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Archive for May 2012

Lies of Silence

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Imagine the scene. You are the boss of a major company, and one of your employees comes to you in a panic. Someone has willingly put another co-worker in jeopardy by not fixing one of the machines properly. The same co-worker loses an arm in a horrible accident, limiting his life and as such putting a strain on his marriage, livelihood and ability to provide for his family. You are called to task over the accident, you disclose the name of the worker that jeopardised the safety of the whole company, you included. He is put to trial and found guilty and thusly sentenced to 7 – 10 for endangering the lives of all the workers and harm caused to the worker that lost his arms. That seems like the normal procedure for someone in power right? Apparently you’ve never seen the work of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Sean Brady, who in 1975 was a mere underling in the proceedings at the age of 36, oversaw an interview with abuse victim, Brendan Boland. Boland, along with other children were taken away to remote locations and savagely abused by monster priest Brendan Smyth. Boland had enough and told his parish priest about the abuse. On hearing the revelations, Boland’s parish priest took the boy to his superiors. And Sean Brady conducted the interviews with Brendan Boland. He was interviewed on his own and his father, who was totally unaware of the severity of the abuse, was asked to stay outside.

The interview was abhorrent and contained such questions as “Do you think you could grow to like it?” and “Did seed emerge from your body at any point?” Over the course of the interview Boland put forward both names and addresses of the other children that Brendan Smyth abused. They were taken down by Sean Brady and Brendan Boland was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement stating he would not tell anyone about the interview. Here’s where the cover up begins.

Brendan Boland in his innocence, whatever was left after Smyth thought that putting forward the names and addresses of the other children would put an end to the hurt, anger and frustration he and the others felt. But this did not happen. Instead Sean Brady filed the report and passed the names and addresses onto his superiors, but neglected to inform the children’s parents or the local police.

By not forwarding this vital information Brady linked himself in with the vicious cycle of abuse Smyth perpetrated and continued to carry out on one boy until the winter of 1976. And he also abused that boy’s sisters for seven years, and four of his cousins up until 1988. Thirteen years of vicious abuse that could have, I am not saying it would have as cover ups are a speciality, but it could have been if only Brady had passed on the information and a case could have been made against Smyth sooner.

Now in the wake of the documentary The Shame of The Catholic Church Cardinal Sean Brady, yes that is not a typo the man was made lead Catholic in Ireland, a position that surely should go to someone that would morally do all in his power to protect any human never mind a child. In the wake of the revelations, Cardinal Brady (sickens me to dignify the man with that title) has been revelling in that church staple, rhetoric.

The usual lines have come pouring from his mouth, when asked about bot informing the police and parents, “I regret very much that they weren’t and obviously if they were in this situation now, I would insist that they be informed.” Well hats off to you Sean. Let’s all bow at your reverend feet. If I was two foot taller I could have been a great basketball player, rhetoric is for idiots and rats trapped in a corner.

So with Brady spouting pre-written lines, delivered with one emotion, blatant un-interest, what did the church do with Brendan Smyth when it was reported of him abusing countless children? Well they shuffled him around and only recently it emerged that Smyth’s original diocese could face fresh lawsuits after it played a part in reinstating Smyth’s ability to say mass there. He was given permission to have contact with children back in 1984. That’s right, despite being aware of Smyth’s abuse Bishop Francis McKiernan authorised this contact. That reeks of the old, “ah sure go on about your business, and keep it on the lowdown, no-one else’s business.” Disgusting.

Now what did Cardinal Brady do in the intern? He jetted off to Rome to represent us at a Vatican conference. A man who ignored the discovery of a vicious paedophile and his victims represented me and you in the holiest of cities, Rome, enough to make you sick to your stomach. And now he refuses to step down, and has been quoted as saying, “There have been many calls for me to stay on.” Glory, glory hallelujah, his truth is marching on, brothers and sisters.

There’s a lovely photo of Cardinal Brady on the Armagh diocese website which shows him smiling and wearing his tainted garments. And apparently he has an aim in this parish. The aim is “to be the Body of Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit so that we can live like Jesus in our time and place sharing his compassionate love with all.” So the next time you, your child or anyone else is accused of taking the lord’s name in vain, think of the Cardinal of Ireland doing just that by simply waking up in a parochial house every morning.



Written by thepanch

May 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm

A Shambles In Two Acts

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In response to the shambles that has become The Athenaeum “Restoration” fund, let me just say this.

To whom it may concern (I’m not writing two letters…..)

I am genuinely surprised that it took this long for egos to creep in and poison the well of creativity and good spirit that drew me to the project in the first place. Many a discussion was had by me and good friends regarding what could be done to bring some culture back into this town. Top of the list was always, “It’d be great to get the Athenaeum opened again.” Then this was quickly followed by joyous stories of doing shows with just three curtains rested on a massive loo roll holder to hide your teenage shame. My first experience on that stage began with some encouragement from the late Mr. Michael Talbot, a beautiful, quietly creative man that hailed from Galway and came to teach kids in St. Mary’s CBS, Mill Park Road.

He asked me and three other lads would we mind helping out “backstage” at the musical in town as part of our Gaisce Award in Transition Year. The Musical Society was under the direction of Mr. Ray Quigley and it took him about two days to persuade us to actually appear on stage. And that was it, I can’t speak for the other two guys but I was hooked. The buzz, the smiles, the laughter and the applause, I loved it all. My first experience of performing to people took place in the Athenaeum. And if I had space, I could list out over two hundred people in the same boat.

My how perspectives have changed since then. Now we’re not talking about a building that had the pleasure of playing host to Matty Kinnaird, Harry Ringwood, countless productions of the Musical and Drama Society. Not to mention the part the building played in 1916. No, now we’re stuck in a battle of school children’s egos. “It’s my building.”… “I’m the director… No, I’m the director….. I’m the director and I’m in bar for eternity and I have a force field, no comebacks.”

Hang your heads. Hang your heads in shame. Anyone that has had the pleasure of being on that stage and anyone with a love for the old bricks and mortar does not care one iota who is leader of a board. On the subject of boards, sort it out or leave and form another board, preferably full of outsiders. More importantly, sort it out and get the building opened so that the future generations of thinkers, dreamers, lovers, actors and musicians can enjoy the energy that hits you just upon waking into that hollowed building.



Jamie Murphy

Written by thepanch

May 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Thoughts, Uncategorized

Sign Of The Times

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In the mid 1980’s and the “Hey Ronnie Regan, I’m black and I’m pagan, I’m gay and I’m left and I’m free. I’m an un-fundamentalist, environmentalist. Don’t bother me” era, there were a slew of pro-America films brought out disguised as macho, “action flicks.” The most prominent of these being the Delta Force films starring Chuck Norris. I can’t recall the actual number of sequels. I think there were 12, the most successful being Delta Force: Journey Into The Roundhouse. Anyway, they were blatantly jingoistic in their gung-ho stories of Norris’s Major Scott McCoy and his elite band of marines that defeat Lebanese, Afghan and other foreign ne’er do wells. All in the name of Reagan’s America and their never ending conquest to be the ultimate power. This is also relevant in Stallone’s Rambo III. The one where John J. Rambo single-handedly defeats the whole of Afghanistan armed with a sweaty vest a headband and loads of fire power.

In Sly’s defence he was contracted for another film of Rambo and defeating fictional terrorists in real life countries was a popular choice. God bless ya Ronnie. And as a result, whether intentional or not, films do reflect the culture into which they are released, as does music, art and literature. But film has a particular relevance as sometimes they can be used as a director or writer’s vehicle for digging at whatever grinds their gears. For example, Born on The Fourth Of July is a harsh but realistic story of how shabbily Vietnam vets were treated on their return from duty. And more recently, The Social Network showed the creation of Facebook. And the subsequent damage that site did to the creators, but this was also an allegory of the way social networking has decreased our fondness for physical contact and actual human interaction.

In the 1970’s, cinema was hit with a slew of “grindhouse” flicks and films that ousted the boundaries of what was considered “good taste”. Most notably, Last House On The Left, Wes Craven’s masterful film which dealt with the abuse, rape and subsequent death of two teenage girls. As Craven himself has said, “The Vietnam War was going on, and the most powerful footage we saw was in actual documentary films of the war. In Last House, we set out to show violence the way we thought it really was and to show the dark underbelly of the Hollywood genre film. We consciously took all the B-movie conventions and stood them on their heads.”

Another one of these horror films that for me sums up the feelings of anger, frustration and sadness of a nation during and after the Vietnam War is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Tobe Hooper’s 1974 flick. This film caused a furore on its release and was universally panned on its release and as a result was banned in several countries. But it went on to gross €30 million at the domestic box office. It can also be credited with the start of the “slasher” genre’s use of power tools as murder weapons, and portraying the main killer as a faceless hulking figure of pure evil. But what made it culturally relevant?

The Vietnam War was raging and the faceless killer Leatherface could be viewed as any high ranking army or government official presiding over the slaughter of thousands upon thousands of young men in Cambodia and Vietnam. Think about it for a minute, we never see the man behind the mask but over the course of an hour and a half he is responsible for ending the lives of six teenagers. Not too much of a stretch. And then there is the small matter of Leatherface’s “family”. They are all drooling, moronic cannibals with about one brain between six. For years Americans have strode to perfect the dream and have the “perfect family.” A bunch of drooling idiots could be more apt in certain circumstances.

The shoot itself is a tale of squeezing an already lifeless calf. The restrained budget meant that Hooper shot the film in just under four weeks, often working 16 hours a day. In the summer. In Texas. Gunner Hansen, who plays Leatherface, remembers nearly actually going crazy due to the long hours and having to wear the same costume for the entire month as budget would not stretch to second one. He said that by the end of the shoot his costume was so tarred in fake blood that it virtually “stood up by itself.”

Rewatching Chainsaw with these new ideas and thoughts, it begged me to ask the question. Leatherface is the one brandishing a working chainsaw but in reality is he the real villain here?

Written by thepanch

May 1, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Posted in Thoughts, Uncategorized

Cabin In The Woods

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They say familiarity breeds contempt. Well that would be what one would expect from the trailers for The Cabin In The Woods, the new film from producer Joss Whedon, he of Buffy fame or infamy depending on your view on hot vampire slayers. The trailer offers up that distinct feeling of “Great, here we go again, bunch of attractive young people head into the woods… blah…. Blah……. Killer, stabby stabby.” And yes, this is true, but this is also where the sheer joy and fun of this film enters into the fray. It is all those things but the film treats the familiar aspects of the genre with tender love, affection and its tongue wedged in its bloodied cheek.

I don’t want to give the plot away, but five friends head to an abandoned cabin for a holiday. Unbeknownst to these attractive people (most notably Thor and Avery from Grey’s Anatomy) their movements and subsequent fates are being controlled from high above or down below ground in a shiny, steel office which wouldn’t look out of place in Dr. No’s volcano. They are constantly monitored and are dealt with by the flick of a switch or the push of a button.

This is where the fun begins. All of the deaths are extremely fun to watch. There is the perfect amount of blood matched with well-timed scares and suitable pre murder tension. You know you’re going to see all of these people die, but you don’t feel short changed as it has been done before. You feel exhilarated and I found myself laughing out loud and cheering, actually pumping my fist in the air saying, “Holy s***, that was awesome” after one particular death.

The script is knowing without disappearing up its own arse and delivers many belly laughs. A standout scene is when the blonde one makes out with a stuffed wolf. Funnier than it sounds, trust me. The cast do a stellar job with their respective roles. You know the ones, Jock, Slut, Stoner, Clever male, clever female. And again not to give the plot away, but these characteristics are not apparent on first meeting the five young people, again playing with the expectations of the genre.

Before I go I have to mention the opening. There are shots of human sacrifice, effigies on walls and it cuts to a black screen with the title of the film in blood red block capitals. Instant flashes of 70’s slasher films came to mind and I smiled, maintaining that smile throughout the film. It sets itself up from the outset. And there are vast movie references littered throughout the film, my favourite being the obvious Evil Dead nod and the less obvious Hellraiser nod.

I can highly recommend this film. It does exactly what it says on the tin. And for once a slasher film, a genre that has long since been lazy and almost old-fashioned, this is not a bad thing




Written by thepanch

May 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm