Wednesday, 26 April 2017


FATHER CHRIST DERWIN is leaving the priesthood according to my sources in the Archdiocese of Dublin and Maynooth Seminary.

Fr Derwin has been something of a controversial figure in the context of Maynooth and in the context of various "happenings" in the two parishes in which he has served - Balbriggan and Tallaght.

In Balbriggan the parish priest and the archbishop set up CCTVto watch the comings and goings at the presbytery.

In Tallaght there was a mysterious burglary of the presbytery.

Fr Derwin has also been friends with Deacon Jack "Gorgeous" Byrne and Deacon "King Puck" Jones.

Below we see a picture showing Fr Derwin with Gorgeous and Diarmuid "Coddle" Martin in the sacristy of the controversial Bray parish where Gorgeous served.

We have also learned from Listowel parishioners that Fr Derwin was a regular visitor to Listowel to visit King Puck who is currently the Listowel deacon.

A well placed Dublin priest who drew my attention to Fr Derwin's rumoured departure from the priesthood told me today:

"I think in the departure of Chris Derwin from the Dublin Presbyterate we are seeing the beginnings of the cracks in a very unfortunate situation that Archbishop Martin has been presiding over for a number of years now. 

This situation involves the increasing alienation of the majority of Dublin's priests from their archbishop and the increasing policies of the protection of a small number of diocesan priests and seminarians who have, for whatever reason, enjoyed the protection of an archbishop who seems to have lost the plot.

This situation could easily bring the archbishop into disrepute and could very easily cloud his legacy as well as much the future very difficult for his successor. 

Many priests believe that Archbishop Martin is creating the archdiocese's future scandals by his strange and unexplained policies. Just as we now look back on the reign of McQuaid, Ryan etc with horror and sadness we could easily find ourselves embarrassed by the legacy of the Martin era".

I believe that this very senior Dublin priest is right.

We are witnessing before our eyes new "dark days" for the Irish Catholic Church.

When these things come to pass we will not be saying: "I TOLD YOU SO".

We will however be feeling sad that reason and right did not prevail and that the Body of Christ was wounded so unnecessarily :-(


Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin says State must have full control of hospital



  An alternative site for a national maternity hospital must be found if a deal whereby the State has full control of the facility cannot be brokered, Labour leader Brendan Howlin has said.

  Mr Howlin was speaking at the end of his party’s conference in Wexford yesterday in response to assertions by the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, who said the Sisters of Charity, the congregation that owns the site of the planned hospital, would have to apply Roman Catholic teaching in the new facility.


  Bishop Doran told the Sunday Times: “A healthcare organisation bearing the name Catholic while offering care to all who need it has a special responsibility . . . to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and dignity, and the ultimate destiny of the human person.”

  When asked in August 2013 by The Irish Times if St Vincent’s University Hospital would carry out abortions to save a woman’s life, a spokesman said the hospital would “as always be following the law of the land”.

  That statement was made amid controversial comments by then Fr Kevin Doran, in which he said the Mater hospital would not be able to comply with the new Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

  He was then a member of the Mater hospital’s board of governors.

  He told The Irish Times at the time that “the Mater can’t carry out abortions because it goes against its ethos”, and that he would be concerned that the then minister for health, James Reilly, “sees fit to make it impossible for hospitals to have their own ethos”.

  Board of governors

  Ultimately Fr Doran resigned from the hospital’s board of governors after it decided the Mater would comply with the Act. He said he was resigning, “largely because I feel a Catholic hospital has to bear witness . . . to Gospel values alongside providing excellent care.”The Mater was one of two Catholic voluntary hospitals on the list of 25 approved institutions – the other being St Vincent’s University Hospital.

  Mr Howlin said it may be necessary to transfer ownership of the national maternity hospital to the State.

  “That means the transfer of the site from the ownership of the Sisters of Charity to the State. I think that a deal could be brokered on that basis, with full ownership and democratic control vested in the State thereafter.

  “Or we have to look for another site.

  “It is certainly not acceptable for any doubt to even exist for bishops now or into the future to say that they have any influence.”

  Religious ethos

  Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the proposed hospital had to be free from any specific religious ethos. Mr Martin called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to be “fully transparent’’ relating to the entire process.

  He said the Minister had clearly endorsed the agreement in November, but now appeared to have abandoned that position.

  “The Minister also needs to be transparent in terms of the deal done,’’ Mr Martin added.

  He said the taxpayer should have the investment of huge sums of money reflected in the ownership of any facility being provided.

  He viewed the whole matter with some degree of concern, and took on board the “passionate articulation’’ of master of the National Maternity Hospital Holles Street, Dr Rhona O’Mahony, that without question it was not fit for purpose.


Maternity hospital critic told to resign from board by text message

 Irish IndependentEilish O’Regan and Conor Kane

  THE outspoken former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dr Peter Boylan, has been asked by text message to resign from the board.
  Dr Boylan, who is a strong critic of the decision to allow the Sisters of Charity to own the new €300m national maternity hospital, told the Irish Independent he was asked to resign last Sunday. He said the text was signed by the deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns and the current master of the hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.
  “I got a text on Sunday afternoon from Mr Kearns and the Master of the Rotunda,” he said. “It is shooting the messenger to ask me to resign. Telling me ‘you are out’ is not going to advance the hospital.”
  Dr Boylan, who is a brother-in-law of Dr Mahony, retired as an obstetrician last year. He said that it is important to have a board with “diverse opinions”.
  THE outspoken former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St, Dr Peter Boylan, has been asked by text message to resign from the board by his deputy chairman Nicholas Kearns.
  Dr Boylan, who is a strong critic of the decision to allow the Sisters of Charity ownership of the new national maternity hospital, confirmed to the Irish Independent last night he was asked to resign “by text” last Sunday.
  He said the text was signed by Mr Kearns and the current master of the hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony.
  “I got a text on Sunday afternoon from Mr Kearns and the Master of the Rotunda,” he said, adding that he has not responded to it.
  It comes in the wake of the outcry over the decision to give ownership of the €300m hospital to the Sisters of Charity, who own the St Vincent’s Hospital campus in Dublin where it will be located.
  Dr Boylan said last night he intends to attend a meeting of the Holles Street board tomorrow afternoon.
  “It is shooting the messenger to ask me to resign. Telling me ‘you are out’ is not going to advance the hospital,” he said.
  He also said the agreement between Holles St and St Vincent’s has not yet been put to the governors, who are the shareholders of the healthcare facility.
  Dr Boylan, who is a brother- in-law of Dr Mahony, retired as an obstetrician last year. He said that it is important to have a board with “diverse opinions”.
  A spokesman for the hospital said last night Dr Boylan was a member of the board at all times during the six-month period of mediation which resulted in agreement last November to co-locate the National Maternity Hospital with St Vincent’s University Hospital.
  “The board was kept fully briefed on all developments by the negotiating team during that period.
  “The decisive final meeting of the board overwhelmingly supported the agreement with 25 in favour, two abstentions (including Dr Boylan) and one vote against.
  “Thereafter the agreement was approved by Government and planning permission was lodged. Last week, some five months after the agreement was approved, Dr Boylan, without warning, consultation with or notification to the board, its chair or the Master of the hospital, went public in attacking the agreement.”
  During an interview, with RTÉ’s ‘Morning Ireland’ last week, Dr Boylan, suggested that the Sisters of Charity would bring a strong religious influence to the practices at the new National Maternity Hospital.
  “The state is investing €300m of your money and my money in a new maternity hospital and it is inappropriate that that hospital should have a strong religious influence, particularly from the Catholic Church, with all its bad history in relation to women’s healthcare,” he said.
  Yesterday Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald called for “the utmost clarity” on the future governance at the new hospital.
  The Justice Minister said the days of “interference by religious authorities” in maternity services are in the past.
  She said she believes there will be “significant progress” in the coming days on the issues that have “arisen” and that Health Minister Simon Harris is working on achieving clarity.
  “What I would say is that the time for interference in any modern maternity hospital for the future, any interference by religious authorities, that time is in the past and for the future, clearly, women and the country need clarity and that’s what the minister (for health) is working to ensure we have,” she said.
  “People want a modern maternity hospital that’s working to best clinical practice and the religious orders and the Church have nothing to do with it or with the decisions that are made for women.”
  More than €5m stands to be lost if the controversial deal to move the National Maternity Hospital to the St Vincent’s campus collapses.
  The public funding has already been spent in preparing to move the maternity hospital from Holles Street to the Dublin 4 site.
  Around €100,000 has been paid to An Bord Pleanála as part of the planning application.
  The board of St Vincent’s Healthcare Group will meet later this week to review its involvement in the project in light of the public outcry.
  Dr Rhona Mahony has said an agreement between the two boards allows for full independence for the maternity hospital and it will provide all services that are legal in the State.


At this stage in time I am really pissed off by the absolute arrogance of the Irish Catholic Bishops and their efforts to force their religion down the necks of the Irish state and people!

If I had the power to do so I would bring in laws that took all institutions in Ireland OUT of the hands of these bastardos.

I would look at how much the state paid them over the years to run these schools and hospitals and how much money and assets they now have and strip them back to the point where they had enough to live on and nothing more.

I would not give the Catholic Church ANY MORE MONEY and I would make sure that they were banished from public life as much as possible.

If they wanted to run Catholic Schools and hospitals I would let them pay for them and make sure that they complied with the law of the land in every respect.

If Catholic parents and patients wanted to support these private institutions I would give them some tax allowances - but restrict these allowances.

Ireland has been a bishop and priest ridden country and THAT HAS GOT TO END!

Let them restrict their teaching and preaching to the private realm - the home, the church and things like Sunday schools. 

Let them STOP telling the Irish State and the Irish People what they can do in bed, in schools, in hospitals.

The morality and ethics of the country should be decided by the vote of the people.

If the bishops and priests want to tell their Catholic followers how to vote etc - that is their business.

I wish the Irish State would get these monkeys off our backs !!!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Recently I promised that I would write a Blog about my Crohn's Disease.

I was diagnosed with Crohns in 1988 - two years after my major battle with Cahal Daly and I believe that my Crohns was caused, in part, by the stress of that battle and time. 

Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to anus. signs and symptoms often include abdominal paindiarrhea (which may be bloody if inflammation is severe), fever, and weight loss.[1][2] Other complications may occur outside the gastrointestinal tract and include anemiaskin rashesarthritisinflammation of the eye, and feeling tired. The skin rashes may be due to infections as well as pyoderma gangrenosum or erythema nodosumBowel obstruction also commonly occurs and those with the disease are at greater risk of bowel cancer.[1

I began to have increasing problems with CD and in 1991 was admitted to hospital to have 3 parts of my bowel resected. 

The outlook was not good - surgery every 3 years until all my bowel was gone and after that a colostomy bag for life.

I thought there had to be a better way.

I read in a magazine about Professor John Hermon Taylor who was adopting a whole new approach to CD and its causes. I went to see him in London. This is what the Prof was saying about CD:

Causation of Crohn's disease by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis.

Hermon-Taylor J1, Bull TJ, Sheridan JM, Cheng J, Stellakis ML, Sumar N.

Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) is a member of the M avium complex (MAC). It differs genetically from other MAC in having 14 to 18 copies of IS900 and a single cassette of DNA involved in the biosynthesis of surface carbohydrate. Unlike other MAC, MAP is a specific cause of chronic inflammation of the intestine in many animal species, including primates. The disease ranges from pluribacillary to paucimicrobial, with chronic granulomatous inflammation like leprosy in humans. MAP infection can persist for years without causing clinical disease. The herd prevalence of MAP infection in Western Europe and North America is reported in the range 21% to 54%. These subclinically infected animals shed MAP in their milk and onto pastures. MAP is more robust than tuberculosis, and the risk that is conveyed to human populations in retail milk and in domestic water supplies is high. MAP is harboured in the ileocolonic mucosa of a proportion of normal people and can be detected in a high proportion of full thickness samples of inflamed Crohn's disease gut by improved culture systems and IS900 polymerase chain reaction if the correct methods are used. MAP in Crohn's disease is present in a protease-resistant nonbacillary form, can evade immune recognition and probably causes an immune dysregulation. As with other MAC, MAP is resistant to most standard antituberculous drugs. Treatment of Crohn's disease with combinations of drugs more active against MAC such as rifabutin and clarithromycin can bring about a profound improvement and, in a few cases, apparent disease eradication. New drugs as well as effective MAP vaccines for animals and humans are needed. The problems caused by MAP constitute a public health issue of tragic proportions for which a range of remedial measures are urgently needed.

The Prof put me on Rifabutin and Clarithromycin. I was as sick as a dog for a month and had to spend the month in bed.

Then it all cleared up and for the past 29 In have been in relatively good shape as far as CD is concerned. 

Of course I have suffered the consequences of my encounter with CD and surgery and one of the biggest consequences has been more or less permanent diarrhea. But so what? I am well. Many of the young people who were in hospital with me in 1988 are now dead!

I have written before about my CD in various places and have, as a result, sent many people to the Prof and he was able to help them as much as he helped me, although some people cannot tolerate the strong drugs.

The Prof is now retired from his post as Professor of Surgery at St George's Hospital in London but is still in charge of research into CD. Next year he is bring out a vacine for CD!

He is worth googling.

A younger medic - Dr Jeremy Saunderson of London Bridge Hospital, London as taken over his work. 

The Prof's approach to Crohns Disease is controversial in medical circles. 

All I can say is that he saved me from a lot of suffering, countless surgeries and possibly death.

Of course the nasty comment makers on this Blog will say the Prof did wrong :-)

Monday, 24 April 2017


First Irish beatification due next month

The late Jesuit priest Fr John Sullivan, who was raised Protestant, is to be declared “blessed” at a ceremony which will be attended by both the Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops of Dublin.
In a year which also marks the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, it is the first ever beatification in Ireland – a major step on the path to sainthood – and will also involve Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The event will take place on May 13th at the Jesuit’s St Francis Xavier Church on Dublin’s Gardiner Street, a short distance from Eccles Street where Fr Sullivan was born in 1861.
Fr Sullivan was the son of Edward Sullivan, a member of the Church of Ireland and a successful barrister who would later be lord chancellor of Ireland. His mother, Elizabeth Bailey, was a Catholic from Cork.
Fr Sullivan followed the route of privileged Protestantism at the time, attending Portora Royal School near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and Trinity College Dublin, before going to London where he studied law.
In 1896, at age 35, he converted to Catholicism, and was ordained a Jesuit priest 11 years later. He joined the teaching staff at Clongowes Wood college, where he remained until his death in 1933 aged 71. He had spent half his life Protestant and half Catholic.
Known for his life of prayer and work with the poor, Fr Sullivan was familiar in the Kildare villages around Clongowes, and spent much of his time visiting the troubled, sick or dying. Even before he died many testified to the healing power of his prayers.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints last year recognised as a miracle attributed to him the recovery from cancer of Dublin woman Delia Farnham in 1954 . One more miracle needs to be proven before he is canonised. It has been emphasised by those promoting his cause how he is “remembered and revered” by both Catholic and Protestant traditions.
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said the recognition of Fr Sullivan’s “holiness has a strong ecumenical feel to it, as he never rejected the influence of the Anglican tradition on his spiritual flourishing”.
Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said “the holiness of John Sullivan was the fruit of his education in both Catholic and Church of Ireland traditions”.
Fr Sullivan’s influence even found its way into the political realm in Ireland. Undoubtedly aware that the priest was born in his Dublin Central constituency, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern quoted him in his farewell speech when he stepped down in 2008.


I grew up and went to school near Dublin's Gardiner Street Jesuit church where Father John Sullivan's body is interred.

I often prayed at his shrine.

But I had a very closs connection with Father Sullivan through another Jesuit - Father John Hyde.

John Hyde was a visitor to my family home when I was a baby in the 1950's and actually had the privilege of concelebrating his Funeral Mass.

Father Hyde wore Father John Sullivan's suit after he died. I can remember it was greenn with age.

Like Father Sullivan John Hyde had the gift of healing and I have many stories of those he healed including family members.

I visited Father Hyde all his life and regard him as the inspiration for my vocation.

I regard him as a saint too.

Haven know saintly priests like Father Hyde makes the current situation in the priesthood more sad.


Friday, 21 April 2017



Sex orgies, prostitution, porn: Allegations shake Catholic Church in Italy

Josephine McKenna | Religion News Service

ROME (RNS) — Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican and challenging the high standards Pope Francis demands of clergy.

In the southern city of Naples, for example, a priest was recently suspended from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli over claims he held gay orgies and used Internet sites to recruit potential partners whom he

The allegations concerning the Rev. Mario D’Orlando were brought to the attention of the diocese when an anonymous letter was sent to a Naples bishop. D’Orlando denied the charges when he was summoned by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, but is now facing a formal inquiry conducted by local church officials.
In the northern city of Padua, a 48-year-old priest, the Rev. Andrea Contin, is facing defrocking as well as judicial proceedings amid accusations he had up to 30 lovers, some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France.

Contin was removed from his parish of San Lazzaro after three women came forward with complaints against him in December. Bishop Claudio Cipolla of Padua cut short a visit to Latin America to deal with the scandal.
“I am incredulous and pained by the accusations,” Cipolla said at a news conference last month. “This is unacceptable behavior for a priest, a Christian and even for a man."

One woman, who claims to have been Contin’s lover for more than three years, claimed the priest carried sex toys and bondage equipment, prostituted his lovers on wife-swapping websites and also invited other priests from the area to sex parties.
“Even if, at the end of this affair, there are no legal consequences, we have a duty by canon law to take disciplinary action,” said Cipolla.

He also revealed Pope Francis telephoned him personally at the end of January to offer his support and urge him to stay “strong.”
Since his election the pope has taken a tough line on ethical behavior in the church, though he has also recognized the reality of human imperfection and personal flaws.
In recent weeks the pontiff has spoken out many times against “temptation,” and last week he told a gathering of clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome that faith could not progress without the challenge of temptation.
“Temptation is always present in our lives. Moreover, without temptation you cannot progress in faith,” he said.

Alberto Melloni, professor of church history at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said there is nothing unusual about scandals in the priesthood.
“There is no sin that a cleric doesn’t commit. Scandals to me seem quite normal,” he said.
“And I think the illusion of stopping scandals through better selection of personnel is not very promising and has not yielded great results. ”
Francis has frequently called for a more rigorous screening process for seminarians, and he has taken direct action when scandals erupt in Italy.
A case in point: When reports of “playboy priests” surfaced in the Italian diocese of Albenga-Imperia in the northern region of Liguria in late 2014, the pope sent a special envoy to investigate claims that clerics had posted nude photos of themselves on gay websites, sexually harassed the faithful and stole church funds.

Two years later the pope replaced the leader of the diocese, Bishop Mario Oliveri.
Austen Ivereigh, commentator and author of The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, said the pope distinguished between sinfulness and corruption and was intent on “rooting out” corruption inside the church.
“The remedy for those who succumb to temptation is forgiveness and a fresh start,” Ivereigh said. “The problem is when priests turn their backs on the people, lead hidden lives and end up justifying their conduct. That’s corruption.
“And it’s only possible in the priesthood because of clericalism. That’s why the pope is so intent on rooting it out.”


These stories keep coming. 

ALL these things are happening in Ireland as well as in Italy. That is:

Bishops covering up for sexually priests.

Bishops accepting sexually promiscuous men for priesthood.

Seminaries accepting and protecting sexually active seminarians - especially when they are gay.

We are well aware of well known situations of this.

Why for instance is Diarmuid Martin Martin and the authorities in The Irish College cutting Gorgeous out of college ceremony pics?

This is obviously an orchestrated effort.

Why ?????????





I came to Toronto, Canada on Wednesday for a week to visit my friends Wim and Sharon whose wedding I celebrated 21 years ago at the Temple of the Winds at Mountstewart in County Down.

We have kept in touch all the years and I have visited them twice in Canada and they have visited me more often.

Wim, who is an airline captain, sent me a ticket for this trip that he had earned with his enormous airmiles.

Wim (70) has had an amazing career. He was born in The Netherlands and joined the Dutch Airforce. Then he moved to Canada and joined the Canadian Airforce. For a number of years he was the personal pilot to the prime minister of Canada.

He then switched to commercial airlines for a number of years and how he pilots a corporate jet for businness people.

We met because he and Sharon were contracted to Airtours Belfast for a few summers to fly passengers from Belfast to holiday destinations like Spain and Turkey.

They wanted to marry in Ireland and were finding it hard to get someone to conduct their ceremony. Their neighbour in Lisburn suggested me. And everything else is history.

Wim is a deeply spiritual man in the non-denominational sense and we have always had deep conversations about things spiritual. 

It has been a bit hectic since I arrived on Wednesday. 

One of the very pleasant things we did was to visit a man called Danny Morrison (87) in his nursing home. He is quite disabled after a stroke but of late he has been writing a book about his many years as a bosun in the Merchant Navy.

There was not a lot I copuld do for Danny. But I found out that he liked the poems of Robert W Service and I read to him the long poem: THE CREMATION OF SAM MAGEE.

Later Wim and Sharon brought me the 90 minute drive into Toronto to have dinner at the revolving restaurant at the top of the CN Tower.

Friday was Sharon's birthday and I treated them to a meal at a nearby Greek restaurant.

Wim had taken a week off from flying to spend with me. He got one emergency call out to fly an organ for transplantation from Toronto to Vancouver - a 5 hour flight each way. I thought that such an important and awe inspiring mission.

Today (Sunday) we are travelling the 5 hours by road to Ottawa where Wim and Sharon have a holiday cottage and where Wim's three children live for a family birthday and reunion.

Also on the list is a large bar-b-que with Wim and Sharon's airline colleages - many of whom attended their wedding 21 years ago.

It's good to get a holiday and a break - especially with treasured friends.

Wim had arranged with his airline to be free for the week I am here. However he got an amergency call out to fly a donated organ from Toronto to Vancouver in his Hawker corporate jet. What a wonderful to be able to do. 

A timely reminder that it is not only priests who are always on call.

But I never regard myself as being "on holiday" from the priesthood. There are always people in airports and on planes to minister to in even tiny little ways.

I am not surgically attached to my clerical collar but I wear it a lot for 2 reasons:

1. To be an obvious witness as a priest.

2. To be available if anyone needs anyone.

Some of the most meaningful pastoral opportunities have happened to me on journies. 

Priests should not be 9 - 5 men.

They should be available 27/7/365 in my opinion.

Greeting to all my loyal readers from Canada.

It's also right to have a good news blog and take a day away from church and clerical scandals :-)


Catholic priest jailed for St Joseph's College sex abuse
Priest’s victim said he cried so often "I could have drowned in my own tears".
Father Michael Higginbottom was found guilty of the "cruel and sadistic" abuse of a teenage boy at St Joseph's College in Upholland, Lancashire.
He was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of four counts each of a serious sexual offence and indecent assault.
The 74-year-old, of West Farm Road, Newcastle, was jailed for 17 years.
The court heard the victim, now in his 50s, was aged between 13 and 14 at the time of the abuse, which began about a week after arriving at the school.
He said he was locked in Higginbottom's living quarters and ordered to undress before being sexually assaulted.
'Became numb'
The victim said he would be hit with a strap if he did not go to the physics teacher's quarters at allocated times.
In a statement read to the court, he said: "My sexual abuse happened so often I became numb to what was happening to me.
"I cried so often I believe I could have drowned in my own tears."
He said he used to pray that he would die to escape the abuse.
"There are worse things than death - living with an evil man and being left alone at Upholland," he said.
College was described as a venue for "mental, physical and sexual abuse" by the victim
The court heard Higginbottom would give electric shocks to pupils as a punishment.
Sentencing, Judge Andrew Menary QC said: "For a period of six months in the late 1970s you made a young boy's life a living hell.
"What you did to him there effectively destroyed the remainder of his childhood and did a good job of destroying any faith he ever had."
He added: "You employed methods which today, if not then, would be recognised for what they were - cruel and sadistic bullying."
During the trial, the court heard previous allegations had been made against Higginbottom in 2007 by another former pupil and the Catholic Church had settled out of court for £35,000.
Police had investigated the claims and, although Higginbottom had been charged, no evidence against him was offered in court and not guilty verdicts were entered.
St Joseph's College, in Upholland, which has now closed, was attended by boys aged 11 to 18, many of whom were considering becoming priests.
The court heard the victim also made allegations against two other priests at the school, but both had since died.

Higginbottom was told he would have to sign the sex offenders register for life.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

‘Father of Travellers’ mourned as TV star’s dad laid to rest

Photos: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A fleet of Rolls Royces, left, outside St Michael’s Church in Ashtead, Surrey, at Simon Doherty’s funeral. Above, floral tributes at the church. Irish dancers, below, perform at the church. Inset, Paddy Doherty.

TRAVELLERS from across Ireland and the UK came together for the funeral of TV personality Paddy Doherty’s father.
Hundreds of mourners joined the ‘Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ and ‘Big Brother’ star to say goodbye to Simon Doherty, remembered as the “father of all Travellers”.

Friends and family attended a service at St Michael’s Church in Ashtead, Surrey, in the UK yesterday. More than a dozen silver Rolls Royces, each bearing the tricolour, lined up outside the church.
Mr Doherty’s coffin was emblazoned with the colours of the Irish flag and the message: “Simon Doherty – Blacksmith, King of all Doherty’s [sic].”
“He was like mafia in his own way, not in a bad way – any trouble they would go to him,” his son Paddy (58) said.
“He was like the godfather – what he said was law. He said I want no one crying at my funeral, I want them happy, singing and get them drunk.”
He sat with his hand resting on his father’s coffin throughout the service and tributes, which included a group of Irish dancers.
“He wasn’t an average man – he was outstanding, a great man,” he added.
“My poor mother – her heart is devastated, her heart is broken. I’m so grateful how many people have turned out.”

Family members wore red ties, Mr Doherty’s favourite colour, which they threw into his grave at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in north London. Floral tributes were laid at the grave in the shape of a shamrock, bottles of whisky, a pint of Guinness and a Rolls Royce.
Mr Doherty, who was in his 80s and known as Simey, and had 15 children and more than 150 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, died in hospital in Epsom last week.


Impressive funeral.

The Travellers know how to splash out in a wedding or a funeral.

I celebrate a few Traveller weddings a month. Some are simple and some are pull the stops out occasions.

When I was a child in the Republic the Traellers were called "tinkers" as they were the ones who mended out pots and pans.

I am all for Travellers rights as an ethnic community BUT rights come with responsibilities - paying tax, obeying the law etc. 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Dáil prayers have no place in an inclusive Ireland

If we want migrants to feel at home, we should end a tradition that implies State endorsement of Christianity

Last week, the Dáil deferred until after Easter a vote on changing the House rules to allow for 30 seconds of “silent reflection” after the traditional prayer is said at the opening of daily business. The period of reflection is intended as a compromise to those who wanted to abolish the prayer.
This debate highlights important issues about the form of religion-state relations in Ireland and in Europe more generally.
Ireland is a long way from being a theocracy. Even in the pious 1930s, politicians resisted demands that the Catholic faith become the official State religion although the State did use the law to enforce religious teachings on matters such as contraception, homosexuality and divorce.
With the secularisation of Irish society since the 1960s the enforcement of religious morality has gradually been abandoned by the State.
Indeed, in recent times political leaders from both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have stated repeatedly that, as politicians in a republic, they recognise that they must leave their religious convictions out of lawmaking. Religious arguments are not a major part of political debate and, although 78 per cent of the population remains Catholic, the church’s teaching does not dominate voting behaviour, as the referendum on marriage equality showed.
And yet, the State is clearly not strictly religiously neutral. In addition to official prayer in the Oireachtas, our national holiday is that of a Christian saint, the Garda badge is cruciform in nature, and Christmas and Easter are public holidays.
Cultural traditions
This is inconsistent with strict religious neutrality to some degree but also reflects the reality that Ireland is not a society that is at year zero but sees itself as a continuation of a mix of particular cultural traditions that go back centuries.
Sustainable societies require some kind of links to an imagined shared past, and in the Irish case that shared past was shaped for many centuries by Christianity. Symbols and festivals that have historical resonance will inevitably reflect the fact that Christianity has been a huge part of Irish culture for 1,500 years. Many national symbols, such as Celtic monastic art, have a national cultural significance independent of their religious nature.
Such Christian-influenced national symbols are not strictly neutral and it is certainly possible that the Christian churches get some kind of benefit from the celebration of St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. But imposing a strict standard of neutrality in these matters would involve a major degree of loss. A religiously neutral alternative to St Patrick’s Day, for instance, is unlikely to have the cultural resonance needed for a meaningful shared national festival.
Ireland is far from unique in this regard. Most European states have a heavy majority of one faith and that faith has moulded national culture to a great degree. Indeed, strict institutional separation of religion and state is relatively rare in Europe. A 2003 survey by academics John Madeley and Zsolt Enyedi showed that not a single European state met the standard of institutional separation of religion and state required by the US supreme court.
At the same time, in political terms European societies are notably secular. Religion is not central to political life the way it is in many countries in Africa and Asia. The weakness of religious influence over law and politics is shown by the degree to which religiously controversial ideas such as gender equality, the right to ridicule religion and gay rights have achieved much wider acceptance in EU member states than in Africa and the Middle East where religion is a huge part of political life.
The problem with the European arrangements is that they rely to a large degree on insider knowledge that allows people to distinguish between the situation on paper and the actual situation. Denmark may have a state church and Dáil sittings may begin with prayers but people are at the same time expected to know that, in both countries, politics and religion are to be kept somewhat apart. If one comes from a society where politics and religion are deeply intertwined, prayers in parliament may appear to be much more than a cultural symbol.
This divide between symbolic religiosity and substantive secular politics leaves European societies open to allegations of hypocrisy when they ask migrants from areas of the world with more muscular religion to accept that religion and politics are separate and that religiously controversial ideas such as free speech on religion and gay rights must be accepted.
‘‘ This divide between symbolic religiosity and substantive secular politics leaves European societies open to allegations of hypocrisy when they ask migrants to accept that religion and politics are separate
Historical resonance
Given the enormous cultural influence of religion over the centuries, an entirely religiously neutral society is unattainable. Symbols and festivals that have historical resonance will inevitably reflect the fact that Christianity has been a huge part of Irish culture for 1,500 years.
However, we should also have an open mind as to which arrangements or symbols go beyond recognition of Christianity’s historic role in Ireland and shade into an appearance of State endorsement of a particular religion. Christian prayers in the Dáil seem to fall on the endorsement side.
It is hard to see a prayer that involves a wish that “Christ Our Lord” will guide parliamentarians’ work as a mere cultural symbol. If we wish migrants to this country to feel at home and to accept a division between religion and politics that may be challenging for them, it is important that the majority appear to honour those commitments too.


Ireland needs to be a modern, secular and pluralist modern democracy.

In such a democracy all religions that are peaceful should be free to prosper but no one religion, even the religio  of the majority, hould be favoured by the state.

Prayers and religious ornaments should not adorn the walls of state institutions.

Politicians should not be trapsing off to religious services - except in their personal capacity.

The Catholic Republic and the Protestant North have been part of the problem and not part of the solution.

All schools should be state schools.

If religions want their own schools then let them pay for them themselves.

The Dail prayer should go.

The Angelus on tv and radio should go too.

Religion is for the home, the church.

As a catholic I need no state to bolster me up - not even the Vatican State