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Favourites Society

Aosdána — Time To End The Farce

Aosdána is tainted and should be abolished.  We can’t afford it, and the people who benefit from membership don’t deserve it.  Aosdána is a private club, an association for a set of cronies who like to call each other Artists.  It was set up by a dishonest snob at a time when the country was broke, and some of its members continue to receive a stipend from the State at a time when the country is again bankrupt.

The whole thing is straight out of a bad fantasy novel, with ludicrous archaic  titles for its members.  Here, for example is their procedure for electing a Saoi (Wise One):

Members of Aosdána may receive the honour of Saoi. This is for singular and sustained distinction in the arts. The members of Aosdána elect a Saoi. The President of Ireland confers the symbol of the office of Saoi, the gold Torc. Not more than seven members of Aosdána may hold this honour at any one time.

I saw a ceremony like that in Star Trek once, but what would you expect from something set up by a ridiculous little snob like Charlie Haughey, who called his own yacht Celtic Mist?  An appropriate name, I always thought, from a man obsessed with keeping the country in a fog of confusion while he robbed it blind.

Haughey set up Aosdána in 1981 for two reasons.

The first was to create a monument to his own enormous vanity. A deeply insecure cultural fraud, Haughey liked to be seen as a patron of the Arts (with a capital A).  In reality, he was a vulgar bully without principle or scruple.  A thief and a cynic, Haughey routinely looted the national coffers to bestow largesse on what he considered appropriate causes.

Thus, he provided Dingle with a marina, supported by taxpayers’ money at a time when the country was in a desperate fiscal state.  As a result, Haughey was regarded as a benefactor in that town, and every year travelled there to fire the starting gun at their regatta.  It mattered nothing that the money Haughey diverted to help Dingle was taken away from some other deserving community.  Haughey’s image as the local squire was secure, and paid for by the rest of us.

Likewise, Aosdána provided him with a gloss of enlightened patronage and allowed him to rub shoulders with the sort of self-regarding loveys he secretly admired.  Of course, as time has gone on, Aosdána has become a smug, self-congratulatory clique.  A hymn to banality.  A mob to howl down anyone daring to criticise its members.  Most recently, Aosdána disgraced itself by closing ranks against anyone who questioned Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s adventures with very poor boys in Nepal, and continues to deny that any wrongdoing whatever took place.  Indeed, one of Ó Searcaigh’s fellow Aosdána members, Paddy Bushe, recently made a film attempting to refute the facts reported in Fairytale of Kathmandu, the original documentary exposing Ó Searcaigh’s antics in the Himalayas.

The other reason Haughey set up Aosdána was to provide a smokescreen — a Celtic mist, if you like — distracting attention from his cynical manipulation of State funds for his own benefit, and his wholesale acceptance of bribes from every quarter of Irish business, which he rewarded with lucrative State contracts at your expense and mine.

You’ll notice that Haughey never bothered setting up a community of scientists who might perhaps have contributed to our country’s prosperity.  Why?  Because nobody would have congratulated him for it, and because scientists are not the sort of people who hold wine and cheese receptions where a man like Haughey can swagger and preen.  He’d be among people intellectually superior to him, and he wouldn’t have liked that, the ridiculous old snob.

Aosdána was a creature born out of an unholy union between Haughey’s vanity and the hubris of a self-defined Irish artistic community.  It does nothing for the arts, except to benefit a small number of individuals who are for the most part financially independent, and in some cases, very well off indeed.  Many outstanding artists have refused to have anything to do with it, fearful no doubt for their own reputations.  Brendan Kennelly would have nothing to do with it and neither would Eavan Boland.  Hugh Leonard refused outright to join, but I’m disappointed to see that Séamus Heaney accepted the position of Wise One.  Thomas Kinsella didn’t think Aosdána was any good artistically.

Aosdána is a genetic test-tube experiment: a spawn of greed and conceit, created in a  soup of corruption  and it needs to be put down.

I’m afraid it has a flawed pedigree.

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Aosdána

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Previously on Bock:  Haughey

Categories
Sexuality

Cathal Ó Searcaigh Back in the Himalayas

I see our old friend Cathal Ó Searcaigh is back in the Himalayas.  These days, however, he’s gone under cover, posing as an Italian tourist.  (An Italian who just happens to have a distinctive Donegal accent).

In this report, an American tourist accidentally bumps into the great poet, and Cathal happily tells him how he enjoys riding his motorbike past the schools as  the kids come out.

Good old Cathal. Creepy to the end.

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Previously on Bock

Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s Statement

A Poem For Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Cathal Ó Searcaigh: Shifting The Blame

Fergal Ó Searcaigh With A Song For Cathal

Categories
Humour Scandal

Fergal Ó Searcaigh With A Song For Cathal

You might remember Fergal Sharkey, lead singer with the great Derry band, the Undertones.

Well, as you probably know, Sharkey is just an anglicised form of the Irish name Ó  Searcaigh, and therefore, by a curious circularity, I thought Cathal Ó Searcaigh might appreciate Fergal Ó Searcaigh singing this song:

Teenage Kicks

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By the way, I just remembered that Cathal lives in a house provided for him by the Council in Donegal.  In other words, a man who behaves as a great feudal benefactor in Nepal, building houses and providing water to villages, is somehow unable to pay for a house in Ireland.  Instead, this man, who enjoys tax-free status as a bona fide artist, depends on the Irish tax-payer to put a roof over his head.

Hmmm.

Maybe Donegal County Council should demand sexual favours from Cathal.  See how he likes it.

Categories
Scandal

Cathal Ó Searcaigh: Shifting the Blame

Who created a position of power for themselves in a poor, vulnerable community, and used it to extract sexual favours from young men?

Was it Neasa Ní Chianáin?

No. It was Cathal Ó Searcaigh. And yet, to read this disgraceful article in yesterday’s Irish Times, you’d imagine that Neasa Ní Chianáin was the real miscreant and that Cathal was no more than the well-meaning, bumbling old fool he likes to project himself as. A hapless poor old devil, taken advantage of by a cynical and manipulative film-maker who befriended him and then stabbed him in the back.

Let’s be clear about something here. If Cathal Ó Searcaigh didn’t routinely take young boys to his bedroom and have sex with them, there would be no story.

Neasa didn’t force Cathal to do this. He did it of his own volition, and confirmed it to Neasa on the record.

To repeat: Neasa Ní Chianáin did not take advantage of vulnerable young boys. Cathal Ó Searcaigh did that and Neasa caught him.

Now, one of the oldest and most dishonest tactics anyone can sink to is the ad hominem argument. Attacking the person instead of considering what they said. Shooting the messenger in this case.

Dermod Moore wrote such an article in yesterday’s Times, seeking to deflect attention away from Cathal Ó Searcaigh and onto the film-maker. The article, which reminds me of the way the Catholic bishops derided and denied every report and suggestion of clerical sex abuse, has much in common with Cathal’s earlier self-pitying and self-exculpatory statement: Cathal’s template for all future apologists, including Dermod Moore. It has the same cynicism. The same manipulative intent. The same denial. The same menace. The same implied threats. Let’s examine a few things Dermod says.

The collateral damage that has been caused, … is inestimable, leaving chaos and confusion in its wake, and a bitter polarisation.

Let’s be absolutely clear. The damage was not caused by Neasa making a movie. It was caused by Cathal screwing vulnerable boys. There would be no furore if Neasa had made a film about Cathal planting daffodils.

Her lamentable failure to enquire closer into the relationships he had with the young men in Kathmandu, while he was still in situ, means that we, as viewers, are not able to answer some crucial questions.

Firstly, roughly what proportion of those men in his coterie has he had sex with? This goes to the heart of his motives for being there in the first place – was he a sex tourist, masquerading as a philanthropist?

The proportion is irrelevant. What matters is that he does it at all. He admits to 50 or 60 sexual encounters with Nepalese boys, which seems to me a pretty good hit-rate for a middle-aged fat guy, wouldn’t you think? Jesus, with that kind of success, Cathal must have hit the jackpot. Everybody in Nepal must be gay.

Dermod wonders about the people who had sex with Cathal: what long-lasting effect did their relationship with him have?

He quotes Nareng saying he bought myself. He goes on to say that Nareng is now a 20-year-old college student who confidently denies visctimhood and admits to a continued physical relationship with his “best friend”

Dermod is failing to make a strong case for Cathal there: in my eyes, that boy’s volte face looks downright sinister, as if Nareng fears he might lose something unless he retracts.

Dermod doesn’t stop with Neasa. If there are names to be blackened, everyone is fair game. Talking about Ramesh, the hotel manager who alerted Neasa to Cathal’s activities, Dermod says his role seems to be more than that of a catalyst. Now, what kind of mealy-mouthed innuendo is that? What kind of cheap smear is too low for Dermod to sink to in defence of Cathal’s manipulations. Who will feel the wrath of his poison pen next, if they dare to question Cathal’s bona fides?

His professed concern for the welfare of the participants in the programme is hollow, and irrelevant. It’s also a cynical attempt to deflect attention away from his client. Whether Neasa got the boys’ consent is a discussion for another day and has no bearing on whether or not Cathal Ó Searcaigh abused their trust or their poverty.

But here’s where the real manipulation surfaces in Dermod’s article:

When Ó Searcaigh apologised in a statement for offending anyone with his “gay lifestyle and relationships”, I imagine he was referring to cruising. Largely alien to women’s experience, it is obviously not to Ó Searcaigh, who gave us the phrase ag crúsáil.

Nonsense. Nobody complained about Cathal’s homosexuality. It’s a red herring and deserves to be ignored as such. This is about abusing the trust of vulnerable young people in a vulnerable society, and it would make no difference if the young people were female.

Dionysian and transgressive, it is sex outside of relationship, the hunt for mutual pleasure, perhaps even mutual exploitation. A camaraderie and sense of fair play between players in this male “sport” of sex is common, although risk itself is part of the attraction. It is not a “gay” phenomenon, men of all ages and orientations do it, whether partnered or not.

You’d wonder what kind of monastic life Dermod thinks the rest of us have led. Let me reiterate: I don’t care what sort of sexual activity Cathal, Dermod or anyone else has, as long as it doesn’t involve abuse, though I have to admit the Dionysian and transgressive bit sounds interesting. I must try that sometime but it still has nothing to do with Cathal’s Nepalese cavortings.

I’m glad to see that the article continues with something relevant to the controversy:

… cruising in a poor country as a rich westerner, even one with such a sophisticated culture as Nepal’s, throws up all sorts of fraught ethical and emotional questions; not because of the sex, but because of the money, and the power and responsibility attached to it.

Exactly. It’s about Cathal, not about the film.

Until Ó Searcaigh understands the boundaries he has transgressed, and there is no sign yet that he does, he will fail to understand the reason his friend became his nemesis, and why she has seemingly spent the last two years engineering his downfall.

Whoops! Hold on there just a second. Engineering his downfall, you say? How was that now, exactly? Did Neasa drive young boys to his room with a whip? Did she perhaps pull out his dick for him, against his will, and wield his mighty member like an avenging Jedi sabre?

For God’s sake, this is just nonsense. Cathal did the screwing and Neasa did the reporting. It’s as simple as that, and to end an article, as Dermod does in the following terms, is no more than a painful and embarrassing display of petulance:

The core issue in the film is the exercising of power in inappropriate ways to gratify one’s own desires.

But it can also be said that Ní Chianáin herself is guilty of the same thing, in the manner in which she has made her accusations. If one points a finger, so vehemently and so publicly, one must brace oneself for a thousand fingers to come pointing back.

That’s the polite Irish Times version of We‘ll find out where you live.

Polite, but a gutter threat all the same. Shame on you, Dermod.

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Update: I see Dermod has closed comments on his site. He thinks 30 comments is too much material for anyone to read in one go. 30 comments, eh? Bless him. His action has nothing to do with stifling debate, or preventing people disagreeing with him, or the fact that he was getting an absolute pasting from the commenters. No. 30 comments is just too much. He’s overwhelmed.

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Previously:

A Poem For Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s Statement

Cathal Ó Searcaigh

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Elsewhere :-

Robert Synnott

Damien Mulley

Fiche Focal

Sharona

Scott de Buitléir

There’s an interesting analysis HERE of the various diversion tactics in use.

Categories
Sexuality

A Poem For Cathal Ó Searcaigh

I watched the programme last night, and one particular part struck me. It was when Cathal was reading a clever haiku to his Nepalese boys, most of whom had only halting English. Despite the language gap, they were so eager to please Cathal that they laughed at any old shit he read to them and I had an idea. What a nice thing it would be, I thought, if I wrote a haiku of my own. A poem especially for Cathal!

Sorry now. I’ve never written a haiku before, so I might be doing it wrong, but here we go anyway:-

The village boys laugh

too hard at Cathal’s haiku.

Shamed, I turn away.

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Previously:

Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s Statement

Cathal O Searcaigh

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Elsewhere:

Bonhom.ie

Most Sincerely, Folks

Disillusioned Lefty

JC Skinner

Categories
Sexuality

Cathal Ó Searcaigh’s Statement

UPDATE: A Poem For Cathal

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When I first wrote about this, I thought Cathal Ó Searcaigh was almost a peripheral figure. I was more interested in the reaction of the artistic community, which reminded me of the Catholic Church’s denials and attacks on its critics.

I was going to say no more about Cathal Ó Searcaigh until I read his statement today, and I have to confess that I’m staggered by its monumental irrelevancy, manipulative intent and self-pitying tone.

Here.

Read for yourself what he says:

It is with a heavy heart that I have read and listened to the media comment about the documentary Fairytale of Katmandu.

I opened my life and work in Nepal to someone I considered a friend. Someone who had made a film of me and my adopted son and family in Nepal less than a year earlier and who never raised any concerns to me at that time.

I believe the filmmakers never had any intentions of showing the work I have being doing in Nepal for some 13 years now. I have undertaken projects to provide water, housing, education and business opportunities for the people of Nepal.

I have made many friends, both male and female and I have taken great pleasure in seeing my small efforts change their lives for the better. The well being of the Nepalese people is of primary concern to me.

If my gay lifestyle and relationships in Nepal has offended anyone, I am sorry. But to suggest that I in any way coerced or preyed upon these young men is untrue and distasteful. My relationships in Nepal have always been open and loving and above board.

I have considered deeply the opinions put forward by my critics and I can see how my actions could have been misinterpreted. It hurts me to think that I would be seen in this light.

However, as my efforts to support and nurture the people of Nepal are more important to me than the privacy of my relationships, I have decided to establish a trust to administer whatever funds I am capable of providing in the future.

The trust will consist of Prem, my adopted son, Sunita his wife and my daughter-in-law, a Nepalese solicitor and accountant. I will distance myself completely from the distribution of funding for chosen projects. This will allow the work I have started in Nepal to continue and afford me the privilege of regaining some semblance of a private life.

I would finally like to say that the vast bulk of the money I used to help my friends in Nepal was my own income. Although I lived there for three months of the year, I support the educational and other projects all year round.

Is teann an taca an trócaire.

Remember: nobody criticised his sexual orientation. Nobody cares if he’s gay or straight. The only question asked was whether he had possibly exploited young people through his financial strength and their poverty.

Having read it carefully, I think this statement is an attempt by Cathal to divert the debate away from the real question. I think he’s trying to present the whole thing as the persecution of a harmless gay man, and I think his efforts to do so are both clumsy and transparent.

Let’s examine this statement in detail, paragraph by paragraph, and see if we can determine what it’s about. This is only my judgement of his motivation, but it seems to me that his statement is deeply manipulative and devoid of empathy.

Paragraph
Motivation
It is with a heavy heart that I have read and listened to the media comment about the documentary Fairytale of Katmandu.
Self-pityIrrelevant
I opened my life and work in Nepal to someone I considered a friend. Someone who had made a film of me and my adopted son and family in Nepal less than a year earlier and who never raised any concerns to me at that time. Guilt tripIrrelevant
I believe the filmmakers never had any intentions of showing the work I have being doing in Nepal for some 13 years now. I have undertaken projects to provide water, housing, education and business opportunities for the people of Nepal.
Guilt-trip
Self-pity
MartyrdomIrrelevant
If my gay lifestyle and relationships in Nepal has offended anyone, I am sorry. But to suggest that I in any way coerced or preyed upon these young men is untrue and distasteful. My relationships in Nepal have always been open and loving and above board.
Guilt-trip
Self-pity
Avoidance
MartyrdomTangential
I have considered deeply the opinions put forward by my critics and I can see how my actions could have been misinterpreted. It hurts me to think that I would be seen in this light Self-pityIrrelevant
However, as my efforts to support and nurture the people of Nepal are more important to me than the privacy of my relationships, I have decided to establish a trust to administer whatever funds I am capable of providing in the future. AvoidanceIrrelevant
The trust will consist of Prem, my adopted son, Sunita his wife and my daughter-in-law, a Nepalese solicitor and accountant. I will distance myself completely from the distribution of funding for chosen projects. This will allow the work I have started in Nepal to continue and afford me the privilege of regaining some semblance of a private life. Avoidance
Self-pity
Guilt-trip
MartyrdomIrrelevant
I would finally like to say that the vast bulk of the money I used to help my friends in Nepal was my own income. Although I lived there for three months of the year, I support the educational and other projects all year round. Avoidance
Self-pity
Guilt-trip
MartyrdomIrrelevant
Is teann an taca an trócaire. (My translation: Mercy is a slender support) Self-pity
Guilt-trip
MartyrdomIrrelevant

What do you reckon?

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Previously: Cathal Ó Searcaigh

Elsewhere: Conan Drumm

Categories
Favourites Sexuality

Cathal Ó Searcaigh

UPDATE
Cathal Ó Searcaigh: Shifting The Blame
A poem for Cathal

Cathal issued a public statement. Reaction HERE.

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I hate tolerance.

Tolerance means putting up with people even if you don’t like what they are. It’s sniffy. It’s worthy. It’s right-on condescending.

Me?

I don’t give a shit what you are. I don’t care if you’re black, or gay, or Catholic, or a Traveller or anything else. I genuinely don’t give a flying fuck what your race is, or what your sexual orientation is or what your religion is, unless you try and force me to believe the same nonsense as you.

I don’t care what you are. I only care what you do.

I don’t give a shit if you fuck badgers, as long as you don’t fuck my badger without asking me first.

Now, I don’t know if there’s a word for that kind of attitude, but it’s not as forgiving as tolerance. For example, I don’t give a rat’s arse if you’re a tinker. I’ll stand my round as quick as you and I’m happy to work with you. But if you’re the kind of tinker who burns huge piles of cable or leaves a heap of shit behind you when you move on, then I have a big problem with you.

Likewise, if you’re the kind of religious person who thinks we’re all going to hell, or if you want to impose Sharia law in my country, then you can fuck off as well.

And even more likewise, I couldn’t give the green end of a goose’s shit whether you’re gay or straight. In fact, that would be irrelevant at all times.

Now, intolerance is a different matter entirely. In my view, the very first thing we should refuse to tolerate is intolerance. We should refuse to put up with arrogant fucks like Bishops and Archbishops and Cardinals who elevate themselves above the rest of us and who believe their judgement is superior to ours by virtue of their exalted position. I’m glad to say that this caste of people is now coming under increasing pressure, and the Irish people are no longer so credulous or passive that they’re prepared to accept the huffing and the puffing of Churchmen. After all, we now realise that these are simply men detached from the common run of humanity and deluded by the flattery of their toadies.

Little did I realise until this week that there was another secret and parallel Hierarchy ready to spring forth fully formed like Flann O Brien’s middle-aged Spaniard with a knowledge of physics extending to Boyle’s Law and the Parallelogram of Forces. Oh, and with the ability to read a gas meter.

But fuck me sideways, if I wasn’t listening to Joe Duffy during the week. All right. I know. I know. Duffy the Gobshite. I know. The only excuse I can offer is that I was in the car and there was nothing else on.

Duffy is a cynic, prepared to drum up any kind of spurious controversy if it will contribute to raising his profile. I know this. I’m not a fool. But Duffy had latched onto a story about Cathal Ó Searcaigh going to Nepal, and on the face of it, there were grounds for concern. Cathal O Searcaigh? I know nothing whatever about the man, except that he’s a poet and a member of Aosdana. Apart from that I know nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. He could be a fine fellow. He could be a monster. I don’t know. I have no information about him or his activities.

However, there were suggestions that Cathal Ó Searcaigh had used his position of relative wealth to manipulate vulnerable Nepalese boys into engaging in some kind of sexual act with him. It all emerged in the course of a documentary that was being made about him, and there’s a piece where Ó Searcaigh confirms having sex with some of these boys.

Now I don’t know about any of that. Some say the boys were all over 16. Others say they were economically vulnerable and desperate. More say that Nepalese teenagers would be very naive about such things. I don’t know, and I won’t know until the full facts emerge.

What I do know is that every painter, sculptor, novelist, self-styled poet, actor, busker and graffiti artist in Ireland came on the radio to dismiss any suggestions of impropriety by Cathal Ó Searcaigh. Some were more imperious than others, but all carried the same message:

This man is one of us, and we know best. How dare you question him?

And I thought to myself, Oops! Here we go again!

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Update:

Statement by Cathal Ó Searcaigh