Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Arrest of Wikileaks’ main man raises hard questions

Published

on

Date Published: {J}

Some people dismiss the allegations against Julian Assange as trivial. I find that hard to tolerate – any act of making someone do something sexual that they didn’t want to do is not trivial. The idea that he is wanted over a broken condom exists only in the minds of commentators who have lost themselves in rhetoric.

On the other hand, we should be clear that he has not been charged with rape. He has not been charged, in fact, with anything. He was wanted for questioning. There is some confusion about what this is in relation to, but this is for a good reason: Swedish law is not as forthcoming as ours about the details of sexual crime allegations.

This has led to unfortunate speculation, but it is pretty clear that the allegations do not amount to rape in Swedish law. Then again, it seems that rape in Swedish law is defined exclusively as sexual assault with violence. If rumours are to be believed –and I should emphasise the ‘if’ – the main allegation concerns him continuing to have sex even though he knew a condom had broken.

To my mind, yes, that is morally a form of rape. A lesser form perhaps, not quite up there with sex obtained by threats or by drugging someone or taking advantage of their being too drunk to know what they are doing, but still a form of making someone do something sexually that they didn’t want to do.

Whether it is something you could conceivably get a criminal conviction for is another question. So it’s true that some circumstances of this investigation look peculiar. But if the Swedish authorities really are pursuing him with an unusual level of diligence, one can hope this is because it’s unusual to have such allegations made against someone so in the public eye. Perhaps they have some other charge it is possible to apply.

Not anything too serious, for preference. Firstly on general principles of course – one hopes nothing too bad actually happened. But also because Assange is running a pretty important organisation, and while Wikileaks may be able to get by without him in the short term it does presumably benefit from his leadership.

Whatever you think of some of the decisions they have taken about what to release to the media, it does nothing illegal itself. If anyone is committing any crime – and again, that is another very big if and another difficult moral question – it is the insiders who leaked the material. Oh, and any American who reads it even after it’s been published. Somewhat ludicrously, that is illegal under US law. So the Airforce has blocked its personnel from accessing the websites of The Guardian, students have been warned that reading the cables could damage their careers. It seems to me that if Wikileaks is bringing about this sort of imbecilic institutional reaction, it is definitely doing something right.

But as I say, I hope Assange is guilty of something. Why? Because the alternative – that sexual crime charges have been falsified against him in order to suppress a threat to US interests – would mean that what’s left of Western civilisation would not be worth pissing on if it were on fire.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Published

on

A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

Published

on

Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

images/files/images/x3_Courthouse.jpg

Continue Reading

Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

Published

on

Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending