We need to break the culture which allows depraved abusers to flourish

Last week, following what I’d call a ‘code red’ situation regarding the increase in the number of women killed in this country last year (and, I’ll add, a phenomenon which continues), a call from the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) was made ‘urging our government to set up domestic homicide reviews’. Well done to the IHREC for at least trying to take action.

It’s been proposed that this domestic homicide review (DHR) would include representatives from the HSE, social services and the Gardaí who would ‘investigate after someone is killed following domestic abuse’, in the hope it will ‘help prevent and eradicate domestic homicides’. So far so good.

However, given in 2021 there were 817 sex crimes with a domestic abuse motivation reported to Gardaí, (compared to 205 offences the previous year, representing a ‘399 per cent increase’ and accounting for a ‘quarter of all sexual offences’ reported that year), it’s clear the time for ‘reviewing’ has come and gone. What we need now is immediate and urgent action.

How many women need to lose their lives in violent circumstances before wider society – and our law-makers – work together to break down the culture which allows these depraved, twisted, power-hungry cowards to flourish?

Only last week, the Court of Appeal heard that a violent individual who ‘raped a woman with a mild intellectual disability’ on a side street, then imprisoned her in his home where he ‘raped her twice again’, was handed down ‘an extraordinarily lenient sentence because ‘he can’t speak English’. I won’t repeat what I said when I heard what I’d call the trial judge’s pathetic reasoning, but suffice to say, the air turned blue, and he-who-was-eating-his-breakfast nearly choked on his fried eggs.

Apparently, at the time of sentencing, the judge had ‘factored in’ this rapist’s status ‘as a foreign national with no English, which would make prison life more difficult for him’.

Well, prison is meant to be difficult. Prison is meant to be a deterrent against reoffending. Prison is not meant to be party-central.

Let me make it clear: rape is rape in any language; therefore if you commit this horrific, violent crime on Irish soil, whatever your nationality, you’d better be prepared to do the time, as per our legislation. End of!

When I read the litany of injuries sustained by that poor woman, I was extremely angry. I wondered why the sentencing judge, (who, albeit acted within their discretion regarding the so-called mitigating circumstances of this perpetrator), felt a full sentence ‘would be 50 per cent more severe for him than a local’. My heart bleeds…not!

This slap-on-the-wrist approach of making allowances for a rapist/violent abuser is never going to prove a deterrent to an offender; nor is it going to educate any man with aggressive, threatening behavioural tendencies towards women and children to take responsibility for their actions. Rather, it’ll have the opposite effect of making them think they can do what they like, when they like, to whomever they like, without the fear of ever facing a punishment.

As I write readers, women and children in this county are living in fear for their lives; yet, it seems, (in this case anyhow), that the original court pulled back on penalising a violent offender.

Thankfully and, may I add rightly, justice has been served because, in their wisdom, the Court of Appeal deemed the ‘discount’ this particular disgusting individual received was ‘excessive’ and his jail term has been increased.

*For those who need help, Women’s Aid’s 24-hour national freephone helpline is available on 1800 341 900; the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s national 24-hour helpline is 1800 77 8888. In an emergency please, please, dial 999.

My thoughts are with the victim; I hope she can focus on her future and will rebuild her life knowing she is a strong and brave survivor.

Internet killed the Argos store

Argos, a retail group which has been almost an institution in our family – as in ‘sure you’ll get that cheaper in Argos’ – revealed it’s closing all 34 of its outlets in Ireland by the end of June, resulting in a loss of 580 jobs, some of which will affect local Rossies.

A staple of any Irish family (and it was voted ‘most-looted shop in Britain, 2011’ – probably because it stocks everything) you could say that Argos has reached cult status.

Memorable for its inexpensive jewellery – remember the cheesy, yet obligatory Elizabeth Duke clown necklace of the ‘80s – and the miniscule in-store pens provided so shoppers could jot down their order numbers for the cashier, Argos is now sadly, no more (as of this June). In fact those little pens and order slips haven’t been a feature of Argos for a long time, this  following its decision to scrap their physical A to Z flip-through catalogue in favour of online browsing.

Yes folks, it’s been a while since I’ve sat on the sofa, catalogue in hand, precariously balanced cup of coffee on the armrest, as I leafed through thousands of glossy pages circling ‘stuff’ and ‘thingamajigs’ I didn’t need, but wanted anyway!

Mind you, the demise of Argos won’t affect the younger smartphone-browsing-generation who’ll fail to see the significance of the annual Christmas ‘book of dreams’ that you handed your kids to make their ‘Santy list’ – and, in my case, to keep the little darlings quiet for an hour or two.

Farewell Argos, no more will we hit you up for our electrical items, bikes, garden sheds, TVs, and everything else a good Irish home needs. Your absence as an employer (and my thoughts are with those losing their jobs), and as a supplier, will be felt nationwide.

Denis Naughten stepped up and took action

It’s not in my nature both as a voter and (especially not) as a journalist who must remain fair and balanced at all times, to show bias towards any politician.

However, I have to say well done to Independent Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughten for his part in the ‘new protocol’ at Roscommon Hospital which allows ambulances to bring patients (who meet certain clinical criteria),and who’d otherwise become victims of the trolley crisis, directly to the hospital.

We all remember how former Taoiseach Enda Kenny promised to ‘protect and defend’ the A&E at our local hospital; then, no sooner was he elected, he oversaw its closure. And yes, I know I should ‘let it go’ but I won’t! I’m sick to my back teeth of the way in which the good and decent people of this county have their rights abandoned and their entitlements erased by those in power…and breathe!

Back to Denis, a man who, when everyone else seemed to wring their hands and shake their heads in exasperation, stepped up, took action, and provided results. Go raibh maith agat Denis!