It’s been a funny old year, hasn’t it? A year of three halves, you might say.
Ireland won the Six Nations in a fitting finale to BOD’s career and the women’s rugby team beat New Zealand. Katie Taylor won a fifth consecutive world boxing title while Andy Lee won his first.
Ivor Callely went to jail, which is always good for a little schadenfreude chuckle, but the country sighed a collective groan of disappointment that Seanie Fitz didn’t follow him to the slammer.
To our credit, we told Garth Brooks to fuck off, despite his cringe-inducing country ‘n’ western speech about crawling and begging , but Bono somehow crawled through the net, entering your head from your newly-bought Apple product, like an insipid, lecturing little chest-burster with less personality. A self-righteous ear-worm sans pareil. He surfaced again later in the year with a badly-received reprise of his 1985 shared ego-wank with Geldof, Do They Know It’s Christmas? which went down like a bag of Ebola with Africans everywhere. Not that I’m suggesting all this karma threw Bono off his bike in Central Park or anything like that, but sometimes it’s nice to fantasize.
We had Pantigate, in which a self-important bunch of ultra-right Catholics huffed and puffed at RTE after Rory O’Neill, aka Miss Panti, spoke the truth about how he felt. And RTE caved in under their vacuous legal threats, handing out a huge pile of licence-payers’ cash to people who would never have sued if they had been challenged by a broadcasting company with any backbone. Many among us speculated that there might be something rotten at the heart of our national broadcaster, but in the end, the real loser was the absurd Iona Institute which came out of the whole debacle looking even more ridiculous than when it went in, even if it was a few bob better off.
Meanwhile, Rory went on to international acclaim for his magnificent Noble Call as the entire world acknowledged his experience of homophobia.
It probably wasn’t David Quinn’s greatest triumph as a PR mastermind.
It wasn’t a great year for the Guards, or Ministers for Justice. Surprisingly, the formerly socially-aware Alan Shatter allowed himself to be drawn into a petty row, revealing a small-minded side to his character few of us suspected when he tried to score a political point against independent TD Mick Wallace by revealing private information he could only have received from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan. It reminded the nation yet again that committed radical campaigners become embedded in the establishment when they move over to the dark side.
Unfortunately for Shatter and for Callinan, both of them would be gone in the blink of an eye. Callinan could hardly have suspected that his gung-ho performance before a Dáil committee would provoke such a public outcry and he certainly would never have foreseen the dreadful moment when he had to decommission himself, but that’s what happened. Likewise, Shatter could hardly have imagined, in his ultimate hubris, that he too would be dragged down. In many ways it was unfortunate, since Shatter was the first ever justice minister prepared to take on the vested interests of the legal professions and break the monopoly that has prevented so many citizens from obtaining justice.
It was the year of the CRC scandal, in which all charities were unfairly tainted A spin-off of the Fianna Fáil Drumcondra Mafia, the Central Remedial Clinic damaged the fundraising efforts of every legitimate charity in the country.
And it was the year of Rehab, when the entire country recoiled at the snout-in-the-trough attitude of certain organisations. As a by-product, the well-intentioned report into the CRC gave us a world-beating example of Hiberno-officialese, the local and even more impenetrable variant of a worldwide barrier to understanding.
Meanwhile, here in Limerick, things were hotting up on the cultural front, with a ludicrous confrontation in a local hotel. A farce within a farce, wherein the usual local sectoral interests jockeyed for position in a parochial power-play. A joke in which a local impresario tried vainly to exclude the press. A comedy in which the same impresario vainly wandered around the crowded room with the roving microphone in search of the plant who was supposed to speak out on his behalf but who found himself on the wrong end of a pint down in the bar and forgot to turn up.
As things worked out, the popular uprising made for a far better year in Limerick, with the apparatchiks and the opportunists talking a back seat for the time being. It was an event that not only vindicated Karl Wallace’s vision, but provoked profound questions. Naturally, of course, those who had sneered at the idea of Royal DeLuxe were the first to march in the public parade when the iconic Granny strode the streets of Limerick. I thought Pat Cox looked very fetching in his t-shirt as he waved at the crowds.
In the end, we emerged stronger from it, with new connections, new entanglements and new collaborations that we’ll carry into the future thanks to our new friendships.
Louise O’Keeffe won a groundbreaking decision in the European Court of Human Rights, forcing the State to accept responsibility for abusive teachers in Irish primary schools. It was a hugely-significant decision, since it forced the State to accept responsibility for schools that for years had been regarded as owned by the Catholic church.
Sadly, the government offered a deeply inadequate settlement to the victims of teachers in these schools, leading Louise O’Keeffe to describe the offer as discrimination of the highest order. This case hasn’t gone away, by the look of things.
This was the year of the local elections, when candidates sought your vote to do things they had no authority over. This was the year when anti-everything candidates asked you to vote them into office even though what they claimed they’d do had no connection whatever with the role of a councillor. Here in Limerick, we decided to put forward a proper local candidate, John Steele.
To quote from his literature
Unlike the council candidates who fraudulently claim to have some role in education, policing, agriculture, fisheries, employment, social welfare or water supplies, John Steele admits that a councillor has no power, no authority and no influence.
Steele’s challenging campaign poster pushed a simple message. Vote for John Steele. He’ll do fuck-all.
It touched a chord among the public and the candidate would have swept the boards if it hadn’t been for his drunken indifference.
Next time, a decision has been taken to put forward a sober candidate with no policies who promises to do nothing.
Sadly, 2014 continued Ireland’s disgraceful treatment of women. A young pregnant rape victim seeking asylum was prevented from travelling for abortion and instead was detained, force fed until the foetus was viable and then the girl was forcibly cut open against her will to deliver the child of her rapist.
That was because doctors were terrified of the 8th amendment to the constitution, just as they were when later they kept a decomposing dead woman on a ventilator as a human incubator.
This is the year when we discover that 800 babies were dumped into a hole in the ground by nuns at Tuam and as the year ends, Irish people are beginning to realise that the constitutional imperatives imposed on them by extreme religious ideologues have failed to serve the country well.
Internationally, the Israeli murder of Gaza citizens was as usual misrepresented as a war. The continued genocide was accompanied by an unrelenting propaganda assault by the Hasbara, denying what was obvious to anyone with eyes in their head: defenceless people were being killed by an overwhelming military force. It all depended on selling the Big Lie, which Israel is quite adept at doing, but ultimately the Liar’s Manual was inadvertently released, to the disgust of the Israeli Authorities. Taking a dispassionate view, the Global Language Dictionary was a masterpiece of doublespeak, even if it meant dismembering innocent children in the name of Israeli nationalism. It appeared on BTR here.
Lots more happened besides this, but this is a random selection from Bock the Robber and you know what? If you think I should have written some more, why don’t you do it yourself?