The Politics of Philomena

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The most startling thing to emerge from the premiere last night of Philomena was the lack of any questioning around accountability for the theft of a child, in this instance Anthony Lee from his mother Philomena, who was incarcerated in Sean Ross Abbey for 4 yrs in the 1950s.  The whole issue of criminality was avoided throughout the entire film and there was an uncomfortability in the Q & A emanating mostly from Steve Coogan, who was making every effort to be inoffensive in his efforts to appease Catholic sensibilities.  It would seem to me that Mr Coogan, producer, co-writer and star of the movie, didn’t really understand the politics of the issue of the banished babies and the criminal trafficking of children for profit out of Ireland and other countries that was perpetrated by the Catholic Church and religious congregations.

What happened here was that like many other children, Anthony Lee was taken from his mother without informed consent and for over fifty odd years the Irish Catholic Church, Religious congregation and indeed the State itself, concealed the whereabouts of mother and son from each other.  Yet, what we watched at the IFI premiere last night completely avoided the global issue of the “banished babies” of Ireland.  Nobody so far has been held to account for this practice; there have been no Garda investigations or Interpol investigations; nobody from the national Airlines (Aer Lingus) or Pan Am airlines that actually trafficked the children out of Ireland have been confronted. Indeed, this whole issue has been slightly saccarined and turned into a warm human interest story rather than a story of organised, joint-venture criminality.

The whole reality of this film is sentimentalised through a naive catholic spiritualism.  A lot of it is cliched and it never really deals with the horrendous tragedy and evil of what was perpetrated on thousands of mothers and their abducted children to this day.

The story of Philomena is based on true events.  True events that happened to generations of people and, while this abduction of children was going on in so-called Mother and Baby homes, there was also the rape torture and inhumane treatment of tens of thousands in what are now known as Ireland’s residential institutions.  The Mother and Baby homes like Sean Ross Abbey, Bessborough, Castle Pollard etc. formed part of a network of compounds where individual citizens were incarcerated and exploited till they died, made good their escape or somehow found themselves miraculously released.

The trauma of what took place in these institutions still permeates this society through the suffering of the individuals who were incarcerated there.  That suffering continues as many mothers seeking to find their children and many children seeking to find their parents are still not being given access to their personal records, to their authenticity, to their origins. There is an indifference, a disregard and a continuous punishment in the way Religious Congregations and indeed the State continue to behave around this issue, which borders on contempt.  There was an opportunity in Philomena to address these issues but the writers of the script chose not to do so.

This undermines the credibility of the movie and does a great disservice to this single story and to the big story because after all this tale is one of thousands of similar tales that are now emerging as part of Ireland’s social and criminal history.

Despite the warmth of the film and the good reception that it received at all the film festivals so far (Toronto, London, Venice) somewhere, the real issues that are at the centre of this story, the hard cruel facts, that unheard story, that brutality, uncomfortable as it is, has to be heard, has to be owned has to be accounted for.  It is not just the story of Philomena and Anthony Lee, it is the story of a society and as such the secret history of Ireland and the Irish State and religious institutions cannot be so simply packaged in a feel-good, heartfelt portrayal of real events that have not been dealt with so far.

We had to drag the apology from the Taoiseach in relation to the Magdalene Laundries and large parts of the truth have still been avoided in the massive whitewash of the Ryan and McAleese Report. The complete indifference and lack of consequences for all those that were involved in the criminality and abuses that were described in the Ferns, Murphy, Cloyne reports etc. There is a great danger here of assuming that we have dealt with these issues and that there is some measure of closure on them, but still the Church and State continue to deny wrong going and the myth that everybody was just trying their best in very difficult times continues to be perpetrated.

Judy Dench gives a fantastic performance as does Steve Coogan, the whole cast excelled themselves and it is a good movie, but that’s all it is –  a good movie, an entertainment, a night out in the cinema.  It doesn’t ask anything of us, it merely brings us along in a sad-warm way.  It’s a road movie that is very satisfying.  The danger here is, is that it smothers the ongoing issue of what’s happening in Irish society and elsewhere and can give further credence to the school of thought that wishes to put this whole issue behind us and let us get on with it.

Adoption Rights Alliance and other such organizations and individuals are desperately seeking information and the rights today for open access to all of their paperwork, their birth certificates, medical records etc.  They are seeking their truth that has been held from them all their lives as it was for Philomena Lee and her son Anthony Lee.

The film will certainly throw light on all of the issues that I’ve mentioned above and it will find its place in the cultural representation of Ireland’s social history, albeit from a British perspective and sensibility. This is a British movie, but what’s not uniquely British about it and what came across last night in the Q & A and in the movie itself, was its unwillingness to ‘go there’.  While I welcome the film, I note its lack of responsibility to the overall story, its insistence on the sensibility of the human story at the cost of the politics and the truth of the issue.   When, in actual fact what you have here is organized criminality on such a scale that it should really warrant a massive European, if not global investigation or tribunal, not dissimilar to that which is conducted by the United Nations into crimes against humanity because that is what this is.

With due respects to all of those who were involved and with deep respect to Anthony Lee who died searching for his mother – who died being told a lie by the very people who thieved him from his mother and continued that thievery by robbing him of his mother’s whereabouts – this story is not just theirs; it is all our stories. And unless you deal with this story in the way you would deal with any fascist of dictatorial regime, like the institutional Catholic Church, like the institutionalized Irish State,   all you are doing here is facilitating and enabling the closing down of the story, the othering of the story and the perpetration of further suffering.

There were comparisons made last night with the Magdalene Laundries so on so forth, but you can’t compare ongoing trauma and truth with films that are by-and-large commercial enterprises to the story of institutional tragedy.  The story of Philomena Lee is essentially a political one involving a sovereign state and its inactions to protect its citizens and a global church that professes Christianity love, truth and respect, but is engaged, in this instance, in joint venture acts of appalling inhumanity and cruelty.  It is up to us, the cinemagoers to inform ourselves to the highest degree on all of the issues that are missing from this film.  That said I would urge you to see the film because some truth in all its horrors still manages to reach out and touch us. Perhaps because of what we already know in relation to the culture that still exists in our country.

It will take some time for society to extract the truth on this whole issue.  Memorials at the Garden of Remembrance, Magdalene Sisters films, and films like Philomena can never be a substitute for the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in fact sometimes such films can damage truth and authenticity as they can perpetrate the lie that it was ‘all done in good faith’. This film will now be promoted by Harvey Weinstein and may possibly even win an Oscar, however there is always the possibility that it could damage the ongoing advocacy for truth and accountability.

With all that in mind – please go.  And when you come out of the cinema, get involved, demand answers.  Seek accountability.  Don’t let the Church or the State off the hook. What happened here was on an enormous scale and that enormity has not been reduced, but has been added to by the continuous refusal of the congregations of nuns at the centre of the Mother and Baby homes who were willfully engaged with the theft, trafficking and sale of children to be held accountable, to hand over the many documents and files that they have in their possession.  These documents need to be given to their rightful owners without any hindrance whatsoever. Everybody has the right to their own information. The lie that is about that these documents were lost through fire damage or floods etc. needs to stop.  People have memory. The congregations duplicated many of its documents. Every child had a passport forged.  People know.  Including Aer lingus, Pan Am and emigration.

In essence the film is about secrecy which forms an unbroken web. That secrecy is never challenged.  And even the cinema goer is asked to accept that secrecy.  It is this very secrecy that gives rise to gross abuse in society, from the institutions of the state, the institutions of the church and the very institution of the family and here right before us in the IFI that secrecy is well maintained by the cultural industry and the film community.  This is far too serious an issue to be turned into mere entertainment.  Philomena the film is not Rabbit Proof Fence, or Los Ninos Robados.  It is a vehicle for the desires of Steve Coogan and the advancement of his career at the expense of a real truth, a real politic.  Mr Coogan needs to be aware of this, that in doing what he did he places himself firmly on the side of those oppressive regimes that wish to keep us all silent, all stunted and childlike and all contained.

This story and the thousands of stories like it will one day escape from this place and find a place where their truth will be heard, understood and accepted.  To avoid is to deny.  To deny is further injustice.  The struggle and the search for truth continues. Mr Coogan had an opportunity to inform the public.  He chose instead to protect the wrong doers – the Irish State and the Catholic church.  He needs now to correct this if he is to have any credibility.   He needs to inform himself of the reality by speaking with those many people who are desperately seeking their children, desperately seeking their mothers.  Its important to note that Philomena Lee didn’t write the book. Didn’t make the movie.  And the problem now is that the story is in the hands of unscrupulous, unprincipled Tinseltown merchants.  And we all have an obligation here to ensure the right thing is done and that the truth is told. Only then can a society grow. Only then can true faith be meaningful.

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Businesses Express Outrage over Dublin Town’s Creative Quarter Festival

Traders not consulted over festival plans which will close streets and block loading bays

A proposed festival in Dublin City Centre has ignited controversy today after a multitude of varying-sized businesses have expressed concerns and anger over a lack of consultation and disruption to business. The ‘Creative Quarter’ festival, due to take place on the 26thand 27th August, will see busy streets closed off to traffic and a number of loading bays blocked.

Many businesses in the area have expressed concern over many aspects of the festival, including the lack of consultation offered from the organisers Dublin Town and the promotion of several businesses in the area over others. Joe Macken, founder and owner of the successful JoBurger restaurants, including one on Castle Market, has expressed his concerns; ‘The businesses in this area haven’t been properly informed of the details. We’re less than two weeks out from the event but we don’t yet have any specific details about what is going on. Dublin Town want to close off several streets and block off a number of loading bays at quite short notice. I myself am not opposed to a festival – actually I’d really love it.   But takes more than two lads with clip boards going around asking business what’s their party piece and any chance of a discount on the day for punters. We need to attract new business and reopen people eyes as to the fun that can be had in and around South William Street to not disturb the current flow of custom.  Well planned events – take time, have themes and are highly collaborative, why can’t we do it?”

Another business owner in the area, Mary Costelloe, of Costelloe & Costelloe, also voiced concerns over the festival; ‘’this event is about Dublin Town trying to justify their half-baked idea of a ‘creative quarter’ and it’s not about doing anything positive for business in the area. It doesn’t make sense to host this event at a very busy time of year. It is a badly thought-out, calamitous idea and all of the businesses I’ve spoken to are utterly outraged.’’

The Creative Quarter Festival will see intense disruption to Fade Street, South William Street, Castle Market, Clarendon Street, Exchequer Street and Drury Street. The event is organised by Dublin Town, who recently survived a very narrow vote on their 5 year renewal on 17thJuly.

ENDS

Please Note:

Joe Macken is available for interview.

For further information please contact:

Paul Allen                                                                 Rory Sweeney

Paul Allen & Associates                                          Paul Allen & Associates

18 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2                            18 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin 2

01 676 9575 / 087 257 5700                                       01 676 9575 / 086 897 6442

 

 

Paul
Paul Allen & Associates,
Public Relations,

18 Fitzwilliam Square South,
Dublin 2.
Tel: 00-353-1-6769575
Fax: 00-353-1-6769518

Should Local Property Tax be varied?

Please see attached press release from Dublin City Council.  

Click link below if you are interested in doing the survey.  

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Public asked if Local Property Tax rate should be varied in Dublin city

Dublin City Council has invited submissions from the public and interested parties on whether they think the Local Property Tax (LPT) should be varied in Dublin city.

Section 20 of the Finance (Local Property Tax) Act 2012 allows the Elected Members of Dublin City Council to vary the LPT rate by plus or minus 15 per cent. The council must ask the public for their views on this and take these views into account before making a decision.

Anyone who wishes to take part in the public consultation process can take the user-friendly online survey from Monday 31st July to 4.30pm on Wednesday 30th August at the following https://consultation.dublincity.ie/

Kathy Quinn, Head of Finance with Dublin City Council, says “Local Authorities can vary the LPT. Revenue from this tax supports local services such as parks, libraries and street cleaning that Dublin City Council provides. Any decision to vary this is very important so we are asking the public for their views. These views will inform whatever decision is taken.”

All submissions received will inform a Chief Executive’s report which Dublin City Council will present to the Elected Members on Tuesday 19th September 2017. Should the Elected Members decide to vary the rate, Dublin City Council must inform the Department of the Housing, Community, Planning and Local Government and the Office of The Revenue Commissioners by 30th September 2017. Any variation which may be made would apply from 1st January 2018.

To view FAQs see: https://consultation.dublincity.ie/

Unsound legislation and unsafe procedures surrounding the manner in which BID plebiscite was conducted

25th July 2017

No to BID Campaign Vows to Continue their Campaign to Stand-Down BID Scheme

Calls on Gardaí to Investigate Vote

The No to BID Campaign group, formed to campaign against the renewal of the Dublin BID scheme, have announced that they will continue their campaign. The announcement comes in the wake of the narrow vote among city centre businesses on the renewal of the Dublin BID scheme for another five years. The No to BID group have renewed their mandate to ramp up their campaign following a huge 50% increase on the No vote from 2012.

A statement from No to BID spokesperson Kim Condon raised some of the concerns that arose during the campaign and during the election count on the 17th July; ‘’We also have extremely grave concerns about the unsound legislation and unsafe procedures surrounding the manner in which the plebiscite was conducted. A senior official in Dublin City Council admitted opening the ballot box and placing a large number of envelopes inside. We have written to An Garda Síochana asking them to investigate this incident. The No to BID Campaign will continue to campaign for transparency, accountability and corporate governance.’’

Ms Condon went on to say that the group will continue its campaign to disband Dublin BID; ‘’Following a meeting yesterday, the No to BID Campaign came to a unanimous decision to continue the campaign to disband the Dublin BID scheme and the private company DublinTown. We would like to thank all of the businesses for their continued support for the campaign to end the BID. We will represent the best interests of the city centre business community going forward.’’

The vote to disband the Dublin BID was held among certain business (double) ratepayers in the city centre. After a divisive campaign, the Yes vote has seen a collapse in its support with 843 business voting yes, compared to almost 1,100 in 2012 or a drop of over 20%. The No vote has seen its share surge from 511 in 2012 to 715 in 2017, an increase of almost 50%

The No to BID Campaign represents over 700 small and medium sized businesses. The No campaign had wide support, including the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation, the Irish Hairdressers Federation and the Irish Newsagents and Convenience Stores Association.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

Attached is Joe McCarthy’s note, an independent observer at the count on July 17th.  His note provides detail on the No to BID Campaign’s concerns over the voting and counting procedures.

Continue reading

Cllr’s on board of BID support private quango

street cleaningCllr Lacey (Labour) and Cllr Nial Ring (Independent) have come out in support of the privitisation of street cleaning services in defiance of SIPTU, Trade Union, Shop stewards and DCC waste management workers. Both Cllrs are on the Board of the ‘BID/We are Dublin Town’ a private Company and a Quango which has basically been engaged in misinformation and scaremongering in the face of many businesses who wish to end their involvement with this quango.

(See statement here:

http://www.wearedublintown.ie/2017/07/cllrs-reaffirm-council-no-budget-dublintown-cleaning-service/

 

This is the letter, below, that SIPTU issued to Owen Keegan (CEO Dublin City Council) and also to all street cleaning workers on July 10th.

I find it difficult to understand how Cllr Lacey and Cllr Nial Ring who profess to be ardent trade unionists, indeed Cllr Lacey is a member of the ‘Labour party’, can come out against the Dublin City Council workers and Trade union members who have great concerns about losing their jobs to private companies like ‘BID/Dublintown”.

These double standards need to be exposed irrespective of the outcome of Monday’s vote on the BID/Dublintown.

It really is unprecedented that Cllr Lacey and Cllr Ring would issue such a contemptuous disregarding press statement in support of a private company.  A true slap in the face to the DCC workers they are elected to protect!

We all know what happened and what is still happening as a result of privatizing, general waste and the bins.

Let’s keep it Council.

page 1 SIPTU

Letter sent by SIPTU officials to City Manager, Owen Keegan with the concerns their workers have in relation to BID

 

page 2 SIPTU

Letter sent by SIPTU officials to City Manager, Owen Keegan with the concerns their workers have in relation to BID

 

More Dublin Businesses Vote NO to BID

More and more businesses are speaking out about the waste of their money spent by the Dublin BID company (Dublintown) and are voting NO to the continuation of this BID scheme.

 

Joe Macken (Jo Burger, Crackbird, Bear and more), Kim Condon (Magill’s Delicatessen) Margaret Brannigan (Gollum’s Jewellery) are just a few of the hundreds of businesses who are saying NO, Voting NO – Join them. Why pay Double Rates?

Regeneration Land Grab

 

This is what is happening all over Ireland and Dublin, whole communities being displaced from their traditional homeplace all for the sake of privatization under the guise of ‘rejuvenation’.

Hurray for the RIff Raff shine a light in this dark corner.

No to BID Campaign Outraged at DublinTown’s Refusal to Appear at Public Debate

PRESS RELEASE WEDNESDAY 12TH JULY

No to BID Campaign Outraged at DublinTown’s Refusal to Appear at Public Debate

 

The No to BID Campaign has today (Wednesday 12th July) expressed its outrage at the refusal of DublinTown (formerly Dublin BID) leadership to appear at a public debate ahead of a vote on the renewal of the initiative.

 

Commenting on this, No to BID Campaign spokesperson Kim Condon said; “we are extremely angry and disappointed that DublinTown have refused to engage in the public debate organised for today. It is yet another example of their lack of transparency and the dictatorial style of leadership they engage in. The No to BID Campaign were very eager for business owners in the City Centre to have a chance to hear the issues properly debated in a public forum. As we have not received any response to our invitations, we are now forced the cancel the venue.” 

 

The public debate on the renewal of DublinTown (formerly Dublin BID) was organised for 6pm this evening at the St Stephen’s Green Club with an independent moderator to oversee the event.

 

Dublin BID (operated by DublinTown) is a company which was set up in 2008 following a vote of Dublin city centre businesses. It is charged with improving Dublin City as a commercial district. Businesses in the district pay a compulsory levy of 5% of their commercial rates. DublinTown is renewed every five years by a vote of businesses in the district. The vote this year is overshadowed by a groundswell of anger and mistrust from businesses over a proposed 34% increase to the levy and highly-contested footfall figures.

 

The No to BID Campaign has been gathering momentum this week, with the Restaurants Association of Ireland, the Irish Hotels Federation, the Convenience Stores and Newsagents Association and the Irish Hairdressers Federation all declaring their support for the No side.

 

ENDS.

Mnx-Flyer-DublinTown2017-A5.indd