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Listowel December 21, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Such an expression of sympathy for a convicted sex offender in a court, as seen in Listowel, where the victim is present speaks of some sort of disconnect between the reality of what happened and the perceptions of those expressing sympathy. This inability to come to terms with the nature of such crimes seems near-inexplicable, particularly now when the veil of secrecy around them is much less than it used to be, this inversion of sympathy whereby the victim can be bypassed both literally in the courtroom and figuratively – one thinks of the comments of Fr Sheehy, and in particular his thought that ‘the victim didn’t seem to him to be traumatised or particularly nervous’ which locks straight into a discourse of minimising these crimes and the effects of these crimes and – of course – into an older and pernicious dynamic as regards gender balance of power.

Sheehy seems entirely gormless in his approach, and it is hard to understand why he was unable to find the ability to step back from these events until he removed himself from the picture. His misfortune, on top of his sheer idiocy in shaking hands and sympathising (sympathising? – even to say it makes the oddity of such actions come clear) and then exhibiting a tone deaf understanding of why others might be genuinely outraged by such actions, is that he provides a sort of explication redux of a greater disconnect between Church and society at the very point where it is the simple inability of the many in the Church to comprehend why their actions and inactions were wrong is laid bare by the slow slow journey towards resignation by a number of Bishops.

But this isn’t about the Church. It’s about the response of a broader group of citizens who just don’t get it. If Listowel points up a sometime disconnect between sexual crimes and perception of those crimes there is one basic truth. The crime stands. All the outpourings of sympathy and support mitigate not one iota the reality of the original offense. How could they?

Fundamentally this is about taking responsibility both for ones own actions and – as far is applicable – the actions of those one seeks to support (the Irish Times editorial at the weekend made the valid point that this undercut directly the decision of the jury). That crowd in Listowel forgot or ignored that latter point. Implicitly and arguably explicitly they disregarded their greater responsibility to the victim than the perpetrator. By their actions they compounded the hurt and dislocation of the victim and they did it in the most provocative way possible. And in doing so they compounded the hurt and dislocation of other victims elsewhere who might wonder what justice is served if the courtroom itself potentially becomes a forum for their further isolation.

That may scan as sanctimonious, but sometimes language is unable to step up and deal with events like this. They quite literally beggar belief.

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1. L - December 21, 2009

Astounding indeed, if not terrifying. Sometimes one can forget how reactionary the mindset of the broad community can be, or segments thereof at any rate. Nowt so queer as folk.

I live in a rural area myself and after 10 years out here I’m used to the traditionalism. Not saying that it’s like Listowel, but with 90%+ church attendence out here it’s an indicator that the peasant community, and its associated regressive tendencies, hasn’t gone away yet you know.

As for the gormlessness of the priest involved, does anyone really expect anything different? Onwards to the secular republic I say, and show no mercy to those who stand in the path of progress.

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2. CL - December 21, 2009

The criminal bishops walk free and are not prosecuted for crimes against children.
When the education of children is in the hands of facilitators and protectors of serial rapists why should an outbreak of Talibanism anywhere in Ireland be a surprise?
The trappings of modernity conceal the medieval reality.

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3. Eagle - December 21, 2009

I’d like to know more about Fr. Sheehy. The diocese says he’s retired from an American diocese, but I haven’t been able to find out which one. I’d also like to know how old he is.

He’s not a regular priest in Castlegregory, but was standing in for the parish priest, who’s ill. One problem the Church has these days is that so there are so few priests that when they need stand-ins they’re often asking men who are really too old, even mentally slipping. I’ve been in a few churches in recent years where the priest forgot what he was saying and in one case had to be reminded as to what he was supposed to be doing.

I don’t know if Fr. Sheehy is mentally slipping or not, but he seemed almost clueless and shockingly short of any understanding of the world at all.

According to yesterday’s Sun Independent, the victim was happy to get the support of the local canon and the bishop.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

I saw that too. Clearly Sheehy was on a solo run.

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4. Brian Hanley - December 21, 2009

I would hazard a guess that this has little to do with ‘peasants’ or religion and a lot to do with class. Without knowing the local scene I can only assume it’s like most places where people have a finely tuned sense of the social pecking order. This young woman came from a council estate while the offender has a much more ‘respectable’ background allegedly. The idea that a woman who get’s drunk is somehow ‘asking for it’ is still pretty widespread and I saw recently that female jurors in rape cases are actually less sympathetic to victims than men. This problem is a lot wider than Listowel.
By the way Fr. Sheehy isn’t particularly old or doddery: though he only arrived in the parish after the offence happened.

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Eagle - December 21, 2009

Brian,

Interesting that he’s not “particularly old or doddery.” Makes me wonder why he retired.

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LeftAtTheCross - December 21, 2009

Brian, by using the word “peasant” I was trying to encapsulate all that goes along with a traditional hierarchical class based rural society, the social pecking order which you refer to, the knowledge of everyone’s business that is part of small communities, the absense of social anonymity which city dwellers assume and take for granted, the whispering, the labelling of children for the sins of their parents, all of that.

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Tomboktu - December 21, 2009

I would hazard a guess that this has little to do with ‘peasants’ or religion and a lot to do with class.

In the area where I grew up, a few years ago there was a series of sexual assaults, including at least one completed rape. They occurred in an estate, and the women who were attacked were dragged into lane ways behind the houses. (These have since had gates installed at the ends.) The attacks were unusual in that they occurred in the morning while the women were on their way to get the bus to work. A young man was arrested, and eventually convicted. A local councillor (now ex) said a tthe time that the identity of the attacker was a shock as he came from a decent family.

I never did figure out why the ex-councillor thought family origin was an indicator of propensity to commit rape.

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Crocodile - December 21, 2009

I don’t want to labour the point about partisanship, but I’d guess that the reaction, the closing of ranks, would have been much the same whatever the relative social positions of the protagonists, and to that extent the question of class is a red herring. Small Irish towns are as good at ganging up on aristocrats or foreigners as they are on council-housed single mothers. After all, in JB Keane’s ‘The Field’, a text frequently referenced in commentary on this case, the victim is financially and socially privileged. It’s enough to be outside the tribe, to be wrong.

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Tomboktu - December 22, 2009

Even in the class thing is a red herring, I am still puzzled by the closing of ranks is a case of rape, whether with a high profile as seen in Listowel or more low-key approach in the area I grew up in.

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5. sonofstan - December 21, 2009

Brian is right: I was talking to someone over the weekend who knows the area and some of the people involved and that was pretty much exactly the scenario outlined.

Another thought: Listowel holds a Writers’ Week in June every year that is widely attended by authors and aspirants from all over: I would imagine the organisers must be a little concerned as to how this will play with their likely attendees.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

I can well believe there was a class element to this. Which makes it all the more striking.

Yeah, it would be unfortunate if Listowel merely became a shorthand for something like this. But the fact they hit national prominence, and one wonders how often this sort of thing happens elsewhere makes that almost inevitable.

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sonofstan - December 21, 2009

It’s strange isn’t it that when this happens, when a sizable portion of a community rallies around a convicted sex offender, and effectively tries to deny the power of the courts to settle such issues, and instead goes for justice by acclamation, at the other end of the country, Gerry Adams, president of an organisation that has long specialised in a form of ‘community’ justice is ‘outing’ his own father as a sex offender and asking his brother to turn himself in to the PSNI. Admiring Gerry Adams is not something that comes easily to me, but this has to have taken personal courage and a degree of honesty.

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LeftAtTheCross - December 21, 2009

The times are a changing alright. Have to say that although I don’t have any time for the Provos I do occasionally read Adams’ blog (http://leargas.blogspot.com/). At the level of that blog he comes across very well.

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KirghizLight - December 21, 2009

Indeed, it appears that the ‘real’ victim is the town of Listowel: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/1221/1224261043378.html

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sonofstan - December 21, 2009

Public officials in Listowel were extremely concerned at the bad press the town was getting, but would not take sides in what was a tragic case for two people and for two local families, she added.

Note the implied equivalence there. And yet it’s not hard to imagine the same voices being raised in protest at ‘too much sympathy’ being shown for the criminal in other circumstances.

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EamonnCork - December 21, 2009

“Their heritage and literary town.” Oh, well that makes a huge difference obviously. It’s not like it’s some unfashionable spot like Granard or Ballinspittle that deserves every bit of derision it gets. “Public officials won’t take sides.” Who can blame them? That old Rapist v Rape Victim thing is always a difficult one to decide.

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

The worst thing about this is that to say it’s ‘shocking’ which it is just sounds empty.

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6. EamonnCork - December 21, 2009

On one level this isn’t about the church though you could say that it the role of the church in shaping the mores of the local community over the decades have everything to do with it. Interesting to hear about the class aspect of it, which doesn’t surprise me. I am always astonished to hear that lads poncing around the place acting the heavy at the doors of takeaways and nightclubs are regarded as men of respect, they are and it’s a new odd development, not unconnected with the odd notion that publicans are everyone’s friend. Perhaps the worst thing about small towns is that what Brian said about the pecking order and LATC about their hierarchial nature is viewed as one of the best features of the places by many people who live there. A lot of people like to be able to place and blame and categorise and know everyone belonging to everyone. The anonymity of the city would be viewed as being to the city’s great discredit. Give it a very short space and we will be reading articles about how Listowel is a fantastic place much traduced by Dublin 4 straw men, you can put them in the file along with the run of articles ‘understanding’ Padraig Nally.

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7. crocodile - December 21, 2009

The long feature in the Weekend section of the Irish Times by Rosita Boland is instructive. She can find only one local prepared to be quoted and named. Also only one who will support the victim – a distant relative.
It’s not only country towns that operate on the ‘my gang, right or wrong’ principle. In Irish business and politics matters of allegiance always supersede matters of morality. We re-elect crooks because they’re crooks and turn a blind eye to crime when it’s our crowd doing it.
It’s trivial in comparison to this case, I know, but I was struck in the Thierry Henri handball case by how many Frenchmen like David Ginola were prepared to condemn the act as wrong, even though one of their own committed it. It would be unimaginable for an Irish commentator to do that, because for us the act is always less important than which side we’re on.

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sonofstan - December 21, 2009

Yeah, i remember thinking at the time that if the ball had been on the other hand, no Irish person, at the risk of exile would have dared to say what Ginola – and many others – said.

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Dr. X - December 21, 2009

Actually, I could see Eamon Dunphy doing exactly that – but he would be the exception that proves the rule.

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ejh - January 1, 2010

Well, him and you-know-who

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8. John Green - December 21, 2009

Apropos of Padraig Nally and the proposed “have a go” law, I see the BNP say they would introduce a similar “Tony Martin” law in the UK.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1459558/Vote-BNP-and-give-Britain-a-dictator-says-Tony-Martin.html

(sorry for linking to the Telegraph).

I see Nally slags off the proposed law, though.

http://www.herald.ie/national-news/farmer-hits-out-at-have-a-go-law-1974998.html

(Sorry for linking to the Herald).

I’m tempted to mention Marx’s comment about the idiocy of rural life, but I know there’s bound to be some smart-aleck who’ll come one here and correct my translation of Idiotismus. ;-)

http://www.monthlyreview.org/nfte1003.htm

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9. sonofstan - December 21, 2009

BTW, has there been a peep out of any of the TDs for Kerry North? Jimmy Deenihan, Tom McEllistrim or Martin Ferris?

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T - December 21, 2009

Jimmy Deenihan was just on the radio show that Matt Cooper presents essentially denying the victim had been ostracised and generally treated badly by many of the people of Listowel…..basically out of the woodwork to defend the good name of the town.

While I’m here I’ll say to me this looks very much like a class issue and a popularity contest rather than the Church dominated backwoodsmen trope.

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10. Niall - December 21, 2009

Just a quick question, but if any of you were in a situation where you believed somebody to be innocent and the victim of a miscarriage of justice, would you avoid shaking hands or offering sympathies to them in public?

How many of those who offered the convict sympathies believed him to be guilty of the crime? I’d wager the vast majority did not.

This case doesn’t really reflect our society’s views on sexual assault or women. It reflects the fact that we look after our own and even when the evidence suggests otherwise, we think the best of them.

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Tim - December 21, 2009

Or do they maybe believe that rape is not a “real” crime?
That is a possibility in all this, and they may believe that he is in fact the victim of a “hysterical woman”. I am sure there are sectors of society where this view is held, after all, is it not a traditional view in Ireland that women are temptresses; harlots whose sexual powers are to be feared?

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11. sonofstan - December 21, 2009

As far as i can tell the evidence offered was pretty conclusive – CCTV footage that directly contradicted the attacker’s story and so on. My read is that they know full well he’s guilty but think she was ‘asking for it’ in some unspecified way, just as women always seem to do in such circumstances by, you know, wearing clothes and looking attractive, and going out on their own and drinking….and worse, by being of a lower social class than their attacker and therefore ‘fair game’.

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T - December 21, 2009

The claim of the people supporting Foley/attacking the victim seems to be more she cried rape so as her boyfriend would not find out she was being unfaithful – when they were found by the Garda – rather than the sultry temptress leading him on wearing a mini-skirt type narrative which would be traditional.

Judging by media reports (like in the Irish Times weekend section) and the facebook screenshots attacking the victim which were on politics.ie and a guess as to who would be working in the shops, pubs and chippers where the victim it is reported is being refused service the support/blackballing is broad in terms of age and gender.

I think it boils down to ‘good family’ versus council estate, popular guy versus quiet girl….with no one paying any attention to the damning evidence – CCTV and especially Garda witnesses were more central to conviction than the word of the victim (also she had physical injuries), their minds were probably made up long before the trial. In addition perhaps the myth central to the Listowel case is that this sort of thing isn’t done by ordinary decent blokes?

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

That seem’s true as well T. It’s a depressing prospect either way.

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12. Niall - December 21, 2009

Tim/Son of stan, you’re projecting beliefs on to the situation rather than reading from it. It may be that these people don’t believe that sexual assault is a real crime, but we’ve no evidence to suggest that. Given that such a belief is uncommon (certainly I’ve never met anybody who has given me any impression of such a belief), it would seem premature to make that assumption.

The CCTV footage contradicts his original story, but, just because somebody lies to the Garda doesn’t mean they’re guilty. Now it’s a pretty good indication that something is amiss, but if you have an emotional investment in the belief that X is a decent guy, then you’re more likely to interpret that lie as a foolish attempt to avoid trouble than as evidence of guilt.

Look at, say, Michael Jackson. Had we first encountered Jacko as a weird oil baron who had a ranch called Neverland where he brought kids and slept with them, the vast majority would have assumed he was a paedophile, but, because people had an emotional investment in Jacko having seen him grown up and having grown up with him, people were much quicker to give him the benefit of the doubt than they would have been had some unknown person been accussed of the crime.

We’re encountering the convict for the first time in a situation where we’re told that he has been found guilty. Our knowledge of him is limited to his job description and the crime we’re told he is guilty of. Expecting the people who’ve known him all of his life to have the degree of detachment is a bit too much.

To avoid any unwanted arguments, let me emphasise, I’m not claiming that the convict is innocent or that what those 50 people did was right. I’m claiming that those who argue that the case shows us that certain undesirable attitudes to rape/sexual assault exist in Listowel or Ireland, ignore simpler explanations for those 50 people’s actions.

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sonofstan - December 21, 2009

He dragged/ carried her half-naked and semi-conscious body and dumped it by a skip where he thought she would be concealed: ” a foolish attempt to avoid trouble’? ……

To repeat, as far as I’m aware, no one is disputing that there was sex between the two -what is disputed is whether it was consensual: does the scene above suggest the routinely post- coital?

A Jury found him unanimously guilty and the judge imposed a relatively stiff penalty, given that the charge was sexual assault and not rape. And yet you think the reaction of up to 50 people was ‘understandable?’. Ask yourself this; suppose he’d been accused of incest, or of abusing a child? do you think, even with less conclusive evidence, his friends and neighbours would have stood by him? my guess is no, which would seem to indicate that ‘a certain undesirable attitude to rape/ sexual assault exists in Listowel’ in that it is not seen as a serious crime.

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Niall - December 22, 2009

And if the charges had been terrorism? Murder?

I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘understandable’ or why it is between inverted commas. If allegations of child abuse been made, I doubt many would have stood by him in the same way, but perhaps that has more to do with the hysterical attitude we have to child abuse allegations in this country in the modern age. When it comes to child abuse, we tend to assume that, once an allegation has been made, one is guilty until proven innocent. It’s not a particularly useful comparison to make.

As for consensual sex, from what I’ve heard, and we’re talking about water cooler talk, he performed oral sex on her. There was not sex in the more traditional sense of the word.

T, if a family member of mine were accussed of rape or sexual assault and I belived them to be innocent then I would not hesitate to stand by them in court, regardless of what a jury found. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck what impact that action would have on victims of rape. If I think somebody innocent, I’m not going to treat them as though were guilty, even if treating them as the innocent person I believe them to be causes hurt to the victims of the crime my family member was accussed of.

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13. Fred Johnston - December 21, 2009

I find this hounding of Sheehy tedious and hypocritical, especially on the part of the media, who shut up like clams when an eminent Irish novelist and prominent publisher offered literary character testimony recently on behalf of an Irish writer subsequently convicted of sexual assault on a 15 year old boy. They had, as Sheehy had, a right to offer character testimony: put it another way, if you would castigate Sheehy, you must similarly castigate them; and if you won’t castigate them, then leave the priest alone and shut up. It is not open season on priests. Interestingly, though Sheehy’s bishop abandoned him, there wasn’t one word of dissent from Aosdána or the Irish Writers’ Union when the representatives of the literary world stood up for the writer in court. Come to that, did the Rape Crisis Centre utter a word?
So why don’t we all boycott Italy, then? I read today that local Italians are sending gifts and presents to the convicted murderer Amanda Knox who is jailed for the murder of British student, Meredith Kercher. Right, then: a demo outside the Italian Embassy/Consulate? What do you mean, Why? You attacked Fr Sheehy, you can do it to Italy! I do hate to watch the media become a rabble!

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WorldbyStorm - December 21, 2009

Erm… who is recommending boycotting anyone?

As for hounding Sheehy, I don’t think it’s wrong to point out his behaviour was — gormless. And I’ve already agreed in conversation with Eagle above that other representatives of the Church acted in a way which was vastly better and supportive.

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14. Niall - December 21, 2009

Fred, are you referring to the Desmond Hogan case? Who offered a character reference? It may me sad to hear about that particular case. I was/am a fan of his work.

The priest in this case seems like an utter gobshite. There’s something of a contradiction to be found in the fact that the priest was singled out for attention and the fact that some of those who give the priest that attention would normally argue that clergy should be treated exactly the same as anybody else.

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15. Dr. X - December 21, 2009

’twas Colm Toibín:

‘A leading agency that works with victims of sexual abuse has criticised the “leniency” of the sentencing of a prominent Irish writer and questioned the influence novelist Colm Tóibín’s character reference had on the case.

Last week, writer Des­mond Hogan was given a two-year suspended jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.’

http://www.tribune.ie/article/2009/oct/11/writers-reference-a-deterrent-to-abused-children-c/

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16. T - December 21, 2009

Some of the comments from the now removed Facebook page in support of Foley are here….
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e140/dyflin/facebook.jpg
(I got this link off boards.ie)

I would argue that this case does show something of social attitudes to sexual violence in Listowel (and Ireland) today in that irrespective of the our buddy couldn’t have done that attitude (which in itself shows a willful blindness to the evidence – including witnesses) none of these cretins managed to think of the likely impact of their actions on other victims of sexual violence many of whom do not prosecute for fear of this sort of scenario, again this is especially true when one considers the relative weight of evidence in this case what is someone who does not have that likely to think.

Likewise one would suspect that most of these folk have the mentality sexual violence equals stranger rape down dark alleys.

AFAIK Colm Tobin did not speak out in the media to insult a victim of sexual violence (Sheehy’s dismissive she didn’t look traumatised claim), argue that the sentencing was too stringent, or claim that someone who had just been convicted of sexual assault was always respectful to women, all in the media, all above and beyond the character reference.

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17. Fred Johnston - December 22, 2009

I am stating that (a) anyone of us can be called upon to give a character reference, and (b) who can castigate us for doing so? If one of us is wrong to do so, then all of us are. Consider this: a priest visiting a prison as a pastor – should he consider the crimes of every man he visits before deciding whether he’ll speak to him? No one is disputing the seriousness of the crime at Listowel. But I do think it odd that people seem fixated on what Sean Sheehy did, as if it were somehow necessary to make him the collective conscience of Listowel; and odd that we are being edged towards a point where to offer any consolation to a person on his or her way (possibly) to jail cannot be shown a touch of human warmth. There is something deeply puritanical and sinister, may I say so, about such an attitude. Odd too that when I spoke recently to a woman I knew who would claim to be an old-style feminist, she couldn’t even remember the Hogan case. Hence my belief that Sheehy was considered somewhat of any easy target.

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18. WorldbyStorm - December 22, 2009

I think that a character reference, or a job reference, the latter of which is something I’ve had to do myself on many occassions is something one thinks very long and hard about because they reflect on ones own judgement and one has a – yes, that word again – responsibility to stand over it. There’s a distinct difference between that sort of activism and being a prison pastor. As for the warmth to a person on their way to prison, I have no problem with private expressions, etc… but the inappropriateness of a public forum where the victim is sitting… desperate. And again, who is obsessing about Sheehy. I think the other x number are as much in the picture, he though is sui generis in that as a priest he is supposedly ‘representative’ of a community to some degree or another.

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19. sonofstan - December 22, 2009

@Niall.

There was not sex in the more traditional sense of the word.

The Clinton defence…

You’re still not getting it. How could they have ‘believed him to be innocent?’ after the evidence presented? see my first para above. I contend that they knew full well what he did, they just didn’t consider it a crime for reasons i and others have suggested.

Second: it was 50 odd people: if a close family member – parent, child – committed a crime, even one or two of my closer friends, then yes, I stand by them – but this was not the case here. 50 people went from Listowel to Tralee to perform this gesture specifically in public in the courtroom as a political action – it wasn’t motivated by feeling of unavoidable family solidarity.

You appear afraid to accept what this says about our society: no woman i have spoken to -and particularly ones who grew up in the country -has been in any doubt as to the likely course of events.

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Niall - December 23, 2009

Your first paragraph above isn’t descriptive. You speculate about his motivation and state it as fact. How could they have believed him to be innocent? Have you heard his defense? What exactly was his version of events? I know I haven’t heard it in full, but he doesn’t seem to be denying that he moved her (certainly not when the footage emerged), just, whether the sex was consensual or not.

And I have no idea where you get the idea that their action was political. The man seems to have known all of these individuals on a personal level. I doubt their feelings were somehow unavoidable, but there is no evidence whatsoever that these people believed the man to be guilty. You’re speculating. Your argument amounts to a profession from personal incredulity. Certainly, those few who have spoken on the airwaves have claimed that they believe the man to be innocent. Under those circumstances, and given that public professions of a belief that sexual assault is okay are particularly rare, I find any claim that the 50 people who publically supported the man were motivated by a political or personal belief that rape and sexual assault are okay to be pretty groundless.

And as for people’s belief in the likely course of events, what you don’t seem to appreciate is that I’m not claiming that he was innocent. What I’m saying is that there is no real evidence to suggest that the men and women who shook the man’s hand were motivated by misogyny and that the evidence indicating that they were motivated by a belief in the man’s innocence is much stronger. Under those circumstances, it’s unfortunate that these 50 people are used as an example by those arguing that Irish people believe sexual assault to be some sort of lesser crime.

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sonofstan - December 23, 2009

He dragged/ carried her half-naked and semi-conscious body and dumped it by a skip where he thought she would be concealed:

That was the para I was referring to. All of the actions came out in the trial: the implication of motive ‘thought it would be concealed’ is mine. Hardly all speculative though.

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WorldbyStorm - December 23, 2009

I think you raise some fair points as it happens. But… I wonder though if the response while not motivated by misogyny is informed or inflected by its dynamic… in other words they don’t hate women, but they find a belief pattern that allows them to more easily dismiss/ignore this woman. As you say that’s familial, or neighbourly, or whatever, but it’s also about certain ideas about how women should behave, etc, etc.

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Niall - December 23, 2009

WBS, I don’t doubt that Irish society has certain unhealthy ideas about how women, and indeed men, should behave. Our beliefs about how both genders should behave and react play an important part in any interpretation we make of events. (If anybody doubts that gender plays a role in our interpretation of such events, just imagine that the roles in the above case were reversed or if both parties were of the same gender.)

I just don’t see any evidence that this dynamic made a particularly powerful impact on this trial. Of the various social dynamics that may have had an impact on the trial and the events around it, misogyny is one for which we have the least evidence, but the one which most editorials and letters seem to focus on.

The events of the trial were unusual. Yet, we have no explanation for why Listowel might be more influenced by misogyny than any other town of a similar size where large scale public displays of support do not occur. The factors that mark this trial as unique seem to be the esteem in which the accussed was held by many in his community, and, if what those closer to the ground seem to be saying is true, the social background of the victim.

What’s become interesting for me is not so much the narratives the natives of Listowel have adopted for the events so much as the narratives the chattering classes reach for when interpreting such reactions. These narratives often tend to be the American imports that were particularly popular on university campuses during the 80s, when a large portion of the chatterers attended third level. The evidence that sexism or personal beliefs about rape, violence or gender played a particular role in this trial cannot be found, yet, the assumption is made and goes unchallenged.

The alien rural setting (how many of our talking heads have ever lived outside the Pale during the last 20 years?) helps because in the minds of the commentator, travelling to a rural town is the same thing as travelling back to a more primative time where barbaric discourses still prosper and life is still ruled by angry priests, doctors and cane-wielding teachers. It’s a fantasy land where they can happily regurgitate the arguments that won the battles of their youth.

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little, but still . . .

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20. T - December 22, 2009

@ Niall
T, if a family member of mine were accussed of rape or sexual assault and I belived them to be innocent then I would not hesitate to stand by them in court, regardless of what a jury found. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t give a flying fuck what impact that action would have on victims of rape.

Yeah, but would you, not as a family member but as a mate of the accused –

(a) Refuse the accuser service in commerical premises.

(b) Issue public threats of violence towards the accuser.

(c) Insult her in the national media (and better yet after conviction).

(aside from the point sonofstan makes that the public display by fifty people was a bit more than support from family members)

All of the above has been done by Foley supporters, moreover the Times report on Listowel could hardly find one person in the town which was other than in support of Foley. This in a case which unlike the vast majority of cases of sexual violence was reported, went to court and there was a conviction, a conviction based on pretty strong evidence relative to most sexual violence – ie Garda witnesses.

There is a massive ammount of sexual violence in this country, much of which goes unreported in part because victims think they will be blamed, not believed and so on. Foley’s supporters, or at least some of them, and Foley’s supporters seems to include a good portion of the populace of the area, are helping to perpetuate and indeed deepen this problem. This represents a profound level of ignorance about sexual violence, irrespective of what one thinks about this individual case. In other words with a little sense someone who wanted to support Foley would write him a letter or help fund his appeal case not launch a witchhunt against the accuser out of awareness of the likely impact on victims, that is address the issue with some sensitivity. The public campaign is at best dim witted.

Secondly, whatever about the support of the guy’s ma, brother and significant other, we are talking about seemingly most of the town making its mind up about the case without reference to the actual evidence of the case based on Dan Foley being a nice guy. Unless that is we think that is they are all more familiar with it than the jury who convicted, despite the difficulty of getting convictions in sexual violence cases. This is the town where the victim lives, these people are ignorant, will anyone else in Listowel ever come forward to prosecute in a sexual violence case now other than stranger rape?

@ Fred. As I point out above Sheehy did a lot more than give a character reference.

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Niall - December 23, 2009

What would I do? What does it matter what I would do. Clearly I’m superior to the peasants of Kerry. Under most circumstances, the answer is no to the above questions.

While I have no doubt that Foley’s supporters have made life much more difficult for victims of sexual violence (especially those in Kerry), personally, I think that parts of the public campagin have been dim-witted, but publically supporting him, in itself, is not inappropriate if you believe him to be innocent.

Even within the ‘campaign’, those who have threatened the girl, refused her service etc seem to be a minority. Certainly, when the convict’s brother spoke on Newstalk, he told people not to do these things. He praised the Kerry Rape Crisis centre and asked people to donate to them.

Let’s take a very different scenario. Fr. Shay Cullen of Preda was accussed of child molestation, an accusation that many believed to be an attempt by those pimps of child sex slaves to discredit him and the organisation he runs. Now the international campaign of support for Fr. Cullen may have discouraged some Filipino victims of priestly abuse to go to trial, but does that mean that people should not have stood by Fr. Cullen when they believed him to be innocent?

When it comes to the law, I tend to fall toward the belief that fiat justitia ruat caelum.

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21. Fred Johnston - December 22, 2009

“@ Fred. As I point out above Sheehy did a lot more than give a character reference.”

There is evidence for this? You have a quotable source? I would put it to you that Fr Sheehy’s engagement with the case is taking on quite mythical, Chinese Whispers proportions. There seems – still – to be this circling around Sean Sheehy; and as I point out myself above, there was none in the Hogan case re: those who gave him, as they are entitled to do, a background reference in court. And this bothers me. One newspaper report (The Sunday Tribune) mentioned the Hogan case and those who offered the reference. But in this case we have a veritable witch-hunt against Sheehy which, I would remind you, cost him his parish. I hope his bishop has a merry Christmas knowing he had lambasted a priest for being a Christian. Unless you are prepared to take on the cultural world also, leave Sheehy alone.

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T - December 22, 2009

Fred the evidence I have for this assertion is a little more than chinese whispers – quite a bit more – specifically Sheehy appeared in the national media and did the following…

(a) Insulted the victim – namely she didn’t look too traumatised to me.

(b) Casted doubt on the conviction.

(c) Complained about the apparent stringency of the sentence.

Some of this is on the TV3 news broadcast – a bit more than a chinese whisper – here –

….that is to say Sheehy doing quite a bit more than giving a character reference in court and doing it on national television!

Sheehy came to attention in this case as part of the public display of support for Foley in the court after he was convicted and before he was sentenced.

This has been extensivly covered in the national media over the last few days.

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T - December 22, 2009

Sheehy is from about 1.44 in the youtube clip above.

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22. Patrick Ryan - December 22, 2009

I prosecuted a number of these cases in another Jurisdiction with only a 50% success rate. The miracle here was that two outstanding police officers happened on the scene and took meticulous notes and observations and suspected something gruesome and devilish had taken place. I hope they will be up there with the very best when this story is finally written.The most lonesome place on the planet sometimes is to prosecute some of these cases;You feel alone with a shivering,terrified victim and you are forbidden to talk to her in case you are accused of briefing her-while the defence counsel and his ample entourage engage in supportive conversation with the accused .The whole atmosphere is devoted to the rights and comfort of the accused-to them the “Victim” is just another nuisance.In the current case the local farming community could not accept that one of their own could be brought down by a little girl from “one of the estates”In the old days she could be bought off by sending a priest to her parents;This girl should be accorded “Irish Person of The Year” in the years honours.

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23. EamonnCork - December 22, 2009

T,
The involvement of Scanlon seems to me far less important, (we know enough at this stage not to expect anything but moral obtuseness from members of the clergy in sexual matters), than the indifference of the community at large to the plight of the victim.
Fred,
Your main interest in the case seems to be as a club to beat Hogan and by definition his fellow members of Aosdana with. That’s your right but I don’t see how it follows that people are in some way hypocritical when they criticise Listowel without including Ballybunion in the same argument. (A lot of people would have missed that case for one thing. You wouldn’t because you used to be published by the same company as Hogan and I wouldn’t because I read his books when I was younger but I don’t think it had the same high profile). And, before you say anything, I’m no more a member of the inner artistic sanctum than you are and amn’t in the habit of defending them. You probably know them better than I do. By the way, I greatly admire the work you’re doing in Galway.

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24. Fred Johnston - December 22, 2009

“Your main interest in the case seems to be as a club to beat Hogan and by definition his fellow members of Aosdana with.” I would strongly suggest that you withdraw that statement. I don’t know you but let me say this: I was NEVER published by any ‘company’ that published Desmond Hogan and he is NOT a member of Aosdána. Have the courage to reveal your true name and identity if you want to make that sort of statement, or shut up. And listen to that YouTube statement by Sean Sheehy again – listen, all of you, without preconceptions. My concern is simple, and how often must I repeat it? If you want to attack Sheehy, then attack also the cultural faction that gave reference for Hogan: in both cases you are morally wrong, but you cannot do one without doing the other. Sheehy was asked by the family of the accused to stand reference for him. He did his duty as a priest. He lost his parish because of it. Does that make you happier, mroe smug, more self-righteous? Now take back that nasty and objectionable rubbish about me and my motives.

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Jimmy McNulty - December 22, 2009

Off the high-horse please Fred- you are shifting the goalposts here.

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Ramzi Nohra - December 22, 2009

I take it you missed the bit where he said he admired your work in galway?

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EamonnCork - December 22, 2009

Fred,
My name is Eamonnn Sweeney, it is also my identity. Any regular poster on the CLR knows this as I’ve identified myself before. I thought you knew this but then again why would you, you’ve only come on here as a single issue poster.
Desmond Hogan’s first novel was published by the Irish Writers Co-op, of which you were one of the founder members. Your fit of false indignation would lead someone to believe that there was no connection there at all. I meant to say a club to beat TOIBIN and his fellow members of Aosdana with, I think it’s a fair inference to draw.
I still think you’re doing good work in Galway by the way but you seem to be a tremendously cantankerous old soul which may be why that work is sometimes overlooked. I will ignore the implied threat in your response because that’s the kindest thing to do. And you’d look pretty well in a pointy hat and long white robe yourself, kind of like Gandalf. And now for God’s sake will you just simmer down, I have no interest in having a row with you and telling people to shut up is no way to argue.

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WorldbyStorm - December 22, 2009

Hard to argue with that.

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25. Jimmy McNulty - December 22, 2009

Any suggestion Niall why the majority of women who are sexually assualted don’t even bother making a complaint? Perhaps because sometimes it’s ‘only oral sex’?
Whatever your opinion about An Garda, they are not shrinking violets and they see a lot of bad shit in their daily business. Seeing all sorts of drunken goings on near pubs and nightclubs is par for the course. On this occasion they obviously thought something was up – something other than consensual, if drunken sex. If Foley was a local bad boy, with a string of convictions and a rep for rowing with the Guards you might smell a fit-up. But by all accounts he is a shining light down there so why would the law want to do him? The cops saw something bad was happening and fair play to them stopped it and pursued the case. If they hadn’t been there I suspect the victim would not have had the confidence to report this and Foley would still Mr. Wonderful.

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Niall - December 23, 2009

Almost missed you Jimmy. Who said anything about it being ‘only oral sex’? The fact that it was oral sex is relevant for handful of reasons (least of all because if it had been something else, we would have been looking at a different charge & the existence of other forms of forensic evidence would have been a possibility) but quite frankly, it’s not something I want to discuss right now. I’m trying to get into the Xmas cheer mood and the details of a case of sexual assault charge don’t help.

If you’re wondering why I raised the fact that it was oral sex that occurred, it was in response to Tim’s comment regarding rape, though I didn’t actually finish that paragraph before posting, so it’s my own fault if you came to an incorrect conclusion.

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26. John Green - December 22, 2009

The criticism of Sheehy that I heard from a representative of the Kerry Rape Crisis Centre on Newstalk was not for giving the character reference but for joining the throng that shook hands with Foley prior to sentencing and in front of the victim. Regardless of whether or nor he knew Foley, in his role as a priest he should at the very least have been more circumspect about what his actions convey about the Church and where its sympathies lie.

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27. Fred Johnston - December 22, 2009

That’s it, folks. I’m out of this argument. It’s a no-win: clearly there can be only one viewpoint tolerated, and that is that Fr Sheehy was wrong. Anybody fancy sewing up a pointy white hat and a long white robe? I have false remarks made about myself and my motives and I am described as being on a ‘high-horse’ and even of ‘shifting goalposts’ which have been shifted already by another contributor. I know and detest this sort of cackling. No one takes up my central point, no one wishes to talk about those who gave character references in the Hogan case, chiefly, I suspect, because it’s get-the-priest time and anything else isn’t cool. I refer you to some salient points in today’s Irish Independent in the Kevin Myers column. John Green has Sheehy ‘joining a throng’ as if this were a mediaeval riot. I’m sticking to my guns, so hale and farewell: if you condemn Sheehy you must also condemn those who supported Hogan, though in reality you have no right to condemn either. If you will not condemn one, then you should have the moral grace to shut up about the other. Slán.

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ejh - December 22, 2009

Anybody fancy sewing up a pointy white hat and a long white robe?

Oh do act your age.

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28. WorldbyStorm - December 22, 2009

Fred, in all honesty if you look back through the comments before your interjection at 13, which was if I count correctly at the end of 30 odd comments and unnumbered subcomments, there had been four mentions of Sheedy.

You’re the person who brings in the concept of him being ‘attacked’. Indeed on this thread you’re the person who perpetuates it given that the general consensus is that this isn’t about religion it’s about class.

Frankly I stand over calling him gormless and his actions reprehensible. You can choose to call that an attack, I think it’s fair comment. It’s also not, and I was careful to point this out in the OP, an attack on the Church, and I’ve already noted that in discussion with Eagle I acknowledged the Church had more broadly been fine. I think it’s spurious to argue then that it’s get the priest time.

As for your Hogan comparison, I’m not aware of the details of that case, but have already noted that I treat character or job references as gold-dust…

As for condemning, I condemn neither in that sense, I merely point out that in the instance I’m aware of that the individual acted gormlessly, an act that was exacerbated by his standing in the community etc, etc.

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29. blackwatertown - December 22, 2009

Perhaps the Listowel Writers Week will dedicate itself to raising money for the local Rape Crisis Centre. Thank goodness it exists.

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30. Highr0ller - December 22, 2009

All over Ireland less than 10% of rapists are convicted. Ireland has one of the lowest conviction rates in the world.

The CCTV camera was the witness plus vigilant gardai, etc.
There is talk in Listowel that it would not be PC to point out. here so
I am keeping an open mind. The case will be appealed and more information might come into the public domain soon.

Meanwhile its a small friendly town that opens its doors to writers and artists and full of wonderful people.

Don’t lose the plot. There is the occasional murder or occasional rape…………..but the figures are far lower than other places like Listowel.
Let justice be done………….and if there is a case to appeal, then so be it. Justice and truth will win.

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31. Cl - December 23, 2009

EamonnCork: to change the subject (or maybe not). I know you have an interest in the camanaiocht so I was just wondering if you have read Donal Og Cusack’s book?

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32. Cl - December 23, 2009

John B. Keane wrote a great book called the Bodhran Makers about the conflict between traditional pagan Kerry people and and the alternative tradition represented by the Catholic church. When we use the word “traditional’ perhaps we should make clear what tradition we are referring to.

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33. CL - December 23, 2009

Voice of the abused:
“So where are the marches, where are the pickets outside churches, where are the cries to declare an organisation that individually and collectively abused children, and has demonstrated incompetence in governance – where are the cries to declare this unlawful?”
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/1223/1224261159504.html

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34. sonofstan - December 23, 2009

@Niall,

I guess we’re going around in circles here, but as a last attempt:

And I have no idea where you get the idea that their action was political.

In the sense of doing this to make a point to those attending, not simply as an expression of personal feeling – although that’s how they may have wanted it to look

The man seems to have known all of these individuals on a personal level. I doubt their feelings were somehow unavoidable, but there is no evidence whatsoever that these people believed the man to be guilty.

Again, I doubt if they think he was innocent in the sense that nothing happened or he wasn’t there or whatever: it’s clear enough that a sexual encounter of some kind took place and that Foley at the very least mistreated the woman involved after whatever act took place. I just don’t think that those who shook his hand in the courtroom felt that any of this was particularly culpable.

You’re speculating. Your argument amounts to a profession from personal incredulity. Certainly, those few who have spoken on the airwaves have claimed that they believe the man to be innocent.

Well, they would say that wouldn’t they? his supporters are hardly going to admit his guilt over the airwaves.

Under those circumstances, and given that public professions of a belief that sexual assault is okay are particularly rare, I find any claim that the 50 people who publically supported the man were motivated by a political or personal belief that rape and sexual assault are okay to be pretty groundless.

Public expressions of naked racism are also pretty rare these days, but you don’t have to hang around the canteen in any workplace for long to be disabused of the notion that such feelings are a thing of the past. My point is that people are hardly going to say in public that they find this kind of action acceptable, since such thoughts are not expressible. My view is that many people, as WBS says, are inclined not to believe women in such cases because of a deep and often inchoate misogyny in our culture – and thus the story that she concocted the notion of an assault in order to placate her boyfriend quickly gains currency. So, while people may not think rape or sexual assault are ‘ok’, they are inclined to discount reports of same as motivated by less than convincing motives, unless the victim is a blameless teenage virgin, who happens to be a pioneer, from a good family, and who doesn’t know her attacker (and it would help if the attacker is a foreign national).

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Tim - December 23, 2009

very well said.

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35. Niall - December 23, 2009

SoS, just to acknowledge that I’ve read this. Since you’ve said it’s your last attempt I’ll not ask any questions, but I’ll just point out that the arguments you support while plausable, lack any sort of evidence to back them up. You’re assuming the worst about these people and explaining the lack of evidence to support the assumption by saying that they’re deliberately hiding their beliefs while in public. Again, your explanation and interpretation might be true, but you make more assumptions than are required to explain those publically observed events. The simpler explanation is always the best one, and usually the true one.

The comparison to racism is informative. Most of us will come into contact with casual racism frequently, be it in the back of tax cab, or in a canteen, but I’ve never met anybody who has claimed that rape or sexual assault were not serious or that any woman was asking for it or deserved it. Racist comments, I probably encounter on a weekly basis and I have no reason to believe that my experience is somehow atypical.

Under circumstances where racist comment is common in public, one can perhaps make a case that it impacts on public reaction to a trial (e.g. the Nally case) but if indiffierent attitudes to rape and sexual assault are so socially unacceptable that people only secretly express them in the privacy of their own homes or heads, then it’s hard to see how they’d play a powerful role in the case we’re discussing with regard to the relatively large public display of support for the convict. And even if it were the case, that leaves a large question regarding why such displays are not more common and what was different about this trial.

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sonofstan - December 23, 2009

Ok, Just to acknowledge your acknowledgment.

As i said we’re not going to agree on this, and I reckon we’ve exhausted the available arguments: FWIW, I recognise that it’s not as cut and dried as i perhaps originally presented it, and your version has a measure of plausability.

And short of subjecting everyone in that court room to intensive psychological testing, neither of us will be able to ‘prove’ what people thought. Anyway, it’s been a civilised exchange, given the emotiveness of the issue, so thanks for that.

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36. T - December 23, 2009

The Listowel area actually has form for this –

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/FURY+OF+RAPE+VICTIM+AFTER+PRIEST+BACKS+HER+ATTACKER;+Canon%27s+verdict…-a061103960

– that happened about 9 km up the road from Listowel and the victim involved was only the second to go public after sexual violence in Ireland in recent times (Lavinia Kerwick being famously the first).

Niall the reason this doesn’t happen more often is because most – the vast majority – of sexual violence never gets reported, never gets to court, and there is no conviction.
This is because of lack of evidence, people blaming themselves, people fearing that others will take sides against them and because of the massive trauma associated with sexual violence.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_and_aftermath_of_rape#Secondary_victimization

The sad thing is there would probably be more Listowels if there were more convictions in acquaintance rape/date rape cases in small towns in Ireland (and sometimes elsewhere – see for instance the Polanski case).

People want to lynch in tabloid style ‘sex beast’ stranger rape cases but attitudes are different when it is acquaintance rape and it involves a fine up-standing member of the community as the perpretrator.

I actually agree with you to some extent re: the elitist chattering classes, their sometimes bizarre feminist discourse and the narrative of rural (and/or Irish) backwardness – in fact the papers had also over the last few days news reports on a broadly similar case of popular victimisation of a sexual violence survivor in the urban U.S.. However at least that discourse takes the bald fact of the traumatic nature and pervasive extent of sexual violence as a given.

I’m not sure if trying to understand this situation in terms of misogyny is useful. For one there seems far too many women involved and some of them seem to be the sort that probably binge drink and wear mini skirts, indeed I’m not exactly sure for what period the statistic is for but for some time in this decade the record of convictions and gender balance in juries in sexual violence trials tells us that no 100% female jury convicted.
It is more I think like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_phenomenon and also who is in the ‘in group’.

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37. dmfod - December 23, 2009

the fact that women convict less often than men doesn’t prove a lack of misogyny but the opposite – a deeply internalised misogyny similar to internalised racism of people kept as slaves thinking they are stupid or uneducatable.

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38. Fred Johnston - January 1, 2010

Now that we’re in a New Year, I still must confess my puzzlement at how so much media time and speculation has been offered to this case and so little to a particular previous case as mentioned and identified above. It seems to me that the central issue is perhaps a tad more subtle than we imagine: in Listowel, fifty ordinary citizens and a priest offered support in one way or other (whether we agree with them or not is irrelevant here) and they have been described as a mob and shame must be heaped on the town of Listowel and other witch-hunt-like pronouncements have been made; in the previous case, a different caste of citizens was involved, namely intellectuals, artists, and we believe them to be in some way separate from ordinary judgements (if we presume to deliver any) of society. Indeed, many artists believe themselves separate and unique from ordinary society. Following an RTE documentary and subsequent – and very different – allegations made against a writer (I emphasis ‘allegations’ and nothing more) the airwaves were jammed with artists declaring just this very notion: we are different, you cannot apply the same rules to us nor judge us in the same context as ordinary mortals. This gibberish issued from otherwise sane and intelligent people. But non-artists too buy into it. Far easier to criticise the ‘mob’ in Listowel and (naturally) a priest and force him out of his job, than take on the arts’ world in a not-dissimilar context. As can be seen above, my argument was immediately relegated to the personal and I was accused of wanting to attack Aosdána and so forth – the sort of argument I was advised I might expect. Now I have said before that anyone, everyone, is entitled to give testimony on the accused’s behalf in a court and most people do it simply out of friendship or out of compassion and whether we agree with their views is not an issue. But to criticise one group of people for doing this and not another begs a number of questions. Questions we need to ask ourselves.

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WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2010

Fred, questions we need to ask ourselves might include why someone would implicitly diminish the import of one against the other by constantly referring to the other when the one was most recent, was mostly widely publicised, etc. And with all due respect none of us are omnipotent. I don’t follow, and I’m sure most of us don’t either, every single news story that appears. There’s one of me, I have x amount of time divided by y and z commitments etc.

I don’t give a rashers about artists, in fact to be honest I’m not much of a fan of the arts ‘world’ having more than enough exposure to it over the years, but then I’m not dragging my hobbyhorse, which is something you’ve continually done from the off on this thread, into the equation. Perhaps given that it is a new year you might choose to give it a rest, as everyone else has done on this thread.

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39. Fred Johnston - January 1, 2010

I can’t translate your opening statement, I’m afraid. And if you are not following the cases upon which you wish to comment, then you shouldn’t comment. What exactly is my ‘hobbyhorse’? I would like to know, so don’t be shy. Your statement is the sort of vague personalisation that one comes to expect – as it is, you excellently prove my point as made above.

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WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2010

Given that I’ve commented on Listowel I think the meaning of my point should be clear enough. I can’t comment on all cases, and nor would I. Nor indeed would anyone, and whataboutthisery is a pointless approach in my opinion. In such instances it’s best to deal with each issue/example in its own context unless there’s a pressing case to do otherwise. I think the Listowel case was sufficiently sui generis to allow for that.

Your hobbyhorse from the off, as I stated above, was to present the idea that Fr. Sheedy was attacked disproportionately above. I wasn’t shy in No. 28 in articulating how I believed you were incorrect in that point and were indeed exaggerating the emphasis on him and I’m not shy now. As for personalisation, if calling for you to give it a rest now, particularly given that in your own statement of No. 27 you stated you were ‘out of here’… then guilty as charged.

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40. Fred Johnston - January 1, 2010

Yes, and perhaps I should have stayed out of it as I said I would, that’s true, for certainly no one intends to veer away from the ‘condemnation-of-the-mob-led-by-a-priest’ attitude, nor approach the question that raises when a similar case with a very different reaction is produced. It is hard to exaggerate the emphasis on Sheedy when he lost his job for his views. I should have thought that alone might have given his critics pause. But it appears not to have done. As someone who lost a job also for expressing (in print) a point of view with which others disagreed, it could be argued that I am somewhat sensitive about that sort of thing. I’ll say it again: Sheehy was an easy target. It is a disgrace that his bishop distanced himself from his priest. It is a disgrace that Sheehy lost his parish because he showed compassion for the accused; while no one said a word when members of the arts’ community did similar. I am in favour of people speaking up in support of the accused in court even if I consider that they were ill-advised and hold an opinion which varies with theirs: it is the glaring disparity in reaction here that I find hard to accept.

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41. WorldbyStorm - January 1, 2010

I think to suggest that he ‘lost his job’ is once more looking at this in far too heightened a fashion. He’s a retired US priest who was substituting for the parish priest. Withdrawing from the substitution is not akin to ‘losing his job’. His job is priest. His role in that job was substituting.

The central point here in relation to Sheehy (if we’re still discussing him as distinct from the others whose actions on that day were open to profound criticism), is the effect his actions and then his subsequent words, most notably the point about ‘the victim didn’t seem to him to be traumatised or particularly nervous’, have had on a victim of a rape. And that has absolutely nothing to do with any other cases you care to mention.

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42. Fred Johnston - January 2, 2010

For further reading on character reference and reaction to it you may find it of interest to read:

The Sunday Tribune: article by Ali Bracken – October 11, 2009
The Irish Independent: article by Ian O’Doherty – October 8th 2009
The Irish Times: article by Anne Lucey (‘utmost probity’ testimony) – July 12 2008
Boards.ie: article/comment by ‘Jackcee’ – December 17th 2009

You may reconsider your remarks on Sheehy’s comment or at least re-weigh your own comment upon him as given above.

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43. Remi Moses - January 2, 2010

Shite said Fred.

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