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Prime Time highlights another State failure



Date Published: 01-Jun-2010

THE HSE Assistant National Director for Children Phil Garland gave stock answers, the Minister for Children Barry Andrews gave banal answers, but Miriam O’Callaghan’s determined questioning during Tuesday’s Prime Time programme about the murder of 17-year-old Daniel McAnaspie, gave them no place to hide.

It was impossible to watch this heart-breaking and incisive programme without feeling a growing sense of anger that the State has served its most vulnerable children so badly. And you’ve guessed it – yet again – nobody seems to be responsible for massive failures of duty.

Keelin Shanley – one of RTÉ’s finest journalists – had gained access to the young man’s personal files and also spoke to his aunts and sister to paint a picture of a family who loved this misfortunate young man and who were doing their best for him, but without any real back up from the State that was supposed to be protecting him.

Daniel’s father died when he was six, his mother was an alcoholic, and the entire family was taken into care.

Slowly, they were split up, until their mother had only restricted access to them and eventually, the siblings were separated from each other. Daniel was sent from home to home, never fitting in, massively undereducated and suffering from dyslexia.

At various times, his aunts took him in – with HSE approval, but without support. He had been attending a special school at one of the homes, but when he moved in with his aunt Sabrina, he was told that facility was no longer available to him. So the young teenager had no education – until a tutor was found for him eventually, before he too was taken away. A tutor on a FÁS course he attended was also removed.

His social workers did their best, pointing out the assistance he needed, but nothing was done. A care programme was eventually made out for him, but he had died before the HSE approved its funding. Yet, all Phil Garland from the HSE could offer was sympathy and the line “I can’t talk about individual cases”. Barry Andrews was like a mumbling puppet – what a disappointment he’s turned out to be.

Fine Gael Justice spokesman Alan Shatter pointed out that “kids who are troubled are expected to fit into the system rather than the system addressing their needs”. The responsibility for child protection should be taken away from the HSE, he said logically.

It was an excellent and a depressing report, where social workers said they were just “fire-fighting” and where the Minister promised 200 more social workers would come on stream, despite cutbacks. Still nobody took responsibility for this young man’s tragic life and death, and the deaths of so many others in State care.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

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



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.

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