Pity the Children

nora_somebodyAs the Spotlight film opens in Dublin we are now facing into yet another sex abuse scandal in a foster home in the south east of Ireland. Covered up and facilitated by the HSE. You have to ask yourself after all the issues of child abuse in this country – how could this possibly happen? How can the State be so negligent? How can the State be so indifferent? And here we have yet another fine display of mock-shock-and horror from the HSE, the Government and certain TDs. Shame on you. There is not a child safe in the land because of your failure to care for the most vulnerable.
What is the famous catch phrase…oh yes, ‘ we failed to hear your cries’ (Bertie Ahern’s famous remarks)
Enda Kenny’s famous remarks about the Magdalene women with tears in his eyes? Many of the women are still waiting, many  have already died.  And Minister Lynch’s remarks that we’re heading towards a public inquiry beggars belief and goes to show how far removed she is from what is actually taking place here.  Its an act of disassociation. … What is the point in having Ministers for Health, Ministers for Children, Ministers for Justice when the perpetrators and the enablers of these outrages will never be brought to justice? Never face any consequences and no child is protected by the State. 
There is talk now of public inquiry and people being brought before the Public accounts committee. Here again, the State is investigating itself and we all know where that leads. What did our last public enquiries bring us? Massive fees, massive bills and no real truth or consequences.  Robert Fisk’s great title ‘Pity the Nation’ comes to mind here except in this instance its ‘Pity our children’.
The same culture that is evident in Spotlight uncovered by the Boston Globe. The same evidence that is being uncovered in the Ryan Report, the Ferns Report, the Murphy Report, we all know will be found to have been at play here in this foster home child abuse scandal. For the many good people out there who foster children and protect the vulnerable stand up, do you hear me, stand up and show leadership here. Don’t let the good work that I know many of you do be undermined by abusers and a weak State and Civil Service. Your reputations are seriously on the line here because this investigation is going to have to include all fostering and all foster homes and protocols and guidelines around children .
The Nation owes this person and her mother an apology.  It would be a travesty for the Taoiseach or any Minister now to utter such words or even the HSE. This needs to come from the mouth of our very own President, Michael D Higgins who would understand the failing of Government and State here. The President has the confidence of all the people and the credibility internationally to make this statement.
 
Where are all the child agencies? Where was Bernardo’s on this? They seem to come very late with their statements.  Where is Amnesty International on this? This has all the hallmarks of dread with the dark hand of the State and its agents all over it.
We can be very grateful to the whistleblower here who has taken enormous risk cause we all know what happens to people who tell the truth, the honest truth and have to whistle blow in this State.
 
Spotlight Trailer:
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Unique Dublin Artefact – John ffrench/Mirolo Mosaic

 

Mosaic_Mirolo

Mosaic in Boyers Restaurant, Dublin by John ffrench Irish Artist installed by Joe and David Mirolo – (The work is signed 1967)

Boyers of Earl Street is closing its doors for good.  Generations passed through these doors and the place is a wash with memory.  It is important to keep that connection to that memory, to that heritage, to that witness.
In the restaurant of Boyers is a mosaic artwork that many Dubliners over the generations enjoyed.  Too much of this unique work has been previously lost to skips and landfill.  Too many of our unique buildings, streets, have been simply bulldozed and replaced by ugly shopping centres or even uglier office blocks.  A thing of beauty is a joy forever.  This work was installed by Joe and David Mirolo an Italian-Irish family who made a cultural contribution through their trade to this city and indeed to this country.  This is multi-culturalism.  This artwork is the evidence and we must save this artefact, conserve and protect it for the joy and education of future generations. We cannot lose it or let it be taken away.
The Little Museum of Dublin would be an ideal place for this work to be represented and presented back to the Dublin people or any other similar place like it.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the North side of Dublin needs its own Little Museum of Dublin. We didn’t save Wood Quay in the past or the Quays.  Much of Dublin has been destroyed despite our cries – surely we can save this fine piece of Italian-Irish heritage? #loveculture
About the Mirolo family:
Guiseppe Mirolo came to Dublin in the 1930s, before the First World War he was studying medicine but that was all to change. He served his apprenticeship with artisans from his home region of Friuli in Northern Italy, he was also a ‘profigi’ or in modern terms a refugee. He worked hard to create a good life for his family and loved Dublin.
Some of his work survives in Dublin and in Christ the King Cathedral and the mosaic’s in Mullingar. The Harp on the steps of Walton’s Music Shop on North Frederick Street is his. The floor of the iconic Waldorf Barbershop is his floor.  The Mirolo family have been involved in Terrazzo & Mosaic for four generations now.
About the artist John ffrench:

John ffrench was born in Dublin to Irish and Italian parents. Travel and foreign inspiration has always been a factor in his work. His early art education was in design, drawing and calligraphy in the National College of Art in Dublin. In 1951, ffrench went to the Institute Statale d´Arte in Florence to study under professor Bruno Pauli. He stayed on in Italy until 1955 to work with like-minded ceramicists on one-off pieces and to soak up the innovations of Italian Modernism. The Mediterranean influence, so apparent in his work from then on, set him apart on his return to Ireland. At this time, Ireland had virtually no craft pottery tradition and mass produced and imported work was standard. Even in the 1950´s, the new craft schools based on the Bernard Leach school favoured the Anglo-Oriental style of dun-coloured pots, the “little brown pots” as they were known.

When ffrench returned to Ireland in 1956 he set up the ‘Ring Studio´ in Kilkenny with Peter Brennan. He began to create pots unlike any seen previously in the country; ffrench preferred to hand build rather than throw his pots and they were very sculptural and experimental in form. The cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque inspired both the ceramics and paintings he made at this time and much of his work was large and irregularly shaped (to the point that his work was described as “too obstinately asymmetrical” by a Dublin newspaper).

In 1962, ffrench returned to Ireland and founded the Arklow Studio Pottery. The Scandinavian Report into the status and quality of craft in Ireland had been scathing, a government initiative to improve standards by involving experts in the various fields was set up. Ffrench was closely involved in this capacity with Kilkenny Studios, which was producing designers for various industries. Influences from his time spent in India were seen in the imagery, colour, form and pattern work of his time. The studio produced tableware, pots, jewellery, wall panels in colourfully glazed, stamped and gilded finishes. In 1969, he moved to America and opened the Dolphin Studio in Massachusetts. With his wife he added batik works and silk-screen prints to his range. He made cheerfully coloured decorative temples and mythical buildings made from individual tiles and arranged like children´s building blocks. In 2007, John ffrench was honoured with a lifetime achievement show from the Arts Council of Ireland.