post but will conclude by saying that most men could justifiably feel themselves fortunate to have had a friend of the calibre of these two very different people. But to have known both of them I consider to have been a gift of great worth.


Fr. Alec Reid Peacemaker Extraordinary


Father Alec Reid, an appreciation by Tim Pat Coogan.

 

By the acid test; “Did his life enhance or detract from human happiness?” Father Alec Reid’s sojourn on this earth must be judged a spectacular success. 

 He was the initiator of the peace process and the most tireless worker for it.

 But when this shy diffident Tipperary man first entered the maelstrom of Falls Road life in the early days of the Troubles he encountered scepticism and near dirision.

“He was preaching eeecuminism at Mass last Sunday!”  a prominent Republican told me wonderingly.  The man had been one of the group who had helped to prevent the monastery from being burnt down during the Orange onslaught of August 1969.

 But Clonard has always been a red bricked oasis of Christian charity in the desert of Belfast Protestant/Catholic relationships and Father Alec, and, later, like minded colleagues like Father Gerry Reynolds, also a Southerner reached out to both Orange and Green.

 Alec was torn between the demands of frantic parents seeking news of a son who had been “lifted” by the security forces, or taken away by the IRA, making peace between the various IRA factions, being called out to hospitals at all hours of the day and night and – preaching eeecuminism. 

By 1980 the threat of the removal of special category status, in effect political status from the IRA in the H block prisons at Long Kesh, an old RAF airfield outside Belfast, was threatening to explode sending the north into far greater turmoil than anything hitherto witnessed.

With Fr. Reid’s help I undertook to write a book; ‘On the Blanket’ to call attention to the looming catastrophe. So many Catholics had been rounded up that scarcely a Nationalist family in the north would be unaffected.  I had to write the book while holding down my job as editor of ‘The Irish Press’ and I found the emotional impact as well as the physical strain almost unnerving.

To this day I can still see the face of a woman Fr. Alec introduced me to, a Mrs Carney, one of her sons was in prison as an IRA man, another had been shot by the IRA as an informer having already been kneecapped.  She lived a life of tidy church going desperation remembering the day she first discovered her dead son was in the IRA.  He had always kissed the picture of the Sacred Heart before going out but one day she both realised that he had stopped doing this and that he had an indentation on his forehead which showed that he was wearing a Fianna cap.

Despite her entreaties he continued in the movement saying; ‘I have to do something to support them lads in the H blocks’.  Such O’Caseyesque dramas were played out all over the six counties.  

I finished the book in three months it took a somewhat similar period to recover from the effort but Alec Reid continued in the Maelstrom for the rest of his life.

Eventually, his health broke down.  I visited him once in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and found him lying on the outside of the bed fully clothed, his arms folded gazing blindly at the ceiling his sight and his energy sapped by diabetes.  As I concluded my visit another long-term friend with whom he would one day change Irish history, entered the room, it was Gerry Adams and his wife Collette. 

 His superiors sent him abroad to recover and stationed him as far as they could from Belfast but he worked his way back engineering postings to various Redemptorist Houses, until he finally managed to springboard himself from Dundalk back to Belfast.

 Here the death of a UDR man whom he had vainly tried to save, —- as he would later do in the world famous incident at Milltown Cemetery when he unsuccessfully attempted to rescue two British soldiers — finally decided him on making an effort at securing an overall peace settlement.

He fireproofed himself against the Church authorities by having the Redemptorist theologian Sean O’Riordan vet his plans and later secured the approval and support of Cardinal Thomas O’Fiaich. In fact the peace process might have begun earlier than it did had O’Fiaich not died suddenly on a Lourdes pilgrimage.  The Cardinal had agreed to break the logjam by publicly meeting Gerry Adams.

 Alec knew and trusted Adams whom he had met through the latter’s custom of attending eleven o’clock Mass in Clonard.  Moreover his mother’s family, the Hanaways were both prominent Republicans and neighbours, and supporters of the monastery.

Adams was supportive of a strategy which shelved the prospect of a united Ireland and concentrated on power sharing between nationalists and unionists, each side to work towards their goals by democratic methods, independently of British influences. 

 They had to work in extreme secrecy, security authorities had placed Clonard under intensive electronic surveillance and there were people in the Republican family who would gladly have shot Adams had they known what he was doing but the pair persevered, sometimes holding their conversations in Adam’s kitchen or bathroom with the taps running to scramble bugs.

 Eventually Alec approached John Hume to join the talks.  Hume risked extreme censure from his party, the SDLP but willingly supported the initiative.  Alec then approached me to get Charlie Haughey aboard as the leader of what was seen in the North as the largest Republican Party in the South.

 It was by now 1986 and Haughey and I had fallen out because I had criticised him in the Irish Press for rejecting the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement.

However, Haughey proved surprisingly welcoming and ‘though he would not meet Adams he appointed the excellent Martin Mansergh as a go-between.  He also accepted the peace strategy blueprint which Alec had drawn up in conjunction with Adams and studied it carefully.   And after he became Taoiseach again the following year, he received myself and Alec at Kinsealy, where he tested Alec’s IRA knowledge by finding out from him just what had happened at Loughall where Jim Lynagh’s ASU (active service unit) had been wiped out by the SAS after surrendering.

 There followed some years of activity without movement during which Alec never gave up hope talking on the ‘phone he employed a code which embodied the two loves of his life, the Holy Spirit and the GAA.

 Speaking on the ‘phone he would describe progress, or lack of it by saying things like; “the Holy Spirit is in the Forwards.”  If things were going badly He would be at Wing Back or even on the bench!  Alec’s faith in the Holy Spirit was such that, traditionalist though he was, he even accommodated to the Church’s newer custom that the Holy Spirit might be a She.

The peace process, which had taken a markedly more constructive, upward momentum when Albert Reynolds became Taoiseach, took a further great leap forward after I introduced Alec “the Monk” as she described him, to Jean Kennedy Smith.  Alec in turn used to refer to her in his coded conversations as an spéirbhean(the spirit woman of Irish Legend).  The new American Ambassador was deeply impressed by him and she, and importantly her brother Senator Ted Kennedy knew that Alec was not merely a good man but a well-informed one and that Adams was sincere in his desire for peace.

Despite all the subsequent alarms and excursions the Good Friday Agreement was eventually born as Father Gerry Reynolds memorably put it “it was like a baby being born.  There was blood, pain and torn tissue, but the baby survived and will grow strong.” Incredibly despite the toll which all the foregoing inflicted on Alec after 1998 he took up the cause of making peace between the Basques and the Spanish government and succeeded in making some progress in that most intractable of problems.

If the Irish Church is to survive it will be because of the work of Alec Reid and the men of Clonard Monastery.


Kathleen Ní Houlihan needs a perp’s walk.


Kathleen Ní Houlihan needs a perp’s walk. If the Government didn’t share my views on the need to make people accountable for what was done to our people and our economy under Fianna Fáil, I’d say the opinion poll results which came out since I wrote my l blog below went far to changing their minds.

Enda Kenny’s humanity displayed in his reaction to the Magdalene Women report may alter the position but the fact remains that the poll showed Fianna Fáil going ahead of Fine Gael! This is the party which gave us an epidemic of suicide because of their marriage made in hell with corrupt financiers, builders, bankers and civil servants.  When I say party I mean its leadership of course and those who went along to get along not the ordinary Fianna Fáil supporter who comes from the same stock as Fine Gael and shares the same hopes and aspirations.

The poll does not reflect any appreciation of the efforts of Enda Kenny and some of his team to act with decency and dispatch to clear up the foul mess which Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen left behind them, but it does reflect the dangers and the depth of the grave which the Fine Gael led coalition with Labour are digging for themselves.  There’s an eerie sense of history repeating itself.

Fine Gael is the lineal descendent of Cumann na nGael which established the Irish Free state,thereby creating the democratic sovereignty which Fianna Fáil have handed over to the IMF and the money lenders of Brussels.  Cumann na nGael successfully fought a civil war and managed to repair the destruction of that war and of the Black and Tan war, out of an Exchequer bereft of British subventions and suffering from the effects of horrific  emigration and unemployment. The party also established an unarmed police force, a corruption free Civil service and through the most Draconian cuts and economies somehow managed to balance the books and avoid the ever pressing danger of having the British treasury pulling the rug from under the Irish pound.

Alas these were not the kind of successes which appealed to an electorate, what impacted on the public were cuts like the docking of a shilling a week off the blind pension. If one were to add to today’s economy, factors such as the church led opposition to the proposed abortion referendum and the militant resistance of the Garda to cuts in their emoluments then, one could be back in the period of the 1930s before DeValera won his first election and a spell in power which was to last for an unbroken 16 years.

The government has had a notable triumph in its securing of a deal over the Promissory Notes issue to pay Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, but like the triumphs of Enda Kenny’s predecessor, W.T. Cosgrave, such triumphs have difficulty in eliciting a resonance from the man in the street.   The Government needs to drop the excuse that the vacancies for forensic accountants and for lawyers which are crippling the fraud squad’s efforts to combat white collar crime cannot be filled because of the embargo on public service recruitment and fill these vital posts.

It really is a crime that the white collar criminals who created the need for the embargo should be walking free smirking all the way to the banks which the tax payer is forced to subsidise as they cash in their monstrously unjust and plain monstrous pay offs and pensions.  It would be an excellent political balancing act if the Government were to make up for the fraud squad expenditures by fulfilling their election promises to cut down on the army of county councillors (some 1600 in all) who supply what is laughing known as ‘local government’ at the taxpayer’s expense.  Further meritorious balancing would be achieved by honouring pre-election promises by abolishing the Seanad which is nothing more than a talking shop wherein are provided jobs for the boys and by cutting down the number of T.D.s in the Dáil.  There are currently 166 of these, we could well do with a hundred but the Government is planning to cut only 8, thereby (understandably) furthering the perception that cuts are for the public not the politicians.


Are we Helpless before the Guilty?


Over the New Year I’ve been pondering the implications of a discovery I made while researching my book on the Famine* namely that one of its principal legacies to Ireland was what the psychiatrists called ‘learned helplessness’.  The beliefs that no matter how one tried there was nothing to do in the face of catastrophe save succumb to it or emigrate. There was no possibility of getting back at those who brought about the disaster. In the case of the Famine and in today’s Ireland people are either accepting whatever burdens have been placed upon them with varying degrees of despair or they are getting out.

If one looks at the plight of modern Ireland and comments in astonishment; ‘and nobody is going to jail!’ one can be certain that the automatic knee jerk reaction will be; ‘No! And nobody will go.’  The correct response of course would be for thousands to gather in the streets outside the Dáil demanding the prosecution of the politicians, the policy makers, the regulators who did not regulate, the overseeing civil servants who did not oversee, and the decision takers in the banks and other financial institutions who indulged in spectacularly reckless trading.

The good people, the would be educators of their families, the hard workers are being lashed into carrying the nation’s burdens while the decision takers responsible for their misery ride off unscathed in to the sunset with their pay offs and their pensions and knowing smirks on their faces.

How can we punish the people responsible for Ireland’s present economic and psychological woes? Crime is up, so is unemployment and Irish suicide rates are now acknowledged to be running at 50% above the pre- financial crash levels.  On top of this the country has lost its sovereignty and stands in a Brussels dole queue while it’s young people stand in airport queues to emigrate.

The people are coping bravely and industriously with the threat of unemployment, new taxes and wage cuts but those responsible go Scott free. The government has made no effort to beef up the fraud squad whose good police work is ultimately largely rendered impotent because of a public service embargo necessitated by the credit squeeze which prevents the hiring of essential expertise; forensic accountants, solicitors, senior counsel and so on.  Thus the people who caused the embargo to be instituted escape unscathed and a government reluctant to proceed against key figures in the worlds of law, politics, the Civil service and finance is enabled to shirk its duty of rendering the mighty as well as the meek amenable to the law.

When it first came into office the government did make an effort to set up Dáil committees of Inquiry which would have brought relevant figures to the Dáil to explain themselves as is done in London and Washington. However the attempt was made valueless by the half-hearted way in which the government went about winning the referendum campaign which would have been necessary under the Irish Constitution to allow these committees to be set up.  The referendum was lost, paradoxically in part because the public had become so mistrustful of the politicians that they shrank from giving them further powers.

Moreover a phalanx of former attorneys general further discouraged the public by signing their names to an open letter stating that the proposed committees would interfere with a man’s right to his good name and the judiciaries’ right to independence.

One of the signatories to that letter Mr Dermot Gleeson, was the chairman of Allied Irish Bank.  Another was Mr Peter Sutherland of Goldman Sachs. Incidentally another referendum called for by the financial crisis was one which was necessitated by the reluctance of judges to accept the same pay cuts which other ordinary citizens had to undergo.

There is a great sense of unfairness abroad in Ireland.  As I write these words people are agonising over where they are to get the money for yet more taxes due later this year, a property tax and a beginning to Water rates with the introduction of meters. The Irish are no less patriotic and hardworking than they ever were and just as willing to accept sacrifice for the public weal, but that sacrifice should not be borne solely by the innocent people who would be far more willing to shoulder their burdens if they felt that the guilty suffered for their crimes along with the innocent. It’s time for the government to either revive their original committees proposal or introduce some new initiative to wipe the smirks off those fat cats’ faces.

Feel free to contact me with any comments, suggestions or ideas through the contact section on this website or through my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/timpat.coogan.3

 

 

Tim Pat Coogan’s new book, ‘The Famine Plot, England’s role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy’ published by Palgrave Macmillan is available in bookshops now.

 


The Famine Plot*


The last number of weeks have been more than a little creepy. I found myself watching Homeland with an increasingly ominous fascination.

Somebody somewhere it appears did not want me to visit the United States to publicise my book on the Famine.  It was suggested to me that some securicrats in the U.S. embassy had decided to do a good turn for their buddies in the British ‘Spookdom’ by blocking my attempts to enter the United States on a Book Tour.  I had been applying fruitlessly since September but inexplicably had two separate ESTA Visa waivers turned down and finally after much unhelpful gobbledegook from the U.S. Embassy, had to apply for a Non- Immigrant Visa.

Days and weeks passed and eventually my book tour in the United States, which was scheduled to begin yesterday, was cancelled.

Led by the Irish- American leader, Niall O’Dowd, publisher of The Irish Voice and creator of The Irish Central website, the most important Irish website outside the country, a huge protest movement built up.  There had already been a great deal of complaint s from the Irish- American community about the increasingly rough handed approach in the Dublin Embassy towards Visa seekers and my case proved to be the last straw.

Amongst those who were approached on my behalf were Hillary Clinton, Senator Schumer, reckoned to be the second most powerful member of the U.S. Senate and the chairman of the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security, Congressman Peter King. As a result word was conveyed to me from Senator Schumer’s office that I would be getting my Visa.

Today, November 27th, the day after the date on which it was originally proposed that I begin a book tour in the U.S., I received a call from a gentleman in the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, he told me that he could not give me his name ‘for security reasons’ but confirmed for me that I was to be granted a Ten Year Visa, with multiple applications but with a sinister sounding addendum that this would involve stamping my passport with an annotation to the effect that the visa had been granted following scrutiny by security agencies.  This sounded a bit Scarlet Letter- esque to me.

However the other part of my anonymous caller’s message I found even more sinister he told me that my two earlier Visa waiver applications had been blocked by Homeland Security. Had it not been for a short but vigorous and extremely well focused campaign mounted on my behalf by Niall O’Dowd with the support of the Irish- American community I would not have received either my phone call or the Visa.

The embassy phone call marks a great advance on the attitude over my ESTA applications and I would once again like to thank very sincerely all those who supported me.  The episode again underlines the great strength of the Irish American community when they decide to combine on a particular issue. Daniel O’Connell’s famous message to the Irish was, ‘Organise, Organise.’ That message is as relevant today as ever and Irish-Americans should be vigilant to ensure that the hard won concessions they secured on Visa dispersement are not eroded by the action of any segment of the bureaucracy. Remember Lincoln’s warning about the price of liberty being eternal vigilance.

In today’s recessionary world Lincoln may be taken as speaking not merely to Irish-Americans, but to the Irish Diaspora worldwide.

 

* The Famine Plot, England’s role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy is published by Palgrave Macmillan and available in shops now.


Never a Dull Moment


Never a Dull Moment

It’s been heartening to see the amount of support I have received following the breaking of the news that my planned American Book tour to publicise my recently published book ‘The Famine Plot, England’s role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy’ had to be cancelled  because I was refused a Visa.

To judge from the incandescent reaction on the Irish Central website the Visa story has become the current hot button issue amongst Irish – Americans and the case has been taken up by the second most powerful member of the U.S. Senate, Senator Schumer. Nothing remotely resembling the controversy has been seen in the U.S. since the great debate over the Gerry Adam’s Visa issue.  I’ve been travelling around the U.S. for over fifty years at every level of society, attending the Whitehouse  on a couple of occasions, once to interview President Reagan and was welcomed a the U.S. Supreme court at a luncheon given there in my honour.  At the moment no-one can explain the reason for the Visa refusal.

Suggestions have been as bizarre as the occurrence itself, one high ranking American diplomat, opined that ‘Mr Coogan may have the same name as someone on the wanted list’. This raises the possibility that there is a haroun El Racid Tim Pat Coogan running around Tehran or somewhere. Another theory is that the increasingly heavy handed securicrats in U.S. immigration segment of the Dublin U.S. Embassy were doing a favour for some of their British counterparts who don’t want to see my research reaching the American public.

For myself I can’t add anything to any theory but I think I’d better stop watching ‘Homeland’, just to be on the safe side!

However the book itself has been extremely well received and I have been invited to join two of Ireland’s leading artists, Robert Ballagh and Brian Friel as patrons of the forthcoming major Famine Tribunal being staged at Fordham University next April.

Below are some recent articles on my new book and the Visa debacle.

 

http://www.irishcentral.com/story/news/periscope/barring-of-writer-tim-pat-coogan-from-us-is-an-absolute-disgrace—americas-greatest-friend-in-ireland-insulted-by-the-us-embassy-180684371.html

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Famed-historian-Tim-Pat-Coogan-confirms-he-was-turned-down-twice-for-US-visa–180497001.html

http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Tim-Pat-Coogan-book-tour-canceled-after-visa-refusal-180337311.html

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/tim-pats-trip-to-us-called-off-as-visa-problems-halt-book-tour-3302191.html

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/1122/1224326953101.html

http://www.irishnews.com/features/ireland-s-genocide-1208513

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2012/11/22/interview-tim-pat-coogan


Hello Again


Hello again everybody, apologies for the long silence but the illustrations appended herewith form part of the explanation. I have been writing a book about the Famine and these graphic images, created by my granddaughter Caoimhe Pendred in Skibereen where the Famine hit hard are based on potatoes, the crop which so sadly and disastrously failed. The book is due to be published in November by Palgrave Macmillian and I’ll be visiting some American cities.

Somewhat shamefacedly I will be going back over some of the emails, which amazingly still come to my website despite my silence and in the meantime I am posting herewith an article which contains my thoughts on the present state of Ireland.

With firm promise of more output in the future, best wishes to all my friends.

Sincerely
Tim Pat Coogan

 

Women and Children First.

In these situations it’s always women and children first said the senior civil servant soothingly as I complained bitterly about the first major Government response to the Debt crisis which Fianna Fáil and the decision takers of the hour had visited upon the country. Infamously as we know the action took the form of attempting to take medical cards away from the over seventies.

Some several years down the line under a new coalition the watchword is still women and children first as wheelchair bound sufferers are forced to piss into cans outside the Dáil as they mount an all-night vigil in protest at cuts in their Homecare packages.

Modern Ireland deserves a damn sight better than it is getting. An unfortunate overtaxed people are striving as best they can to pick up the pieces of the bank’s crash.

They are coping with a factor not sufficiently acknowledged, vastly increased suicide rates, emigration, unemployment and a murderous crime wave which is visibly out of control.

And all this for what? I had an experience recently which made me question the validity of all the financial measures that both this and the previous government have taken. I applied for a replacement for a lost Share Certificate through the large financial services company Computershare and as I was advised by a stockbroker, had my local bank authenticate my application however I got a letter back form Computershare stating that ‘Bank of Ireland are not recognised by Computershare Investment Services as authorised to conjoin Letters of Indemnity’. And for good measure the letter also ruled out Allied Irish Bank, IBRC (the bank mopping up the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank)

When I rang Computershare to seek further information I was told ‘these banks do not meet our criteria’

How many billions have we poured into our reckless, corrupt and negligent banks? Is this the reality of Ireland’s real credit rating behind the posturing on the deal of debt forgiveness which our government expects to get from Europe? Is this the reality for which our people are being scourged?

Given the stoicism and effort which we Irish have traditionally exhibited it is not surprising that we are coping quite gallantly with our challenges. But we face a monstrous, inhibiting factor, it is the gross unfairness of modern Irish society, the women and children first syndrome.

George Bernard Shaw spoke truly when he said that all professions are a conspiracy against the public. The lawyers, the bankers, the stockbrokers, the accountants and the political class of Ireland brought crisis and tragedy upon their people but they escape justice while the people pay for their crimes.

Not one of the aforementioned categories of professionals have suffered for the misdeeds they committed during the boom years, the reckless lending, the hyping of shares, the covering up of criminal balance sheets, the blind eye turned to regulatory negligence, the political cover given to the disgraceful inertia of the Department of Finance and the Central Bank.

Yet as this is written public spirited people are patrolling the banks of the Shannon, approaching worried looking citizens to enquire are they thinking of a walk or of suicide. No one has gone to jail. No one has even been asked to give a public account of their failures on watch.

Currently an effort is being made to bamboozle the public by holding hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of the Dáil which enquires as to how public monies were spent. It’s a meaningless exercise, the money is gone and retribution is inevitably far to seek.

However a proposal which might have helped the people to understand what happened and to provide consequences was nipped in the bud in the early days of the present ‘reforming’ Government taking over from Fianna Fáil. This was the holding of a referendum, to change the Constitution so that the Dáil could hold committee hearings, like those conducted by the US Senate or the UK parliament into matters of public interest and make findings of fact.

The Referendum was defeated for two reasons, one people didn’t trust the politicians to hold such hearings lest they used them for private, star chamber purposes and two because a group of ex attorneys general ( of all parties ) gave a powerful jolt to public opinion by writing to the papers saying that such a referendum would take away a man’s right to his good name, and the independence of the judiciary.

One of the signatories to that letter was Dermot Gleeson the chairman of Allied Irish Bank during the Celtic Tiger era, another Peter Sutherland of Goldman Sachs, a further defender of the individual’s right to his good name was Michael McDowell who followers of Irish Central shall remember from Frank Connolly’s article [insert date please] gave confidential documents from his department to the Irish Independent which formed part of his case outlined under privilege in the Dáil that Connolly had visited Colombia on a forged passport to see his brother, who at the time was in jail as a member of the Colombia Three.

In the uproar that followed McDowell’s manoeuvre a noble work by one of the most valuable men to ever visit Ireland, Chuck Feeny was destroyed. This was the public enquiry institute of which Connolly was the chief journalist and distinguished figures like Mr Justice Fergus Flood, the chairman. At the time Bertie Ahern said on television that no country, not America, not France could stand for such an outside agency supplying information to its public.

Ahern, conveniently overlooked the activities of Sky Television, CNN, The BBC and the Murdoch press when he said this but he subsequently took a job on losing office with the scummiest publication in the English language, The News of the World which Murdoch was forced to shut down and the Irish public never read the results of the story that Connolly and his team had been working on- an investigation of Ahern’s finances.

Given this background and the traditional Irish deference to the authority of both Christ and Caesar it is not surprising that the professionals have managed to keep the rich and the venial from appearing before the bar of justice. But given the disturbed, near mutinous state of Irish public opinion it is not unreasonable to speculate that unless the state acts to prosecute those responsible for the wheelchairs outside the Dáil the willingness of the Irish taxpayer to submit meekly to the horrors predicted for the next budget and those yet to come may be soon coming to an end. I certainly hope so.