They tried to shut her up, but thankfully they failed! And so, last week, while giving a speech during International Women’s Day at the Voice of Faith in Rome, former President of Ireland Mary McAleese (a woman I greatly admire), told it like it is when she described the Catholic Church as an “empire of misogyny”.
Now understandably, Mrs. McAleese’s perspective, and indeed her attitude, has raised the ire of many. One of those she infuriated is a so-called educated gentleman whom, upon approaching me to ask my own opinion on Dr. McAleese’s address, ranted like a stroppy spoiled brat, using some highly scurrilous and offensive terms to describe our esteemed former President. When I told him I agreed with her, the cantankerous curmudgeon then struggled to contain his demeanour as he spewed forth with bilious insults relating to women and their role in the Catholic Church! Wow, proof indeed, if it were needed, that education clearly doesn’t (necessarily) equal good manners.
Mind you, said, ahem, ‘gentleman’ (I’d love to call him a more colourful term but this is a respectable family publication), wasn’t best pleased when I gave him short shrift; my parting shot being to direct him to climb down out of a certain part of his anatomy because he clearly wasn’t as eminently qualified as Mrs. McAleese to address the role of women in the Church.
You see, readers – I applaud any woman who has withstood a two-term presidency of this country. Indeed, one of the proudest moments of my own career while working at RTE, (and I’ve had many proud moments as a journalist/producer; for example it was very satisfying when I investigated and exposed a paedophile ring), was the day an invitation to afternoon tea with our then President McAleese arrived on my desk.
The official envelope from the Áras was received with great excitement in my Montrose office, and I immediately headed into town to treat myself to a Roland Mouret dress for the big occasion. Couldn’t afford that now!
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, which was spent drinking tea and eating petit fours and scones with Mary…that’s what she told me to call her, as we exchanged the highs and lows of being working mothers, etc. That’s all I’m going to say about our ‘off the record’ chat because I wasn’t there as a journalist, I was there as a guest of this woman, who obviously feels genuinely let down by a religion and a Church she loves deeply.
But I can see why, given his alleged description of female theologians as “strawberries on the cake,” that Pope Francis may not be a fan of our Mary! But to be honest ladies, the Catholic Church has tortured this specific metaphor regarding our gender for so long it should really be sent before a tribunal at The Hague! Just my little joke, but I do hope you can see how ludicrous, outdated, institutionalised and unbending the Catholic Church can be, and how accurate and appropriate Mary McAleese’s speech was.
I mean, all this woman did was reasonably and passionately call for equality and change, in order that women would be included in the decision-making process of our doctrine! I don’t think that’s too much to ask…do you?
More explosive allegations, but we must stand by our local Gardaí!
We’re familiar with Garda ‘whistleblower’ Maurice McCabe and the excruciating difficulties he’s experienced due to an alleged rancorous smear campaign levelled against him because he tried to do the right thing, the honest thing, and expose certain issues around penalty points, etc. So, last week, when I heard how two Garda civilian staff members, analysts Lois West and Laura Galligan, had claimed they’d endured ‘15 months of torment’ regarding pressure placed on them to approve ‘incorrect homicide data’ they knew was iffy – and which, they quite rightly, had a problem with doing – I wasn’t really surprised. In fact, I’m incensed that apparently certain violent individuals’ capabilities to inflict serious harm, even death, on their innocent victims, (including some women who were killed in their homes), is being allegedly inadequately investigated and misclassified as non-crimes.
Under what must have been intolerable pressure to keep schtum, these women, having found no joy when they raised issues with senior Gardaí, (who allegedly dismissed and disparaged them), then allegedly, (there’s that word again), took their concerns to the Policing Authority, ‘in confidence’, which bizarrely ‘leaked back to senior Garda management.’ So, who snitched them out and were Lois and Laura bitten by the watchdog?
Look, if these explosive allegations are found to have substance, then the authority whose aim it is to identify mechanisms that encourage ethical and professional practice and prevent wrongdoing in this organisation needs to take responsibility; and, as a matter of urgency introduce innovations to improve the public’s trust, confidence and perceptions of what I genuinely believe, is, overall, a fine police force.
We must get behind our local Gardaí, folks. We must show them our support and respect, especially during this very difficult time. Remember, these are honourable men and women doing a difficult and dangerous job protecting us and our communities for a pitiful salary, and these scandals shouldn’t negatively affect their personal integrity. Next time you see a local Garda in the street, smile, say “Hi” and let them know they’re valued.