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What did Niall McElwee do?


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This Is Not About Niall McElwee
Niall McElwee and the PC Gestapo


I never heard of Dr Niall McElwee until about four days ago when it emerged that he had been forced to resign from his job at the Athlone Institute of Technology where he had been lecturing in the area of social care and child protection.

It seems that he received a conviction for a sexual offence in Amsterdam two years ago, but hadn’t informed his employers. Now, the whole country is agog that a sexual offender is lecturing in child protection. Other people are raising dark mutterings about illustrative material that he used in a previous lecturing post at Waterford IT. It seems the material might have included explicit photos illustrating the physical trauma of child abuse, and some people found it offensive. He was told not to use it in future.

Now, you know my views on offending people: it isn’t a crime. I offend people every day, sometimes just for the sake of it. Before making a judgement on Niall McElwee, I would like to know exactly what the offensive material was, and I would like to know who he was showing it to. If he obtained it illegally and it was illegal to possess it, we should be told, but I haven’t heard anyone suggesting that. If it was for the purpose of teaching a class of professionals, I don’t see the problem. After all, if lecturers could never show offensive or disgusting material, then student doctors and forensic scientists wouldn’t get much of an education, would they?

I don’t know anything at all about the case in Holland, but I would like to know what exactly Niall McElwee did. From the news reports, it seems he got shitfaced drunk, blundered into a bedroom occupied by four young American girls, propositioned them, climbed into bed with one of them, got kicked out again and generally made a total fool of himself. He was subsequently arrested, and convicted of sexual assault, but maybe that’s not the entire story. Did he do something else apart from entering a bedroom occupied by four people, drunk, in his socks and underpants and making a complete offensive nuisance of himself?

It worries me. It worries me, not because I know what McElwee did, but because if everybody who ever behaved badly could be convicted of a sexual offence, the prisons would be full of sexual offenders, both male and female. And also because the definition of a sexual offence varies from one country to another. Before sacking somebody, we should be looking at what constitutes a sexual offence in this country. It’s almost impossible in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran to go outside your front door without committing a sexual offence. If McElwee had been convicted in Iran of the sexual offence of Having unIslamic dirty thoughts and wearing a knowing smirk, would the Athlone IT have called him a sexual offender and sacked him? No they wouldn’t, but why not? After all, he’d still be a convicted sexual offender.

Are we all agreed that a sexual offence is the same in Irish law as it is in Dutch? That’s all I’m asking. Tell me more. Tell me what he did. I need to know before I can start demanding his head on a platter like the media and the rest of the Irish blogosphere.

Worse, let’s look at the print media for a second. The Irish Independent is a disgrace to journalism. I think we all agree about that. It’s axiomatic, so to speak. Here’s what the Independent’s headline says:

Female colleagues complained about shamed childcare expert.

I read and re-read the article, trying to understand the relevance of the words.


Is that relevant? No.


Were the complaints upheld?


So what exactly is this headline meant to convey? Do you need to ask? Of course not. It’s meant to say Pervert!

I read this story, written by Maeve Sheehan, an incompetent, cynical disgrace to a profession that was once respected. I presume this name is invented — at least, I personally wouldn’t want anyone to know I was behind such a dishonest article, but hey! that’s just old-fashioned me. The story is full of innuendo and entirely empty of fact.

If you look deeper into the story, here’s what you read:

. . . three former female colleagues wrote to the Minister for Education asking for an inquiry into his appointment and rapid promotion at the institute. Five years ago he was accused of bullying and harassment by another female colleague – a claim that was never substantiated.

What’s this about?

The bullying accusation was never substantiated, so that’s gone.

Three former colleagues wrote to the Minister.


Their complaint was that he’d been promoted too quickly.  I’d call that envy.

They were female.


Does that make their word more believable? Who gives a shit if they were women or men? Why is it relevant?

Bad, poor, smear journalism.

There you go. McElwee might well turn out to be an abuser once we get the full information, which we don’t have yet. But I’m not going to take the word of a bottom-feeder like Maeve Sheehan for it. To expose corruption and abuse we need solid, intelligent journalists with integrity. Unfortunately, the Independent doesn’t have a policy of hiring people who possess intelligence or integrity, or even people capable of writing coherent English. This is a pity. Reporting like this undermines the credibility of whatever decent journalists are left.

I still vividly remember Fr Brendan Smyth, an evil old bastard who raped and abused children for generations. Smyth precipitated the collapse of a government and threw the entire country into convulsions from which it still hasn’t emerged. Brendan Smyth was a manipulative rapist. So was Fr Sean Fortune. So are George Gibney and Derry O’Rourke, former national swimming coaches.

Now, forgive me, but I find it hard to equate McElwee’s behaviour with any of the aforementioned bastards, and yet the whole country is aghast at the notion of such a man lecturing in child protection. I realise that the girls in the room were under 18, and I also suspect that, as a parent myself, I would probably want to smash his face in for his behaviour, but still, the level of smugness among the media people is becoming unbearable.

Let me ask you this: if you had to fill out an application for a job, and if it had this question on it, and if you had to answer it truthfully under pain of severe electric shock to the genitalia, how would you be able to answer?

Here’s the question:

Did you ever, in the entire course of your life, whether under the influence of alcohol or otherwise, make unwelcome sexual advances to a member of the opposite sex?

My opinion? Nobody in the entire country, man or woman, would have a job. (Except, of course, employees of Independent Newspapers who, as we all know, are entirely above reproach).

I’m not saying Niall McElwee should have remained in his position. I’m only saying I don’t have enough information yet to form an opinion, but I’ll tell you this much: what we’re seeing at the moment isn’t informed public opinion.

What we’re seeing is a lynch-mob baying for blood.

kick it on

Politics Religion Scandal

The Feast of the Blessed Condescension

This article was first published in November 2006



Isn’t there some big Catholic thing coming up soon, in early December? The Immaculate Assumption, or the Holy Dispersal. Something of that sort, anyway. The Blessed Emulsification, maybe.

In the past, it was the day when all the farmers used to head for their nearest urban centre to get completely blunted in the pub while the missus noodled around the shops buying cocaine and vibrators, but those days are long gone. Now, in the new Celtic Aardvark Ireland, rural people no longer need to visit their local town in huge hordes on the feast of the Unmissable Contraction. Certainly not. These days, rural people are all over in Dubai with their accountants in early December, trying to figure out how much their patch of mud is worth now. Bastards.

It wasn’t always like this. It wasn’t always money money money. Oh no.

Actually, that’s not true. It was always about money. Let me give you a case in point.

Recently, the Comptroller and Auditor General issued a report about the payments by the Residential Institutions Redress Board to victims of clerical abuse. The latest figure is 1.2 billion euros. Let me repeat that. One thousand two hundred million euros.

Now, what do you think this money is for? Is it because the government think these people deserve a holiday and could do with a few bob to help them go to Malaga?


Is it because the people who claimed are so damn nice you couldn’t refuse them?

No, it isn’t.

Well, maybe it’s because the Catholic Church has decided to share some of its vast wealth with poor people, in line with the teaching of Jesus?

Ah come on now! You have to be joking surely? The Catholic Church follow Jesus’s teaching?

No. It’s none of the above. The people have been awarded the money to partially make up for the fact that they were physically, sexually and psychologically abused by priests, nuns and monks. Read that again carefully. Abused by priests by priests, nuns and monks. Not, you will notice, by postmen, police, nurses, dog wardens or any other employee of the State. Children were raped, beaten and psychologically abused by nuns, priests and monks.

You’d imagine therefore that they would be compensated by the organisation their abusers belonged to, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. So how much did the Catholic church pay towards the one thousand two hundred million euros so far paid out to victims?

Most of it, I hear you saying.


Half of it, you suggest.


A quarter, you shout, in despair.

I stand up and wave my arms at you in dismissal. No, no and no again.

The Catholic church paid a tenth of the cost. The Catholic church paid 127 million euros and no matter how high the awards go, that is all the Catholic church will ever pay.


You heard me right. Even though the children were raped, beaten and psychologically abused by nuns, priests and monks, the Catholic church will never pay more than 127 million euros.

So what uncritical benefactor has ridden to the assistance of the Catholic church? What kind and decent person has decided to rescue the church from the penury it brought upon itself by its abuse of children? Who could possibly be so generous? Well, look no further. Look in the mirror, for this wonderful benefactor is you. Your taxes are paying one thousand two hundred million euros to make up the shortfall, and this is the result of an agreement signed by a government minister.

Michael Woods, PhD, agreed this deal with the Catholic church, including Sister Helena O’Donoghue of the Sisters of Mercy, of whom more anon. Dr Woods, you might remember, was once Minister for Health, and did nothing at the time to dispel the belief that he was a medical practitioner when in fact he had a doctorate arising out of some research on tomatoes. Dr Woods is also a well-known member of Opus Dei. Dr Michael Woods concluded a deal whereby your money and mine was used to underwrite the Catholic church without limit. Can you imagine that? These guys paid in 127 million and that was an end of their obligations, even though they were the ones who had committed the abuse. Even though the claims are currently at one thousand two hundred million and rising, the church will never have to pay an extra penny. Our money will be used to pay the rest, no matter how much the bill comes to.

Now, who is Sr Helena O’Donoghue? Sr O’Donoghue is a member of the community that controls the Mater Hospital in Dublin. The Mater Hospital has recently been designated the location for the National Children’s Hospital, even though it is completely inaccessible for children coming from outside Dublin, and for their parents. The location was chosen even though a suitable site was offered at no cost to the government on the periphery of Dublin. (A site which was easily accessible from the N7).

The Mater is also the hospital whose ethics committee attempted to prevent cancer patients from using contraception. A truly Christian institution.


The Sisters of Mercy . . .

Public Apology

Criminal Responsibilty