Niall McElwee and the PC Gestapo

 Posted by on April 17, 2008  Add comments
Apr 172008
 

When Niall McElwee left a reply here, this post became something different from its original version.

Originally, this post was just a reaction to a commenter on another blog who suggested I was “within a hair” of blaming the victim, and who also cast doubt on the validity of my questions about this case.

I took extreme exception to the arrogance of both propositions, and you can see what I meant about PC Gestapo from Adam’s hectoring tone in the comments and on Mulley’s site, linked to below.  Look, he’s a very young fellow, and young lads are always certain about everythin  I have children older than him, and I was probably just as arrogant at his age, so I won’t say any more about him.

________________________

Original Post

There are three questions arising from the report on the Niall McElwee case.

[EDIT: I’ve slightly clarified the first one to avoid further confusion]

  • Is Niall McElwee’s offence at the grave end of the sentencing spectrum?
  • If so, were the Dutch courts remiss in imposing a 3-month suspended sentence instead of jailing him for a long time?
  • Is there a point on the spectrum below which a person may keep their job, or should everyone who commits a sexual offence be sacked?

Now, these are not difficult questions to understand, but they are relevant, yet some people would question my very right to ask them at all.  It seems my bona fides are in doubt and at least one young man reserves the right to judge who is and who is not fit to express sincere disquiet about this matter.

______________________

UPDATE

Here is the text of a reply to this post from Niall McElwee.  I present it to you as it was received, without editing, and you can make of it whatever you will:–

This is my first time writing on Bock’s site and is in response to his recent blog on my case. I have seen Bock’s other posts on a range of issues and have a sense of fair play in the questions he poses so hope he will offer me some space to air my side of what is a very complex story.

The Devine Report into the HSE (not me!) has just been published and, yet again, the media (and some bloggers) have chosen to misrepresent the situation despite the over 200 page report. So, for the record:

I accept that my behaviour in 2004 was my repsonsibility and again apologise for it. Although I would dearly like to change things, I cannot undo the past. I have to try to get on with my life as it now is.

Nonetheless,I did not break down down or break into any room. The doors were, in fact, open. This was accepted in Court.

Conan asks about witnesses. There was no-one present in court other than the relevant court officals and members of my family. The Dutch system allows for convictions based on witness statements and the witnesses are not bound to appear before the Court. This, obviously, creates its own issues when one is used to the Irish system of right to cross exam on particular points.

The case took place in Dutch and I was allocated a translator which, I felt, made it very difficult for me to respond adequately and in good time to the Prosecutor.

The media keep alluding to the HSE and Gardai being aware of my arrest within days. This is beacuse I called the Gardai and the HSE (Mr. MHB1 in the Report) immediately after I got out of custody and have phone records to prove this. I tried to show some level of responsibilty in doing this. It seems that the media like to forget to mention that I brought the matter to the attention of the authorities because that doesnt make for a good story or headline.

I did not come back to Ireland and simply get on with my life. I formally met with the HSE within a few days of returning and was informed by a senior HSE Officer that HSE protocal was being observed. I thought this was the case until it became clear in the media in July 2007 that it had not. This is entirely in the realm of the HSE and I note that files are being sent to HSE HR Directorate on this matter. It is not my fault that the HSE did not do its job as I relied on its internal systems.

We have all been let down by its grave error.

_______________________

The Conviction

This is the English-language version of the Dutch conviction as quoted in the report.

For clarity, I’ve set it out in such a way that each individual clause has its own line.  If anyone would like to throw light on what “and/or” means in Dutch law, I’d be grateful.  If every clause were joined by an “and” there would be no question about this matter and I wouldn’t be writing about it.  However, given the terminology, the fact that there were no witnesses other than police, and the fact that Niall McElwee was conducting his defence through a translator, I have misgivings about it.  I’m not saying it was wrong: only that it troubles me.

Some people don’t like that fact, as you can see in the comments.

Here’s the judgement:-

On or around 24 June 2004 in Amsterdam

(forced (named person 1))

by performing the criminal act intended by the defendant

through violence

or (an) other act(s) of violence

and/or other threats of violence,

to perform

and/or to endure one or more lewd act(s)

and of standing with bared lower part of the body beside the bed of (named person 1)

and/or bending down over (named person 1) with his penis in his hand

and/or saying suck me baby

and/or attempting to bring the head of (named person 1) to his crotch.

And

on or around 24 June 2004,

forcing (named person 2),

by performing the criminal act intended by the defendant, through violence

or (an) other act(s) of violence

and/or threats of violence

or (an) other act(s) of violence, to perform

and/or to endure one or more lewd act(s)

and of lying down in bed with (named person 2) with the front of his trousers opened,

and/or grabbing (named person 2) by the wrist(s)

and/or hand(s) in order to prevent her from leaving the bed

and/or forcing her to endure that he, the defendant, was lying down against her with the front of his trousers opened.

_________________________

Previously:

What did Niall McElwee do?

______________________

  89 Responses to “Niall McElwee and the PC Gestapo”

Comments (88) Trackbacks (1)
  1.  

    Hi Bock

    That link is not working
    I have been following that thread though..
    I guess opinions are only ok in Adams world when he agrees with them

  2.  

    Link fixed

  3.  

    Godwins!

  4.  

    PC KGB?
    PC Politburo?
    PC Inquisition?

    Maybe someone would give me a list of politically acceptable analogies.

  5.  

    P C Speznatz

  6.  

    His behaviour was completely out of order but I would wonder about the idea that once the crime is sexual that it doesn’t matter what actually happened but for to call for the sanction to be grave in their consequences. Adam has asked “Why must it be classified as grave”, because we punish grave matters more severally perhaps? From mamanpoulet’s post, this appears to be the text of what happened or the legalese of it anyway.

    ““ On or around 24 June 2004 in Amsterdam (forced (named person 1)) by performing the criminal act intended by the defendant through violence or (an) other act(s) of violence and/or other threats of violence, to perform and/or to endure one or more lewd act(s) and of standing with bared lower part of the body beside the bed of (named person 1) and/or bending down over (named person 1) with his penis in his hand and/or saying “suck me baby” and/or attempting to bring the head of (named person 1) to his crotch”.

    And

    “on or around 24 June 2004, forcing (named person 2), by performing the criminal act intended by the defendant, through violence or (an) other act(s) of violence and/or threats of violence or (an) other act(s) of violence, to perform and/or to endure one or more lewd act(s) and of lying down in bed with (named person 2) with the front of his trousers opened, and/or grabbing (named person 2) by the wrist(s) and/or hand(s) inorder to prevent her from leaving the bed and/or forcing her to endure that he, the defendant, was lying down against her with the front of his trousers opened.”

    There are lots of ‘or’s in there and considerable open endedness about what exactly happened. As I understand it from the information previous in the public domain it seemed the case that he burst into room with 3 young women/girls in it, jumped on or approached a bed and waved his penis in one’s face, while grabbing or making a grab for their head.

  7.  

    “Is Niall McElwee’s offence a grave one?”
    Ask the two girls.

    “If so, were the Dutch courts remiss in imposing a 3-month suspended sentence instead of jailing him for a long time?”
    Presumably the girls gave evidence?

    “Is there a point on the spectrum below which a person may keep their job, or should everyone who commits a sexual offence be sacked?”
    It may depend on the nature of the job as much as, or rather than the degree of the offence.

  8.  

    Conan, I’m not sure that the girls involved did give evidence in court as they were tourists and it may not have been possible for them to return for the court appearance. That may have worked to McElwee advantage or disadvantage it is hard to say.

    And I do think the nature of someone’s job does have some relevance to the sanctions applied.

    Adam, in response to your querying of why someone might have taken this discussion elsewhere, you would be well aware that one basic reason to talk about this here would be that the original site is very suspect when it comes to open discussion on any topic that the owner takes a view on and he has an established pattern of modding out, deleting, or altering contributions he doesn’t like or simply disagrees with. So he might have allowed you and Bock to continue to talk but others may have found they were not have be able to add their two cents. How do we know if those posts are even what you or Bock wrote in full?

  9.  

    Are we forgetting the 3 girls involved in this sordid episode? One was aged only 15 years. What impact has this had on them.

    McElwee should explain why he stayed lecturing and pontificating about child protection when he had been involved in this kind of horrible incident.

    Like those in the roman catholic church he preached one thing and practiced the opposite.

    Yes his offence is a grave one. If he was a gardener and committed this offence it would have been a grave offence and there would be very little notice taken of the crime or the punishment. The fact that he’s an expert in child protection issues probably does make him more culpable.

    Dutch courts are not the only courts who get it wrong on sentencing for this kind of offence.

    Who on earth would take him seriously now on the issue of child protection?

  10.  

    This is my first time writing on Bock’s site and is in response to his recent blog on my case. I have seen Bock’s other posts on a range of issues and have a sense of fair play in the questions he poses so hope he will offer me some space to air my side of what is a very complex story.

    The Devine Report into the HSE (not me!) has just been published and, yet again, the media (and some bloggers) have chosen to misrepresent the situation despite the over 200 page report. So, for the record:

    I accept that my behaviour in 2004 was my repsonsibility and again apologise for it. Although I would dearly like to change things, I cannot undo the past. I have to try to get on with my life as it now is.

    Nonetheless,
    I did not break “down down” or “break into” any room. The doors were, in fact, open. This was accepted in Court.

    Conan asks about witnesses. There was no-one present in court other than the relevant court officals and members of my family. The Dutch system allows for convictions based on witness statements and the witnesses are not bound to appear before the Court. This, obviously, creates its own issues when one is used to the Irish system of right to cross exam on particular points.

    The case took place in Dutch and I was allocated a translator which, I felt, made it very difficult for me to respond adequately and in good time to the Prosecutor.

    The media keep alluding to the HSE and Gardai “being aware of my arrest within days”. This is beacuse I called the Gardai and the HSE (Mr. MHB1 in the Report) immediately after I got out of custody and have phone records to prove this. I tried to show some level of responsibilty in doing this. It seems that the media like to forget to mention that I brought the matter to the attention of the authorities because that doesnt make for a good story or headline.

    I did not come back to Ireland and simply “get on with my life”. I formally met with the HSE within a few days of returning and was informed by a senior HSE Officer that HSE protocal was being observed. I thought this was the case until it became clear in the media in July 2007 that it had not. This is entirely in the realm of the HSE and I note that files are being sent to HSE HR Directorate on this matter. It is not my fault that the HSE did not do its job as I relied on its internal systems.

    We have all been let down by its grave error.

  11.  

    Niall, do you feel that if you’d been able to face the girls in court and you’d been able to follow the proceedings more easily and hence give a better account of yourself before the judge, then you might have got a lesser sentence or even been found not guilty?

  12.  

    As Niall McElwee has contributed a reply, I’m going to stay out of this line of comments for the most part.

    However, I’d like to respond to points that Conan and Andrew made. In a properly-regulated society, I don’t think it’s the function of the victim to determine the gravity of an offence in relation to comparable offences by others. Every victim feels that the offence against them was of the gravest sort.

    Deciding on the relative gravity of any offence is the function of the courts, and it seems to me that the Dutch courts didn’t impose a very severe sentence. It’s not good enough to question their competence, as Andrew does. If the Dutch court made an error, then you might well ask whether they could be trusted to get the conviction right in the first place.

    Also, we have already seen what happens when a victim is placed in the position of deciding the gravity of an offence. The debacle of the Wayne O Donoghue victim impact statement should teach us not to go there again.

    I’m going to place Niall McElwee’s comment in the main body of this post so that people can make of it what they will.

  13.  

    This man was in the position of knowing exactly what the ramifications of sexual threat are and how severe the effect of being under duress and shock are in such a situation, especially on young people. He had spent years in research and study. That is the whole point about this case. He was an advocate for the protection of children and yet that did not stop him from carrying out these actions in the room of four teenagers, one of whom was just 15. He should have been given a custodial sentence. And he should have immediately known himself that his days in the child protection business were over. It is not enough for him to say he informed the HSE – that quote from him (if it is him posting on this site) is appalling and shows the depth of his denial: “It is not my fault that the HSE did not do its job as I relied on its internal systems.We have all been let down by its grave error.” His knowledge and research should have made him realise that he was now persona non grata and an honourable man would have realised that, asked for leave of absence and sought out therapy and rehabilitation and aimed to find another field of work, away from child protection. It’s called taking responsibility.
    Bock, you ask if everyone who commits a sexual offence be sacked? It would depend on the seriousness of the offence, the age of the people involved, the suffering of the victim and the efforts to make amends and change ways. You didn’t ask the question if alcohol consumption should ever be a defence in a case of sexual offence – but my answer, anyway, is No.

  14.  

    I wasn’t going to reply on this thread as I don’t like discussing one issue on two sites at the same time – it gets confusing… but there have been some comments made on what I’ve said so I’d like to respond to those in particular.

    Adam has asked “Why must it be classified as grave”, because we punish grave matters more severally perhaps?

    Bock asked if the crime was grave in the context of the point that if McElwee’s crime was enough to lose him his job, perhaps people guilty of any sexual assault (and even innocent come-on or dance floor grope) should be treated similarly.

    As you can see I took issue with the implication that McElwee’s crime was comparable to a grope or come-on, however the reason I asked “why must it be grave?” is because Bock himself categorised “grave” sexual assaults as the most serious on the “spectrum” of potential assaults. In other words he was asking if McElwee’s crime was the most serious of sexual assaults possible.

    As such my question was really asking why a sexual assault must be of the most extreme variety before the issue of them losing their job becomes relevant. As I said in response to one of his other questions, how a sexual assault is treated by an employer really depends on the individual details of the crime and of the job the assailant does so there is no way to say X is severe enough to merit a sacking but Y is not – therefore I do not think a crime has to be grave to justify a sacking.

    Of course at the other end of this I believe that there are sexual assaults (be they considered minor or irrelevant to the job) that would not warrant someone to lose their job – I don’t think that’s the case here, though, even though McElwee’s crimes are not the most extreme on the supposed “spectrum” of assaults.

    Adam, in response to your querying of why someone might have taken this discussion elsewhere, you would be well aware that one basic reason to talk about this here would be that the original site is very suspect when it comes to open discussion on any topic that the owner takes a view on and he has an established pattern of modding out, deleting, or altering contributions he doesn’t like or simply disagrees with. So he might have allowed you and Bock to continue to talk but others may have found they were not have be able to add their two cents.

    Naturally I can’t comment on how Damien deals with comments to his site, any more than saying I’ve never had my comments deleted or altered.

    However the point of my comment about this topic being mentioned here wasn’t because I wanted him to continue the debate at Mulley.net and nowhere else – it was more to ask why he had raised the issue here if he had decided to end it on Damien’s site? In other words, if you said you weren’t going to discuss something any more then why would you start discussing it somewhere else?

    How do we know if those posts are even what you or Bock wrote in full?

    Well I can’t speak for Bock here but I know that if I saw any alterations to my post I’d take issue with it – at least to the extent of raising it on my own site. I imagine Bock would do the same if his comments were changed.

  15.  

    In the Wayne O’Donoghue case the victim was dead so couldn’t decide on the ‘relative’ gravity of the offence.

    I suppose if the Dutch courts didn’t impose a very severe sentence then this is all a storm in a teacup – and it isn’t any such thing.

    One of the points I was trying to make (feebly obviously) was that if this case involved a gardener we wouldn’t be discussing it at all. It’s the position he holds (or held?) that points to a degree of hypocrisy.

    The HSE’s Trust In Care document gives these definitions of sexual abuse and I presume everyone contracted to the HSE is familiar with them:

    HSE Trust In Care – Appendix 2

    Examples of sexual abuse include:

    (ii) inappropriate and sexually explicit conversations or remarks;

    (ii) exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of the patient/client;

    (v) sexual exploitation of a child or vulnerable adult, including any behaviours, gestures or expressions that may be interpreted as being seductive or sexually demeaning to a patient/client;

  16.  

    Adam: The “supposed spectrum” is a concept used by the courts in sentencing. It isn’t something I made up, as you seem to think.

    As such my question was really asking why a sexual assault must be of the most extreme variety before the issue of them losing their job becomes relevant

    I didn’t suggest that. It’s what you thought you read. Read it again.

    I took issue with the implication that McElwee’s crime was comparable to a grope or come-on

    I don’t know who implied that, but it wasn’t me. You didn’t read carefully enough what I wrote.

    I gave up discussing it with you on Mulley’s site because you kept misinterpreting what I said and putting your words in my mouth. There’s no point continuing such a conversation.

  17.  

    Roisin, it is open to question if McElwee would have been aware of the age of those involved given that it appears it was a hostel and one would routinely expect that people traveling alone and staying in such accommodation would be adults. That is no justification for the incident but it does mean the age of those involved may not have been pertinent to the commission of the assault, though it does reasonably have some bearing on the consequences. Again we’re left with questions as to what actually happened described in terms people can understand and make a judgment on. It may be an uncomfortable concept but we have to have some gradation of crimes and possible punishments.

    Adam, I’m glad to hear that you’ve not had any comments deleted or altered. I’d be happier too if the discussion took place in one place I’ve not even bothered to comment on Mulley’s site in 3/4 months simply because he started to mod out my comments without letting on to anyone. Those Cork people, eh. He has freely admitted elsewhere to deleting comments if they’re giving an alternative opinion to what he’s saying himself. There may be loads of people commenting in support of you or Bock on but the viewing public will be none the wiser if he choses to shape the discussion one way or the other. It’s a side issue to this discussion to be honest but that is why I’m here and not there.

  18.  

    Adam: The “supposed spectrum” is a concept used by the courts in sentencing. It isn’t something I made up, as you seem to think.

    Clearly not – otherwise we wouldn’t have cases like Adam Keane.

    My point about the use of a spectrum is that it can only be used in the broadest of terms – is this a sexual assault, a physical assault, a rape, etc.

    You cannot use it to give a precise reflection in a case by case basis as the various aspects of a rape case, and the effect it has on the victim and their loved ones, are not something you can compare or account for.

    A court does not use an arbitrary spectrum to gauge the severity of every aspect of a case and nor should an employer.

    Without wanting to seem crude, suggesting there could be a spectrum on all aspects of sexual assault would mean people having to decide what is worse – someone being repeatedly raped over the course of a night or someone being raped my multiple people in a short space of time.

    As such my question was really asking why a sexual assault must be of the most extreme variety before the issue of them losing their job becomes relevant

    I didn’t suggest that. It’s what you thought you read. Read it again.

    In the context of the discussion on whether McElwee deserved to lose his job you asked if it was grave – in other words if it can be considered at the most serious end of the “spectrum”. My question was asking why this was relevant to the issue of him deserving (or otherwise) to lose his job.

    I took issue with the implication that McElwee’s crime was comparable to a grope or come-on

    I don’t know who implied that, but it wasn’t me. You didn’t read carefully enough what I wrote.

    You said that if McElwee deserved to lose his job for what he did then maybe someone who made unwanted sexual advances in a club should suffer the same fate – clearly you compared the two in suggesting they both deserve the same punishment.

    You also stated that McElwee lost his job for telling someone to suck his cock, which is a completely absurd misrepresentation of what he was convicted of.

    I gave up discussing it with you on Mulley’s site because you kept misinterpreting what I said and putting your words in my mouth. There’s no point continuing such a conversation.

    I’ve already dealt with your suggestion that I misinterpreted what you said on Mulley’s blog so I won’t repeat it here.

  19.  

    So, the man was found guilty and received a conviction in a court in the Netherlands. Presumably – I’m inferring from the comment above – he had entered a ‘not guilty’ plea and was defending the prosecution?

    What aspect of the concept of child protection, his supposed area of expertise, does this irresponsible eejit not understand?

    Bock, there is no “PC Gestapo” issue here.

  20.  

    “Without wanting to seem crude, suggesting there could be a spectrum on all aspects of sexual assault would mean people having to decide what is worse – someone being repeatedly raped over the course of a night or someone being raped my multiple people in a short space of time.”

    Adam, haven’t you just suggested that what the text of the incident refers to as a lewd act can’t be viewed as being any different to rape? And courts do make judgments based on the exactly particulars of each case.

  21.  

    Adam, haven’t you just suggested that what the text of the incident refers to as a lewd act can’t be viewed as being any different to rape?

    Yes, I’ve never suggested McElwee’s actions were the same as a rape; my point is that beyond a broad distinction like this a court cannot compare abstracts and decide which is more serious than the other.

    And courts do make judgments based on the exactly particulars of each case.

    Of course they do – but they don’t do it on the basis of a rigid spectrum nor do they do it in comparison with other cases (which is what a detailed spectrum would demand) – they treat each one individually.

  22.  

    Conan: You might have missed the context. This post was originally about Adam’s casting doubt on the legitimacy of my questions.

    Adam: You’re at it again. Every time you say “in other words”, you’re changing what I said. Why must you keep doing that?

    By the way, who said “rigid spectrum”?

    I’m not going to spend all night forensically splitting hairs with you about what I said. Either you can see where I’m going with this or you can’t, and it looks like you can’t.

  23.  

    Adam: You’re at it again. Every time you say “in other words”, you’re changing what I said. Why must you keep doing that?

    I said “in other words” once in the context of your “grave” question. You originally said there’s a spectrum of sexual assaults between the minor and the extremely grave – your words. Then you asked if McElwee’s crime was grave, your words.

    So to put the two together you were asking if McElwee’s crime was at the extreme end of things in terms of sexual assault. How am I changing what you said there?

    By the way, who said “rigid spectrum”?

    If you are to suggest that there can be a spectrum where all sexual assaults can be compared you have to accept a rigidity so that comparison and categorisation is possible. Otherwise it’s impossible to compare sexual assaults in the abstract beyond broad characterisations and even then it’s difficult.

    I’m not going to spend all night forensically splitting hairs with you about what I said. Either you can see where I’m going with this or you can’t, and it looks like you can’t.

    I find it somewhat arrogant of you to suggest that us being unable to agree is my fault. I would have expected you to respect someone else’s ability to see things differently even if you think they’re totally wrong in doing so.

  24.  

    Adam: I’m starting to think you’re more concerned with dissecting my language than you are with throwing light on the McElwee case.

    All you want to do is win a little victory and it’s becoming very boring.

    Have you anything positive to contribute to the discussion?

  25.  

    Adam: I’m starting to think you’re more concerned with dissecting my language than you are with throwing light on the McElwee case.

    I’m concerned with highlighting your comparison between McElwee’s actions and a drunken grope or come-on; that’s why I got involved in the discussion in the first place.

    Any time I’ve actually given a response to one of your questions or comments you just accuse me of questioning your motives (which I didn’t do), questioning your bona fides (which I didn’t do), putting words in your mouth (which I didn’t do), and evading questions (which I didn’t do).

    All you want to do is win a little victory and it’s becoming very boring.

    I don’t think there’s a victory to be had in a discussion like this – however if you feel there is feel free to continue to pursue it by ignoring anything I say that may challenge your opinion.

    Have you anything positive to contribute to the discussion?

    I’ve added my opinion to the questions you put forward (that I felt I could answer without abandoning logic) but you chose to ignore that time and time again.

    Now if you want to talk about being positive in his discussion perhaps you could explain the positive nature of calling me authoritarian and part of the “PC Gestapo” (sic) just because I questioned the logic of your questions and challenged your points.

  26.  

    I think you’re illustrating that bit quite well without my help.

  27.  

    “I’m starting to think you’re more concerned with dissecting my language than you are with throwing light on the McElwee case.”

    You took the words out of my mouth.

    I seem to be looking at an argument about semantics. On both blogs.

    For what it’s worth:

    On a scale of one to ten (if one is ‘flashing’ and ten is rape) I’d give him around a 5. That’s assuming he thought the girls were adults? And losing one’s job after a 5 depends on what that job is.

    If the offender is a teacher, then probably yes. In another job, maybe no. I find it very tricky as I’m not aware of what “force” was involved on this occasion.

    I’m throwing this in to get away from the semantics … and I could change my mind if it turns out that I don’t know all the details. Or if I’m persuaded by someone else’s argument! I’m half expecting some (female) commenter to come in and scream at me. But maybe not.

  28.  

    Yeah. I’d love to have a conversation with Adam.

    Me: Hi Adam. Nice day. What are you doing later?

    Adam: Hi Adam. Nice day. What are you doing later?

    First of all, it isn’t necessarily a nice day. You said it was a nice day, which implies that you hate all gay people.

    Secondly, the assumptions behind your question are invalid. I won’t answer that question until you prove to my satisfaction that it has some relevance to this discussion. I think you’re really saying that all black people should be deported.

    Why do you think all black people should be deported?

  29.  

    Funny stuff!!!

    Maybe McElwee was doing some research.

    That’s my tuppence worth. Or a pence if you will.

  30.  

    Bock – you repeatedly argued with my interpretation of what you said while simultaneously ignoring anything else I said in direct response to your questions. Then you argue that I’m more concerned with your language than the topic that was up for debate.

    It’s pure hypocrisy to suggest that I’m the one evading a debate on the issues and anyone who reads the (long and to most people tedious) back-and-forth between us can see that for themselves.

  31.  

    Adam, I think it is something of a pity that you would quote me on a site you know I am unable to respond to in order to clarify. It may have simply slipped your mind.

    My comment that McElwee burst into a room was not in fact refuted by McElwee himself as to burst into a room does not require that a door be closed. So no breaking in or breaking down need have been involved.Many people burst onto the stage for example, my phrase was that he entered the room without the consent of those there and in a sudden fashion, surprising them.

    Also another aspect that you’ve quoted yourself is that says he was bare from the waist down while another part says his trousers were open. It is possible that the incident with person 2 occurred first and then the incident with person 1. Of course this is the tedious legal sort of argument that can be twisted to suggest that we might be defending what was done. Not at all. It does occur to me that he may only have been wearing trousers with no under garments and had those trousers open. The problem is we at the remove of several years are trying to decode what happened in the real human sense from a couple of paragraphs constructed for the purpose of delivering a legal judgement.

  32.  

    Dan, it wasn’t a hostel and the girls were not travelling alone. The inquiry report published on Tuesday (which is available online) states that the offence took place at a hotel and the girls involved were part of ‘an American school touring party who were staying at the same hotel’. Elsewhere in the report it states there were 70 students in the group, the average age being 17. The ages of the girls involved are given as 18 and 16.

  33.  

    The report is linked to in the main body of the post.

    it’s HERE

  34.  

    I’m probably re-iterating what someone else has said, so apologies.

    He was convicted (as I undertsand it).

    He doesn’t work with kids directly (therefore could not be dismissed on that basis)

    His conviction does call into question his credibility as a lecturer on child safety, therefore his continued employment is a question for his employers. Why his employers were quite so….ineffective is an entirely different question

  35.  

    FROM THE REPORT:

    5.5.9. 25 June 2004 – Mr. MHB 1 was advised by telephone by Detective Sergeant GS 1 of the incident, it is disputed whether Detective Sergeant GS 1 indicated the ages of the young girls who were the subject of the alleged assault. MHB 1 states that Detective Sergeant GS 1 advised that the age profile of the students making the allegations was between 15 and 18 years.

    9.1.15. Inspector GS1 stated that it was when the issue broke in the summer of 2007 that it first came to his attention that one of the young girls was 15 years of age.

    9.2.13. CD asked Superintendent GS2 if it would be fair to say that if the reports from Holland had indicated that the age of the youngest girl was 15 years of age, a different response would have been triggered? Superintendent GS2 responded that it was a difficult question to answer. CD elaborated by saying that in
    his experience, when young persons are at risk and something is being perpetrated against a young person, the Gardai would promptly put in motion the appropriate procedures.

    9.2.7. CD stated that he has a translation of the judgement and an accompanying note which clearly state that one of the young people was 15 years of age. CD said that he understood that in Holland the prosecution system is somewhat different and he was unclear as to what detail would have been forwarded by the Dutch authorities.

    It is the case however that in the reports from the Gardai relating to the incidents, firstly Garda GS4’s report in The Hague and subsequently the two reports Sgt. GS1 delivered when he returned, the same formula of words would be used, “the Touring Party had an average age of 17”.

    Superintendent GS2 said that the reference to average age could have referred to the Touring Party or to the three that complained.

    Also Page 145.

  36.  

    Roisin, I was under the initial understanding that it was a hotel but couldn’t understand how access was gained to a locked hotel room. Then someone else here mentioned dorm room and someone said hostel to me and it seemed to explain that aspect, if it was a hotel then it was a hotel. You mention “The ages of the girls involved are given as 18 and 16.” while someone else has mentioned 15. In all honesty I think whether the fact that they were 16 or 15 matters much to the girls involved or to how they experienced this.

  37.  

    Dan, agreed the report needs very careful reading. I think the year or two in age really does make a difference because, although I wouldn’t presume to speak for all women, for me anyway, the first close-up sight of a penis was all the better for belonging to a trusted male as opposed to a drunken forcefully demanding loon more than twice ones age. And, in that case, a year or so could be crucial. Don’t know if the reverse is true – the reverse scenario might be every schoolboy’s dream but I doubt that really since the slang word for the female genitalia is the foulest insult that men (and sometimes women) fling at either sex. But that’s another subject.

  38.  

    Here’s a thing. I would stand in front of my daughter and wife if we were in the same room as Niall McElwee. The word arrogance has been used frequently in these comments. How arrogant is it to come online to these pages and talk about his conviction? How arrogant is that? Is arrogant the correct term? Should I think of him as brave? Am I sure that it is actually him speaking here in these comments? If it is him, his conviction in combination with a willingness to discuss it here leads me to believe that there is something more sinister lurking beneath his surface.

  39.  

    From reading both of these blogs (Bocks and Mulley’s) the same thing is happening here as what happens in childcare in general in Ireland. People are so caught up in who said what and how that they forget who is really important.

    Mr. McElwee performed acts upon underage girls and, as is clearly written in the court transcript whether “and/or” is there or not, did so through the threat of violence. This is worng no matter what job you work in but the high position he held in the area of Childcare brought about the media frenzy.

    The fact that Mr. McElwee states that we have all been let down by the HSE is not a lie, we are let down by the HSE everyday in more areas than Childcare, yet I think the main question for Mr. McElwee is whether he thinks he had any responsibility to inform AIT of what he had done. Continuing to lecture in the area hoping that the carpet was big enough for this to fit under was a wilful act of deceit.

    Hopefully some good will come from this report. In Childcare in Ireland there is a history of legislation coming into play after the holes in the system are shown. I know it has been mentioned in numerous reports before but the issue of inter-agency and inter-state work has come to the fore again. Perhaps in an era when we are seeing the issue of childrens rights getting the recognition they deserve this report and case will help the Irish legislators do something about it.

    I’ll get off my high horse now

  40.  

    I came on this blog in an attempt to give some personal voice to this debate because there has been so much misreporting of fact on blogs and in the general media. I expect people to hold a range of emotions, but I would ask that they look at the facts and not the sensationalist reporting on my case which has coloured things.

    There were, and are, many agendas against various people and Institutions which, I am sure, will continue to play out in various fora over the next few days or weeks. For example, the issue of the educational slides materials used whilst in Waterford over a decade ago (see Mamam Poulet’s site on this) was brought up last summer and reviewed in the Devine Report and has been mentioned in the media without actually looking to the submissions. I am taking legal advice on the reporting of this particular issue.

    It cannot fairly be described by ‘If I May’ in the blog above as ‘arrogant’ if I try to set the record straight on this or, indeed, other blogs.

    So, once again, I am sorry for what happened. I cannot undo it although I would give anything to…

    Now, to a central question: The reason I did not inform the College (having already informed the HSE and Gardai immediately on release from custody) was because I was acting under legal advice from specialist Lawyers that I did not have to do so. I have supporting documentation to prove this and these have been submitted to the Devine Report.
    Although it may seem unpalatable to commentarors, I was/am as entitled as any other citizen who finds himself in trouble (of my own doing…) to rely on professional advice.

    Would I change things in hindsight? Of course. One learns from experiences both positive and negative.

  41.  

    Niall: Maybe if you could itemise exactly what was misreported and what was correct it might clear up a lot of the confusion and avoid all this speculation.

    Sniffle: I don’t know if I’d call it arrogance. I try to keep this place as open as possible, and really I’d prefer to get Niall MCElwee’s version first hand rather than rely on some of the versions floating around the internet.

    Obviously, this page is open to any of the other protagonists as well, though I’m not sure if Bock the Robber is huge in Dutch policing circles.

  42.  

    Mr. McElwee you will find it was “Sniffle and Cry” who mentioned arrogance. I don’t find your replying in the least arrogant, in fact I applaude you for doing so in the midst of all the things you and your family are going through. I still find it hard to believe that you would continue in your position even with legal advice given the nature of your work. The media trial in the event of the case coming to light would have made it impossible for you to have continued in area.

  43.  

    The internet is a unique place. It facilitates debate which might never occur in public. The cloak of anonaminity affords a freedom to articulate and discuss. But for the debate to be credible, it must have integrity and be able to stand up to rigorous analysis, as any discussion has to, in someone’s house, in a pub or where-ever it is that we discuss stuff.

    So here’s another thing? Would I discuss a crime with the criminal who committed it?

    No I wouldn’t.

    I will discuss it with people whom I trust and whose opinions I value. I will discuss it with those whom I consider impartial, they help me learn more and inform my own view. I would never ask the perpetrator of a crime why they did it, because I could never trust their answer. I believe them to be compromised.

    So is this a real debate?

  44.  

    Missed your comment Bock, and of course I understand and respect that this is your site.

  45.  

    Well, I started reading and it seemed better than working… Seems Adam likes this better than working too!

    I certainly wouldn’t call him “authoritarian and part of the “PC Gestapo”” though Bock. I’d just call him a boring shite with too much time on his hands, and a dictionary up his arse.

  46.  

    Right, I’ve followed this for the past few days and now feel compelled to comment. I am the mum of a much loved duaghter of 14. Having siad that:
    This guy is/was a fuckwit. He seems to have got pissed on a jolly to Amsterdam – quelle suprise. It appears that, with a shed load of booze on board, he paraded through the corridors of an hotel and ended up barging through the door of a room with teenage girls. Was it pre-meditated – it seems not. Through a haze of drink did he stop to assess the age of the occpupants – clearly not. Was is appropriate to ask anybody to perform a ‘sex act’ on him – of course not. An opinion: Is it ‘grave’ – not in the grand scheme of things, there are so many bastards out there practicing sustained, evil, life destroying sexual abuse on children. Should he have lost his job – honestly I don’t know.

  47.  

    Sniffle: You’re fully entitled to your view on it.

    I think you know what worries me about this: most of us at one time or another have probably escaped some sort of conviction by a whisker. If you ever smoked a joint, you could be a convicted criminal now. If you ever drove over the limit you could be a convicted criminal now.

    If we were caught in any of a thousand offences, we’d be criminals too, but luckily we got away.

    Before Adam reappears with his mind-reading ball, this bit is not a comparison with Niall McElwee or a justification. This is a reflection on our own lives. Who among us — man or woman — hasn’t made some unwelcome sexual advance? Bear with me now, before anyone starts to howl. If the recipient of such sexual advances was frightened or disturbed as a result, might we not now be convicted criminals?

    Who hasn’t woken up, seen the Big Light and groaned “Oh dear Jesus, what did I do last night?”

  48.  

    BD: Careful. You might get parsed and analysed.

    Tango Granny: Going on my gut instinct, that’s how I felt about it from the start and nothing I’ve read so far has altered my perception. I might add that none of the other commentators have access to much in the way of hard facts either, and are therefore also going on what their gut tells them, whether they’d admit it or not.

  49.  

    Bock. I hope that you will appreciate it will take some time to run through the litany of misreporting in the past nine months. I will return to this again. I suppose the first point I want to make is that I had a professional life before the Amsterdam incident.

    I did not comment the first time around this story broke (i.e. July and August 2007) out of respect to my family’s privacy who were placed in a terrible position but, clearly, few people seem to care a toss about that despite the frequent protestations around ‘protection issues’. When we arrived home from our trip to Scotland, we were met at the Airport by a television camera crew who were heard by several people stating “Get a shot of the wife and child”. They had done nothing wrong but made for cannon fodder. Would any of your readers care about that?

    As I said, I called the Gardai and HSE myself after the Amsterdam incident in June 2004. This is one of the routes my case found its way into officialdom in the first place. It seems to me that this is very important in terms of doing what I thought I was supposed to do.

    You asked about misreporting. I have placed an extensive piece on MP’s blog around my use of educational slides in the 1990s and am awaiting it to be uploaded or whatever the correct terminology is for Bloggers… Perhaps you could copy it and paste it here at some stage.

    Some commentators have, to take another example, cited a “serious concern” that was raised against me in 1997. This involved a piece of research I was co-conducting with several colleagues where I allegedly bought a bottle of Budweiser for an 18 year old before an interview (who has been referred to as a young person). Now, in both the research and legal worlds, an 18 year old is an adult. Thus, to even bring this up as a concern seems to me crazy!

    The methodology of that study was checked by a colleague with a Doctorate and significant field experience and, separately, by a Lawyer. I maintain that I have never bought any of my hundreds of interviewees overt the years any alcohol and I am aware of other researchers who either gave interviewees money (to buy whatever they wanted!) or rewards such as vouchers.

    But, it is the drip/drip effect of trying to thread these “serious concerns” together to paint a picture of me that I find puzzling. I worked at the forefront of social care trying to push out boundaries of applied social care research and the early 1990s saw the bridge of the movement from Regional Technical Colleges to Institutes of Technologies with new working methodologies and expectations. Indeed, I was promoted for my industrious work efforts -although some colleagues were more than upset that I got promoted in a fair and open environment having applied for the promotions and sat at interviews as had they.

    So, in all my ‘story’ there are agendas – some hidden and some not so. In the comments by anonymous sources, there are agendas.

    I do not try to excuse my intoxicated behaviour in Amsterdam four years ago, I only wish for a more honest debate where people come off their high horses etc…One person who commented publicly on my behaviour has a conviction for drunk driving. Imagine if he had knocked someone down and injured or killed them and yet he feels ok with lambasting me…Let’s be honest in all of this mess.

  50.  

    Andrew: I read the document you refer to (Trust in Care) and, though it seems to be an excellent document, it appears to deal only with the abuse of patients and clients by staff members.

    There’s a very specific statement in the preamble as follows.

    This document is exclusively concerned with these issues in the context of the employment relationship.

    It seems that the definition of abuse in that document is exclusively for the purpose of regulating the behaviour of staff towards patients and clients.

    Therefore, since no patient or client was abused, the HSE would be in error if it had relied on this document to pursue disciplinary action against Niall McElwee.

    Am I correct in that interpretation of the document?

  51.  

    I agree with Mr. McElwee in his call for an honest debate where he can answer all the questions related to this case. this would be a very difficult thing to do as we would have bias and media to contend with.

    I find it a great pity that social care in Ireland will no longer, I suspect, have Mr. McElwee to push the boundaries or fight for the professionalisation of the area. His work has made significant changes in the area over the years.

    That said, the offence was against a person under the age of 18. And drunk or not it is an offence.

  52.  

    Whatever he did, dont’ you think it is a disgrace that the HSE knew and then went on to employ him to work in child protection? The HSE has always been a disaster but this takes the biscuit

  53.  

    I find it bogus in the extreme, to hear Niall McElwee refer to his conviction as “Intoxicated behaviour”. Personally, I’d characterise it as attempted rape or somewhere along the attempted spectrum.

  54.  

    Niall,

    You are the one who placed your wife and child in this awful position, not the media and not anyone else. You and only you. Time to grow up!

  55.  

    RE: If I may, you initially said

    “Mr. McElwee performed acts upon underage girls and, as is clearly written in the court transcript whether “and/or” is there or not, did so through the threat of violence.”

    and then
    “That said, the offence was against a person under the age of 18. And drunk or not it is an offence.”

    It is/was an offence irrespective of the ages involved but being under 18 is not ‘underage’ with regard to offenses of a sexual nature. Underage has a specific meaning related to the age of consent.

    Sniffle, I doubt that most fathers would be ok with this behavior if their daughters were 15 or 25.

  56.  

    Dan:
    Could you clarify for me the point of your last comment. Children are persons below the age of 18, and in Ireland the age of consent is 17. In Holland it is 16. Therefore, if the girl was 15 you can see where I’m going.

    With regards to age of consent I don’t think “consent” is a word that relates to this case with the information we have.

    And my point was that it was an offence no matter what age but for a man that was at the foremost of childrens protection issues, and fought for vetting to be more inforced, to commit an act such as this and attempt to remain in his position was crazy.

  57.  

    Hi Bock, Absolutely right the Trust in Care document deal only with the abuse of patients and clients by staff members. But the definitions of sexual abuse in the document are ones most people would agree with.

  58.  

    The 15 year old wasn’t neither person 1 nor person 2, so the act for which he was convicted didn’t involve them. They were present in the room from what we understand.

    We do have a problem with terms such as women, girls, young adults, children being used somewhat interchangeably. To a parent they will always be your children but to the state they 100% stop being children at 18 and in some regards they aren’t children before that. It is something of a mess but it is as we have made it. We could make life a lot more easy if we had everything tagged to 18 but we could be simply creating other problems.

    So the point I was making is that when you say underage girls people generally understand that to mean under the age of consent, not under 18.

  59.  

    @badgerdaddy:

    Well, I started reading and it seemed better than working… Seems Adam likes this better than working too!

    Only had work on yesterday morning so was free the rest of the day – beat playing solitaire anyway!

    I certainly wouldn’t call him “authoritarian and part of the “PC Gestapo”” though Bock. I’d just call him a boring shite with too much time on his hands, and a dictionary up his arse.

    Should I use less big words next time or something?

    @Bock:
    Before Adam reappears with his mind-reading ball, this bit is not a comparison with Niall McElwee or a justification. This is a reflection on our own lives. Who among us — man or woman — hasn’t made some unwelcome sexual advance? Bear with me now, before anyone starts to howl. If the recipient of such sexual advances was frightened or disturbed as a result, might we not now be convicted criminals?

    I’m not going to go over the dispute we’ve already had in this area; I’d just like to point out the obvious by saying that there’s a difference between unwelcome sexual advances (like being sleazed over in a bar) and something that would warrant a criminal conviction – I doubt many readers here are guilty of making unwelcome sexual advances to the point of them being illegal.

    For what it’s worth I think that McElwee deserved to lose his job given the relevance of the offence to his profession – had he been working in a different position I’d reassess that. Likewise if he was charged with possession of marijuana I’d see no reason for him to lose the job he had – but if his job was teaching children about the dangers of drugs I’d reassess that again.

    @Sniffle&Cry:
    I find it bogus in the extreme, to hear Niall McElwee refer to his conviction as “Intoxicated behaviour”.

    I also find it to be quite a dismissive phrase to use considering the details on the charge sheet. Ask most people what “Intoxicated behaviour” refers to and they’d probably refer to being louder than normal, slurring your speech and falling around a lot.

    Maybe it’s not his intention but it seems to imply that evil alcohol is to blame for his actions and nothing else – I for one don’t ever buy the suggestion that alcohol makes us do things that are otherwise against our nature.

    Do I find him to be arrogant? Not exactly – I would say there’s a slight hypocrisy in him calling for an honest debate when he’s not exactly falling over himself to clarify just what happened on the night in question (at least not here).

    Of course he’s not obliged to do so and he’s not the only one that can detail this – I just don’t find his input conducive to making an open and honest debate that much easier that it already was.

    @Roisin:
    You are the one who placed your wife and child in this awful position, not the media and not anyone else. You and only you. Time to grow up!

    I think that’s entirely unfair – McElwee’s family don’t deserve to have their privacy invaded just because they’re related to someone who did something wrong.

    The media may see a public interest in the individual in question but there’s no public interest in what their family look like or are doing.

    If a close relative of yours was under media scrutiny for doing something similar* would you see it as fair game for you to be hounded too?

    * Hopefully you or your family never do find themselves in such a position but just for the sake of the hypothetical.

  60.  

    Just to add to what I said in response to Bock (too late to edit) – I don’t think people felt McElwee should lose his job just because he committed a crime, it was because of the nature of the crime and the nature of his work.

    That’s how I feel, anyway.

  61.  

    The man stands convicted in a court of law. I imagine it’s safe to presume that he did not appeal or that if he did that appeal was not successful?

    I don’t buy the old “It was the dhrink, your Honour!” defence. It’s been used as an excuse by wife beaters and brawlers and skobes and drivers and murderers and rapists since time began.

    To make an analogy, what this man did is the professional equivalent to an archaeologist destroying Newgrange with a bulldozer. It beggars belief.

    The media have no right to photograph his family, it’s prurient in the extreme, but they would have had no interest in them were it not for his conviction in the Netherlands.

  62.  

    Fair enough so. He had his penis in his hand, asking a person under the age of 18 to “suck” it and pressing himself against another, again with his penis exposed, whilst in the presence of a 15 year old. Is that not a child protection issue in itself?

    And I apologise to anyone that read “age of consent ” into my use of the word “underage”. For me underage in the context of this blog means under 18, I wasn’t thinking of “consent” in relation to the use of force.

    I think I’ll finish posting here as this is turning into a discussion of peoples use of terms rather than a discussion of the report.

  63.  

    Ok. I appreciate everyone’s views on this blog although several of my points have not been picked up. I have said I would do things differently in hindsight and that I realise the gravity of my offences. I menioned that I was intoxicated simply because I was. No doubt if I left that detail out, I would be accused of trying to hide that fact too!

    Adam is right. My actions were mine and journalists and bloggers like to keep throwing around the terms ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shameful’ so I consider it disgraceful and shameful to try to film or photograph my wife and child who have never done anything untoward.

    And, just because I was convicted does not make everything I ever say or write until the day I die invalid (my demise couldn’t come quick enough for some I’m sure).

    Let me return to me not leaving my post at the College post conviction as this seems to be a major point for some. As it happens, (a) I was deliberately working more and more in the area of business research, (b) I worked only with adult learners at all times and (c) I was in consultations around leaving my post at the Athlone Institute of Technology and working in a different area the very week before the story was leaked. Coincidental?

  64.  

    Originally, I wasn’t going to comment on this post because I knew nothing about it, but this story is everywhere in Irish blogging at the moment so I learnt a wee bit more about the McElwee case.

    My point has nothing to do with Mr. McElwee himself but with the media reporting of it. With the use of emotive language and structure too many Irish journalists have tried to make a sensation out of this case rather than merely report the facts. Reporters should report, full stop. If they don’t, it makes it very difficult for the reader to discover the real facts from reading the morning newspaper, without having to go searching for source materials yourself.

    Well done on making a good case for the need to be factual and objective in reporting the news – increasingly important when discussing a case involving sex and child protection and a man’s career. A lot’s at stake and it’s important to get it right whichever way that turns out to be.

  65.  

    I’m with Tango Granny.

  66.  

    If I may, you ask if it was a child protection issue and I would say it probably was.

    I would repeat the issue of consent had nothing to do with this. As you said yourself when force is involved consent isn’t present. However, when you say under-age there is has to be some actual age under which the person is. If we were talking about drinking under-age would be u18 if we were talking about the army under-age would be u17.

    There is nothing for you to be apologising for.

  67.  

    There are many who’ve done far far worse than Mr McElwee and retained their positions and their wealth though thankfully they’ve lost most of their moral authority. I speak of the roman catholic church and the religious orders who, when confronted with appalling abuses against children, covered-up the abuses and facilitated the abusers by moving them around from Institution to institution etc.

    The fact that Mr McElwee can appear here, and elsewhere, accepting responsibility for his actions says plenty about his honesty and I hope that he is successful in rebuilding his reputation.

  68.  

    Adam, if he had done the honourable thing and resigned his position after the crime, or even after conviction for the crime, the story would not have broken in such a way. Even given that he had not resigned, he could easily have acted to protect his family by not travelling with them back into the media circus which had developed. I have never seen photographs of his wife or child in any newspaper or film of them on television nor do I wish to. Were such photographs ever published or shown?

    If my husband had committed such an offence, holding such a professional position, and not faced the music and resigned, and the media had found out while I was out of the country with him, then I think I would have felt fair game to be surrounded by a media scrum on return to the country with him. My anger would have been at him for walking me into that situation. But all relationships are different. And if newspapers used photos of his family, they were way out of line and should be brought before the Press Council.

    Niall, I would guess that most people hope that you find other work that will utilise your talents and that you will again contribute much. We all make mistakes. Yours meant that you have to let go of the particular career track that you were on. Yes, your lawyers, the HSE etc., should have helped you realise that from the get go. Yes, perhaps people were jealous of your achievements and were especially mean and vindictive. That’s, unfortunately, par for the course in many professions and makes many people have miserable working lives and it’s wrong. But those are side issues in your case. It’s good that you say you have other career tracks in mind. I really hope you will be able to put this behind you and move on.

  69.  

    I don’t understand why an academic who didn’t work with children should have had to resign.

    He wasn’t convicted of an offence against minors.

    He didn’t meet the standards he was lecturing in, but as he wasn’t in charge of anybody, what was the objection to his continued employment? Was it the fact that he could be called a hypocrite?

    I didn’t know we sacked people for hypocrisy. In fact, if we dismissed people for hypocrisy, there would hardly be a person still employed in the land. Without doubt, we wouldn’t have a single politician.

    If he had been a lecturer in civil engineering and designed a building that fell down, would he have been forced to quit?

  70.  

    Bock,

    At the heart of how this unusual and pretty much ground-breaking thread got going is the feeling that you possibly have that a drunken man exposing himself and attempting to force himself on females is okay as long as they are not minors, he does not batter them and he does not achieve penetration. Will stand corrected if I am wrong.

    You ask if he had been a lecturer in civil engineering and designed a building that fell down, would he have been forced to quit? If people had been injured, then who would have paid him to lecture or design again?

    And, although I appreciate that you don’t seem to be able to see this, being forced to engage in sexual contact or being threatened with it, is actual and real injury. You may not understand this but Niall McElwee, more than most, understands it. The court in Holland understood it.

    If any of his students who were all vetted in order to enter the child protection field were found to have a similar conviction for a similar sexual offence against another person noone would have said, ah the victim wasn’t a minor and sure, weren’t you blotto and anyway, no harm done. The reality is that they wouldn’t have made it onto the course. How then could you expect that students, in his care, could be expected to accept education and be guided by someone with such a conviction?

  71.  

    Róisín:

    This thread got going because somebody tried to tell me my questions weren’t legitimate.

    This is an attempt to place Niall McElwee’s offence in its proper context. An attempt to find out if the punishment and the public reaction are proportionate to the crime.

    I’m attempting to foster a rational debate on the subject, not a discussion driven by rage or self-righteousness, and that won’t be achieved by saying things everyone agrees with.

    You should draw no conclusions about my personal view from the propositions I might make here. They’re intended to provoke discussion and reflection. In reality, the ramifications of this case are so significant that my personal views are of little consequence.

    I intend to write a third post, inviting people to discuss the implications of the McElwee case for the way the rest of us conduct our personal ives.

  72.  

    Adam: Yes, please. And if you could give the pomposity and self-righteous tone a tweak, that would be great. At the moment, it appears to be turned up to 11.

  73.  

    BD: I agree. There’s usually a single-syllable Anglo-Saxon word that means exactly the same as its Latinate cousin, and we should all try to follow Fowler’s advice on preferring the short word to the long where possible.

    It makes for less pompous writing, but that’s a discussion for another day. I can feel a post coming on about the historical reasons for linguistic snobbery.

    For some reason, I also find it irritating to have my words quoted back at me paragraph by paragraph. It’s a lazy and opportunistic way to debate. Indeed, it feels as if it’s not so much a debate as a cross-examination, and before long anyone’s patience will run out when subjected to that sort of discourtesy.

  74.  

    “He wasn’t convicted of an offence against minors.”-Bock

    Exactly. And I’m getting a bit exasperated with what’s going on here. I don’t see any connection between his job and his offence. I see no evidence that Mr McElwee has any particular sexual interest in minors, and no evidence that he had reason to think that any of the girls were minors.

    What he did must have been disgusting for the girls in question – that’s not in doubt. But Roisin seems to be suggesting up above that the difference between 16 and 18 is huge in terms of trauma to the girls. I find that hard to believe. These days.

    When I was 14, I was barely past climbing trees and tearing around on a bike. Nowadays girls of 14 are becoming mothers. In my secondary school, there was not one single pregnancy during my five years there. Nowadays there are several every year and nobody bats an eyelid. Times have changed – a lot. Girls of 16 are not as naive as Roisin seems to think. Yes, trauma. Yes, shock. Yes – of course it shouldn’t have happened!! But I doubt if they’re scarred for life – or anything remotely close to it.

    Adam says, “I for one don’t ever buy the suggestion that alcohol makes us do things that are otherwise against our nature.”

    Of course it does. Alcohol greatly reduces our inhibitions – as you’ll see when intoxicated people imagine they can sing or dance like pros. It also makes them sleep with people they otherwise wouldn’t be seen dead with. And if you don’t know this, you’ve been living in a closet. But it’s not an acceptable excuse for crime.

    Roisin says, “being forced to engage in sexual contact or being threatened with it, is actual and real injury.”

    I’m not at all clear that anyone was “forced to engage in sexual contact” or even what you mean by that. E.G. if a man exposes himself to you in the local park, is that “sexual contact”?? The customary female response to that situation is to laugh at the indvidual and walk on … And as far as I’m concerned, young women now are far better equipped to deal with such behaviour than I was at that age.

    For the record, I’ve reared a family and had housefuls of teenagers on many an occasion. I’ve heard them talk, and talked to them myself. What I’d like to see here (but it’s unlikely) are a few reactions from 16-18 year old girls – how seriously they’d rate Mr McElwee’s behaviour, and whether his job should have been in question. I think there’s a lot of self-righteous pomposity going on here. I’d love to know how many commenters made complete and utter fools of themselves while under the influence, but were lucky enough not to end up in court.

    And yes, trying to photograph Mr McElwee’s family was disgusting. And typical of some/many of that profession. Maybe we should be exercising ourselves on that subject (which is so prevalent in our society) instead of getting into a lather about one foolish drunken man, who has probably paid a penalty several times over at this stage …

  75.  

    Without trying to be biblical about this, Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I am not sure of the gravity or severity of Mr. McElwee’s actions but what is clear is that he received an appropriate sentence (please lets not open this debate) from the Dutch legal system. At what point should our “drunken” actions impact the rest of our lives. How many of us have made crude or rude gestures, statements or actions in the past and how may of us have paid for them with livelihoods. If Mr. McElwee was a danger to others then he would be serving a custodial sentence right now. Up to his conviction he appeared to be competent at his position. Should this one act have cost him a career? Perhaps his employers may have moved him to a less high profile position or to a position where he would not have been required to deal with children or young adults. In my humble opinion I beleive this is another trial by media case (which is now a very frequent occurance in Ireland). Alls that we are short is a hysterical group screaming “won’t somebody pleae think of the children”.
    I say grow up. Mr. Mc Elwee has received his sentence for his actions. His employers should evaluate his job, his competence and take advice from other competent peope as to his suitability for continued employment and not listen to the hysterical rantings of a media driven by column inches and hits.

  76.  

    Sorry guys but holding a person, a stranger, by the head, under 18 or not, with your penis in your hand saying”suck me baby” and laying on top of a girl, again exposed, is a little more than “crude or rude gestures” or making a fool of yourself whilst under the influence.

    As far as a person whose career is based upon the protection of children being moved to an area where it wouldn’t involve children or young adults would be a pretty difficult thing for a college to deal with. There was a 3 year gap in which he could have moved his career in a different direction and perhaps the fall out, if it would ever have come about, would have been a lot less for himself and his family. Whether under legal advice or not he must have known the reaction this news was going to get. I know he posted here earlier but being in talks the week the news broke was a little late.

  77.  

    I agree with Nora, teenagers now know so much more than my generation did at the same age. It could be argued that this is a good thing as it acts, in some ways, as a protection.

    Going by what I hear from my daugther and her friends this guy would have been laughed at more than anyting else.

    In the 70’s, on my way home from school, there was a guy who very regularly waved his penis at us girls. I guess in todays parlance that could be viewd as ‘abuse’. I don’t feel abused now and did not at the time. Even with my limited understanding then he was an object of pity.

  78.  

    This wasn’t in any way comparable to a case of a flasher in a park. And yes, I know that some young girls are quite wordly at that young age but some certainly aren’t. Possibly the drinking age in Ireland being at 18 makes many somewhat more wordly here than some might be in America, where the drinking age is 21.

    When I said that real injury was caused by the actions of this man, I was referring to the fact, that while there be no blood, the effect in itself, and this was a hands on, restraining approach in one case, is an injury to the well being, peace of mind and sense of safety of the victims and can be a very haunting and traumatic experience that has significant impact throughout a victim’s life. We have the benefit of hindsight looking at this, but when people are in the midst of such an event, they don’t know how it is going to end. At any rate, a conviction was handed down.

    Am totally flummoxed by the fact that ‘ he wasn’t convicted of an offence against minors’ holds such sway with some of those posting here. He was not making a living working in a creche or taking kids camping. He was a well-respected lecturer on the issue of protecting children and teenagers from drugs and prostitution. He has a conviction in respect of sexual offence against teenagers which happened while he was drunk. Should that force him to abandon that field of work? Forgive me for using (now dated) teenage speak but Duh! That said, I hope he finds some other field to work in and gets on with his life.

  79.  

    IIM: We need to be precise here because the details are so important.

    As far as I can see, the conviction doesn’t state that Niall McElwee did the things you describe.

    He was convicted of forcing someone …

    to perform and,/or endure a lewd act

    That’s forcing someone to perform, or endure, or both.

    I’m presuming that “to endure” in this context means “to witness” but I’m open to correction if anyone knows better.

    and/or attempting to bring the head of (named person 1) to his crotch

    That’s not helpful to our understanding because it’s too imprecise. It could mean violently grabbing someone by the head or it could mean reaching towards them. It’s a pity we’re not told which it is. However, you seem fairly sure it was the former, so if you could let me have the source of the information I’ll publish it here for completeness.

    He also was not convicted of lying on top of anyone. He was convicted of …

    lying down in bed with (named person 2) with the front of his trousers opened

    and/or forcing her to endure that he, the defendant, was lying down against her with the front of his trousers opened.

    The language is central and I haven’t yet heard anyone saying exactly what “and/or” means in Dutch law.

    In English, it’s a frightened version of “or”.

  80.  

    Róisín: The nature of the conviction holds such sway because people are attempting to complete the logical connection between his offence and his punishment. I had hoped we could do better than Duh! in this discussion.

  81.  

    At the back of my mind I feel the Dutch courts got it perfectly right. Given the facts, as they seem to have been presented, they would have to find him guilty. Three months, suspended, is about par for the course these days. No previous, drunk (absolutely no excuse though, speaking as one who knows heavy drink and full memory…), good job, remorse (I assume), etc. etc…

    BUT…

    For having a wife and child back in Ireland while the events were unfolding I’d give him a good kick in the arse.
    Or even 3 months worth of arse kicking.
    What an eejit.

  82.  

    Bock: I think perhaps “to endure” does not mean “to witness” as if that were the case his conviction would have included the other girls that were present at the time.

    In relation to the language, if someone reaches towards or actually grabs a persons head “through violence” towards his exposed penis that is an offence. Named person 2 had Mr. McElwee lay against her whilst holding her hands or wrists again with the lower part of his body exposed. If you can say that the use of the “and/or” in this case may not mean hands or wrists please show me how.

    Do you really compare these actions to “unwelcome sexual advances”?

  83.  

    IIM: It isn’t in doubt that he committed an offence.

    I’m trying to make sure we talk about the exact offence and determine precisely what the terminology means instead of relying on vague impressions. It doesn’t help if we end up discussing things that aren’t on the conviction document.

    “And/or” means “or”. Why didn’t they just say “and”, which would remove any ambiguity? As worded, the document doesn’t categorically state that he restrained the girl’s hands or wrists. It simply allows for the possibility that he did. Don’t blame me for that: I didn’t write it. I just read it.

    As regards comparing his actions to unwelcome sexual advances, what makes you think there’s some hidden rhetorical undercurrent in what I say?

    All I’m telling you is that I haven’t yet seen enough to convince me one way or the other, and to judge by some of the comments here, neither have many other people, women as well as men.

    I’ll be expanding on this in the next post, where hopefully we can get away from Niall McElwee and onto the broader issue of personal behaviour.

  84.  

    Good holy Jaaysus

    When I clicked on the thread I thought I would see some manner of cohesive argument – mmmmm – instead it looks like a meeting of the ‘Pedantic Pat’ brigade.

    Is what he did wrong? Yes

    Should he have done it? Fuck, no.

    Did he go to court? Yes

    Was he convicted of a crime? Yes

    Did he tell the HSE? Yes

    Should he have told his employer? Fuck, yes

    Should he have retained his position in the role he was in? That would only be for his employers to decide.

    Should he have the opportunity to come onto this site and comment on his treatment in the press and other media outlets? Of course – last time I looked we aren’t living in China.

    Will some Pedantic Pat come on after me and tear apart every nuance of my choice of words? Probably.

    I’m not going to read any more of this thread – it’s boring. (Apologies, Bock)

  85.  

    Adam: Yes, please. And if you could give the pomposity and self-righteous tone a tweak, that would be great. At the moment, it appears to be turned up to 11

    I don’t think it’s fair to call someone pompous or self-righteous because they use certain words in a debate.

    I personally don’t go out of my way to use “bigger” words but at the same time I don’t seek to use “normal” ones just to avoid the potential of being seen as pompous.

    I use the words that I think best capture what I’m trying to say and I won’t make excuses for that. It may be the case that other words aren’t of the right extreme, or are too extreme, for the point being made. I’m also of the view that it’s best to make a point in as few words as possible (that’s not always clear from my very long comments, I know) – usually using one “big” word can mean you don’t have to use three small ones elsewhere.

    To be honest I think you criticising someone for using big words is about as constructive as criticising someone’s argument because they mis-spelt a part of it.

    @Bock:
    For some reason, I also find it irritating to have my words quoted back at me paragraph by paragraph. It’s a lazy and opportunistic way to debate.

    When you’re involved in a discussion that features long posts back and forward I find it easiest to break things down like that – it allows you to respond to each point individually rather than just have a long list of disconnected retorts or comments in one confusing chunk.

    I fail to see how it’s lazy or opportunistic to take someone’s argument point-by-point.

    If he had been a lecturer in civil engineering and designed a building that fell down, would he have been forced to quit?

    If someone designed a building that fell down because of a design flaw then I’d imagine people would expect the designer (the person responsible for the flaw) to pay the price, yes.

  86.  

    He didn’t call you pompous or self-righteous. He said your tone was pompous and self-righteous, which it is. You’ll have to work on spotting these subtle distinctions.

    And you’re still doing that irritating little quote thing.

  87.  

    I come across Niall McElwee a couple of times in Athlone and I admired him for what he achieved in his life. I do think that the media has turned from informing us of issues to entertaining us. I have no doubt that Niall McElwee should have lost his job. I neither have any doubt in the way that he handled the entire situation under extreme pressure. I’m sure protecting his family was his main priority. There are no winners here only losers, the young girls in Amsterdam, Niall McElwee and his family, the educational system which Niall was part of, social care and the public in general in the way we have allowed our media to develop.

  88.  

    Where is he now?

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