Archive for August, 2016

Australia’s off-shoring of asylum seekers is just plain cruel

August 13th, 2016 Comments off

This is my article which appeared in The Irish Times, Saturday August 13, explaining the Nauru detention centre scandals to a non-Australian audience

The Black Armband has come back to haunt Australia. Twenty years after conservative prime minister John Howard brushed off national guilt about mistreatment of Indigenous people, revelations have emerged of cruel and unusual sufferings of asylum-seekers whom “the Lucky Country” had dumped offshore. The appalling conditions imposed on people – especially children – has angered and ashamed many Australians.

While western Europe this summer saw queues of refugees at the borders of the EU, and has become hardened to mass drownings after perilous sea journeys, Australia has long adopted a bi-partisan attitude of zero tolerance to its refugee problem.

(A person is not technically a refugee, under the UN Convention of 1951, until they have been recognised as such by a host country. So most of the fleeing people mentioned here are actually asylum-seekers.)

 The scandal of Nauru is not new, but the sheer enormity of the files released this week by The Guardian newspaper is horrifying. There are around 500 asylum-seekers in the detention centre on the island, about one-tenth of whom are children. People being abused, physically, sexually, emotionally, driven to attempt suicide, is described. And the key point: these 2,000 reports were not written by “bleeding heart” liberal luvvies from do-good organisations. They are written by actual staff at the detention centres , which were privatised in the 2000s.

Read more…

Categories: Blog Tags:

Life no longer so gay at Ireland’s seminary Maynooth

August 3rd, 2016 Comments off

DO you have that Trumped-out feeling? One can only be outraged, sickened, appalled, and yet entertained, for so long, right? And Trumpetisation has been ongoing for over a year. The topic of DJT has now been banned from my family dinner table. We are just putting our fingers in our ears, casting down our eyes, and hoping that we will wake up on November 9 and it will all have been a nasty dream, and a responsible human being is in the White House.

And just when there’s a need for something new to be exercised about, the Catholic Church obliges.

It’s the decision by Archbishop of Dublin and Good Egg, Diarmuid Martin, to stop sending his trainee priests to St Patrick’s College at Maynooth. Maynooth has for over 200 years been a “pontifical university” (offering courses in theology and related disciplines) and a training college for novice priests. The Archbishop referred to homosexual activity and “strange goings-on” – a rather twee and non-specific term, from such an intelligent man. The media, certain sections of it revelling in this story, have run reports that the gay dating app Grindr was being put through its paces at Maynooth.

Well: maybe you are shocked. But surely not at the idea of gay activity among priests? Perhaps the past two decades have blunted our sensibilities with regard to the sexual activity of the clergy. There have been so many shocking and disgraceful cases of sexual abuse, particularly of children in the care of the Church. But consenting sex among adult males? Is the Church still pretending that homosexuality doesn’t exist, or doesn’t exist among its staff? Read more…