Friday, July 4, 2014


As a member of the Tipperary branch of the Labour Party, I drove to Dublin today with three other fellow members to support Alan Kelly Labour TD for North Tipp in his quest to become the next deputy leader of the Party. We arrived  in time for lunch at the Department of Transport, which was followed by a fascinating tour of the Dail, and then on to the Mansion House, where it was duly announced that Joan Burton had become the first woman ever to be elected as leader of the Labour Party, and some time later it was declared that Alan Kelly had succeeded in securing the position of Deputy Leader. Following the recent kick in the proverbial ass doled out to the Labour Party by the electorate during the recent local and European elections,  there was a real sense today that we have a real opportunity now to show that 'yes' we are part of a coalition government, but we are NOT Fine Gael, and we will NEVER be Fine Gael. There is no doubt in my mind that when Fianna Fail left this country in tatters, the Coalition whilst governing this country within extremely severe constraints, had become so consumed....obsessed with the financial crisis, that they stopped listening to the people on the ground and consequently pushed those that were sacrificing most, over and beyond their limit. The Government had taken their eye off the ball and consequently hardworking and committed Local Council and European Election candidates and the thousands that canvassed for them were sent like lambs to the slaughter, and as it turns out, quite unnecessarily so. Those that voted Labour in the last general election felt betrayed by a  front bench, who appeared not to be willing to put up a fight and were perceived to be more FINE GAEL than the Fine Gael Party themselves. Even if they lost the battle in the end, isn't it better to go down fighting in your own corner with your own identity and principles. Joan Burton is a remarkably able politician and Alan Kelly, as he says himself, 'has Labour in his DNA....' and I genuinely believe that they will fight their corner for the Labour Party and for the workers of this country and those that are seeking work. After a day of speeches of striving for fairness and equality, I sat down tonight to watch the oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave

Quite frankly, I had not been in any hurry to watch this movie, because my daughter, Emma had already told me that it was disturbing, but nothing could have prepared me for the horror of this film, that is based on a true story. I sat in total silence with tears welling up in my eyes; screams choking my throat; and a tightness in my chest, for the entire thing. This film portrays the barbaric nature of the cruel crimes inflicted by the white man upon the black man, in a way that has not been realized so convincingly before. I have only ever been rendered speechless on two occasions following something that I've watched, but for two entirely different reasons. The other occasion was following an overwhelmingly beautiful production of Puccini's opera Tosca in London, which left both Emma and myself unable to communicate with each other for at least a half an hour afterwards. Through his brilliant direction of 12 Years A Slave, Steve McQueen doesn't allow us to feel every lash of the whip through the amount of blood spilled or flesh torn up, but rather, he forces us....enslaves us to feel every lash by leaving the cameras to linger for unusually lengthy periods of time upon an individual face....upon the faces of a group. The Director, then calls upon the chief witness of all this unbearable cruelty, Mother Nature herself, by flogging the camera to soak up the echoes of the black man's tears stitched into each leaf; each branch; each cotton blossom, each stick of sugar cane; and each stretch of sky, sea, swamp and river. It reminded me of how I could feel the echoes of children's unheeded crying from Letterfrack's infamous industrial school , that were heard and trapped within the Twelve Pins and surrounding countryside; and similarly, how I felt the echoes of Indians' tears, trapped within the mountains and countryside surrounding Vancouver, Canada, as they were forced from their lands to live in reservations. Visiting 'Whistler' should have been a highlight, but only served to confuse and leave me feeling increasingly sad and ill at ease. I captured some astonishingly beautiful images during my two week stay in Canada, and always intended to write a blog about my experiences there, but so far, apart from the background photo under the title of my blog, of the gorgeous potholes at Souke, Vancouver Island, I have not been able to do so. I am still confused and probably need to revisit and research more before I could possibly write about this beautiful but desperately sad place.

12 Years A Slave is a remarkable work of cinematic art, that I could never watch again. The saddest thing of all is that in this 21st century, slavery and torture of one form or another is still very much the reality, and there are still hordes of people who believe they are superior to others because of their gender, creed, colour, race, or financial status. I am reminded of  the little girl of a Romany family, who was taken away from her parents quite recently by Gardai without consulting social services or following routine preliminary investigations, simply because she had fair hair. The Romany family might well be suing the State  for gross misconduct, but that little girl's has been dyed nevertheless. Sad.

Today, I felt heartened as I listened to Joan and Alan speaking about fairness and equality, because without those two things, or at least to be striving for those things, we can never truly call ourselves a civilized society.

Ciao for now!

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