Irish Writers in Support of Jobstown Not Guilty

In an era where white collar criminals who steal millions and destroy the economy meet gardai by appointment with their team of solicitors, a 16 year old had 10 gardai bang on his door and arrest him before school over a protest at which nobody was even injured. There is no longer a single accountant in this state dedicated to tackling crime in the banking and financial services sectors, yet 20 gardai were assigned to collect evidence against people from one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country for engaging in the type of protest that Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many senior members of the Labour Party employed in the past. This is an unprecedented attack on the right to protest. Civil disobedience is our last line of defence against being further defrauded by this corrupt state. If civil disobedience is criminalised the average citizen have no protection against whatever the state wants to do to them. These people are facing an attack from the full force of the state, we all need to support them as they courageously resist this sinister development, because they are doing this on behalf of every citizen.

Frankie Gaffney

Éire 2016

Bhí dream ann a rinne dia beag den ampla
‘s a chreid sa Tíogar Cheilteach mhiotasach,
a thóg na heastáit thréigthe ar fud na tíre,
‘s a bhain na bonnaí as nuair a tháinig an crais.

Tá na heastáit fágtha inniu mar iarsmaí
‘s na súmairí á nochtadh achan lá,
na mílte daoine ar leacacha na sráide
‘s ní chaomhnaíonn an stát a clanna uilig go cothrom.

Éire 2016

There were those who worshipped mammon,
and believed in the mythological Celtic Tiger.
They built ghost estates thoughout the land
and disappeared when the crash happened.

The estates are now left in ruins,
Swallow holes appearing every day.
Thousands are sleeping on the streets
and the children are not all cherished equally.

Both by Máire Dinny Wren

I support and stand with Jobstown Not Guilty, because I fully believe in the right of the citizen to oppose the state through civil disobedience, we must be always be able to use protest as a means to let our governments know when we want change, when we are against unjust laws or charges or decisions taken by government which we see to be made not for the good of the citizens or only made for the good of the few against the many. As in the case of the water charges. Water is life, literally. Those who wish to control and own OUR water, seek to control and own life, OUR life. The statement being made by the ruling class is don’t fuck with us, don’t oppose us or you will be punished by us. Is this a government or a Mafia? But we are winning the right to water, and when we do, why stop there, lets come for the gas and electricity next, WE the people own that too!!

Karl Parkinson

In an era where white collar criminals who steal millions and destroy the economy meet gardai by appointment with their team of solicitors, a 16 year old had 10 gardai bang on his door and arrest him before school over a protest at which nobody was even injured. There is no longer a single accountant in this state dedicated to tackling crime in the banking and financial services sectors, yet 20 gardai were assigned to collect evidence against people from one of the most disadvantaged areas in the country for engaging in the type of protest that Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and many senior members of the Labour Party employed in the past. This is an unprecedented attack on the right to protest. Civil disobedience is our last line of defence against being further defrauded by this corrupt state. If civil disobedience is criminalised the average citizen have no protection against whatever the state wants to do to them. These people are facing an attack from the full force of the state, we all need to support them as they courageously resist this sinister development, because they are doing this on behalf of every citizen.

Frankie Gaffney

There’s a war being waged by the governing classes in this country against equality, democracy and basic rights. Whether in education, housing, healthcare, or natural resources (including water and gas) this war is designed to benefit the richest and most corrupt sectors of Irish society – the rotten apples we’ve all been paying for. The Jobstown activists represent the communities of people who have been fighting back and taking a stand for all of our rights. They have my full solidarity.”

Ciaran O Rourke

It’s hard for me to find the words…working class people are routinely demonized, ignored. They’re the bad guys on cop shows, Jeremy Kyle punchlines. They’re supposed to die quietly of overdoses or spousal abuse. They’re not supposed to speak, to organise, to recognise injustice and peacefully protest against it. They’re not supposed to be brave or smart or know what they need. Or don’t.

The Jobstown protestors did not hurt anyone. The outrageous thing they did was to argue back against a government that has quietly bled them dry. They found their words. I’m finding mine. Not guilty.

Susan Millar DuMars

Working class activists are having their lives destroyed because they peacefully protested against their own impoverishment. It’s an old story. The Jobstown trial has been a cruel and unusual use of the state’s apparently limited resources to hammer home that all collectivity is a punishable offence. The idea that people in Jobstown ‘imprisoned’ Joan Burton is a joke, a laughable and weaponised distortion of the very definition of the word, and yet another clear example of political policing and political law meant to terrify all of us into never protesting again.

The first trial, where a former Tánaiste testified against a minor in the children’s court, was a farce and should stand as a glaring and lasting testimony to the enormous failure of the state to protect its children from the onslaught of austerity.

Oisin O Faogaoin

“The Jobstown protesters are standing up for every Irish citizen’s right to take part in protest and to engage in free expression without fear of arrest, imprisonment or persecution by the state. We must all support each other by supporting them.” –

Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile, Liverpool John Moores University

For an opportunistic and cynical politician to milk a spurious legal case out of an act of protest is not only a waste of the courts’ time, it sets a dangerous precedent in a democracy. The bullies always pick on the young. But the people know who belongs in the dock. No amount of media smokescreening will change that. –

Peter Murphy, writer.

“The treatment of the Jobstown protesters is proof positive of Ireland’s war against the working class. It’s a war that manifests itself in every aspect of our lives, quietly, but this very public intimidation of, and brutality against, working class protestors is far from quiet. It’s a thundering, brutish reminder from the powers that powers-that-be that legitimate emotion is prohibited and resistance will be dismantled. It is our responsibility as activists to steer the narrative away from a troubling line of thinking that protest equals criminality. It is our responsibility to support our friends who find themselves flung mercilessly into the firing line.

Love and solidarity to Jobstown Not Guilty

Eoin O Faogain

The trial of the Jobstown protesters is an attempt by the establishment to exact some small revenge for the humiliation they suffered at the hands of the Anti-Water Charges movement. The amazing thing is not that Joan Burton was delayed in her car that day but that it took so long for such a thing to happen. Joan Burton should give Paul Murphy a nice big kiss for negotiating her departure from Tallaght that day; Katherine Zappone should probably be prosecuted for having invited her in the first place; and all of those charged should be given awards, perhaps honorary degrees from Trinity or NUI Galway. Back in 2014 the event – and the crazed reaction to of many so called ‘liberals’- inspired this poem

Kevin Higgins

Water dampens dust. The Jobstown 23 and their fellow critics of privatisation may resemble impersonal grey sludge to Joan Burton but a closer study reveals cement and the greater the pressure, the stronger it holds. People will not be stifled by airborne particles of toxic decisions made by politicians that float and find their way into every home, poisoning minds into accepting metered allocations of daylight robbery. Protest built this country and only protest can preserve what’s left before land and lakes are sold away for private gain. Grey sludge perhaps, the people, but we shall not be moved.

Naomi Neu

“I nominate the Jobstown protest for next’s year’s Nobel prize for literature. No Irish writer in history has expressed him/her/itself so creatively and succinctly as in their current work-in-progress the ending of which the establishment want written by lazy, unelected, elite-schooled judges sitting on warm wads of austerity-proofed 50 euro notes – or their personally hand-slapped ‘juries’. Defend your right to protest and in the process help to collectively finish an important piece of world literature. Support the Jobstown Protestors.”

Camillus John.

I think Kathleen Lynn is being remembered a lot recently, with that nostalgic sepia that comes when you can discuss rebels in the parlor, though most not parlor inclined kind of people. “The bullets fell like rain. The firing came from all sides and continued till after darkness fell.”

Seems, it is nice to be rebellious of spirit, but not rebellious. Seems, the position you’re in, is perhaps the one best suited to you, and although we “Irish” do not appear to advocate a “caste system” we nonetheless have a wonderful instinctive ability to know “your place” for you.

You too should know your place.

The middle merchant classes are comfortable in the knowledge that their ability to talk best, and talk most, with the best and most protected places to talk in, almost automatically entitles them to a different seat at the National table.

The irony of the 1916 celebrations is more disgraceful in light of Jobstown, and the hypocritical treatment a century on of the state of cap wearers to the cap doffers, and cap sellers to the cap sewers.

Water charges are wrong. And protests are justified. A protest isn’t a chat in the local City Hall. Historically, protests are not been pretty. Just look at the Cochabamba Water War (maybe the Roman Catholic Church would like to involve themselves in this trial also, as in Bolivia, they have a good record of out smarting the main stream legal system.)

There is a long wrong-list I could write, but we go back to what we do best, blaming the message bringers. The message bringers for not bringing the right message in the right way with the right language, until enough time has passed to write a ballad for them, or name a bridge.

Elaine Feeney

As a member of the working class, I see every day, often at quarters all too close, the rift between the middle and upper class establishment, and the working class this establishment claims to serve. As this rift expands, we need to feel we can arm ourselves with the right to stand against our government, through peaceful means, for the protection of our values and ourselves. Jobstown Not Guilty, you have represented this right of the working class admirably. Continue to fight the good fight. We are all fighting this war together.

Nathasha Helen Crudden

This year the electorate decimated Joan Burton’s Labour Party: a democratic verdict on the policies that forced the Jobstown demonstrators to engage in legitimate civil disobedience. In suing them, the state is disguising an anti-democratic attempt to deter protest as a defence of democracy. This persecution must fail.

Raymond Deane (Composer, author, activist)

That the people in charge of our state have no more imagination than to prosecute a 15 year old for his part in a popular public protest should come as no surprise to us, they also can’t seem to imagine any alternatives to neo-liberal asset stripping for our country’s resources. That now even when the day is won they are still attempting to prosecute others who participated in a protest in Jobstown is even less surprising. Without a doubt the people who marched and boycotted and demonstrated against water charges have won a rare victory (although we will have to be vigilant not to have it snatched away from us in the future). That this victory was won without violence and without injury is yet another thing to celebrate. It will be up to us now though to make sure that the stories we tell ourselves about this time remind us of exactly how it came about because it will and is already being warped and distorted. The right to water campaign was and is a movement with solidarity and human rights front and centre and we need to show more solidarity now for all those still facing trial for their part in the Jobstown protest.

Sarah Clancy

The aim of these show trials is obvious: to raise the cost of protest in the minds of an angry populace, to price us out of the market with fear of what we might face. So the duty of solidarity is equally obvious: to keep fighting, on all fronts, in defiance of fear.

Harry Browne, lecturer and journalist

Jobstown is indicative of Ireland as a whole. A gilded numpty has the system wrapped around her finger and uses it to prosecute a peaceful protest.

At worst, the jobstown protest got a little out of hand and it required a few minutes of calming down before everything was fine and no one was hurt.

Imagine if we could say the same for the governments policies: everything was fine and no one was hurt.

Tell that to the 6,000 homeless bracing -6 cold, the 23 year old who has to live on 100 quid a week because the social welfare considers him a child, the 40 year old working his third year of a slave labour scheme.

When one thinks about the double Irish Dutch sandwich, the galway tents, the triple Bertie pensions and the lies, the damned lies, of austerity uber alles, it’s a miracle the jobstown protest was peaceful.

If this is how we treat peace, perhaps it’s a fine year for a centenary after all.

Shane Vaughan

Castro died three days ago. Since then I have not read an Irish newspaper or listened to Irish radio. I gave up the TV years ago. The reason is that I know exactly what they will say. They will wheel the enablers of billionaires out to tell us that Castro was a bad thing, to make fun of his country, to point to the great superiority of ‘our system’ over communism – as if having the best health service in the world and 100% literacy were not something Ireland could only dream about. As if having the richest country in the world with the biggest weapons industry on your doorstep, blockading you, invading you, attempting to assassinate your leader and conducting a continuous propaganda war were some wort of minor irritation.

Ireland is a country where a child is jailed for detaining a politician for two hours in a variety of police cars, protected by armed police officers. Where a coalition of men priests and men politicians tell a woman what to do with her womb. Where a coalition of men priests and men doctors let a woman die in childbirth because she couldn’t have and abortion, force-rehydrate a woman who had been raped because she couldn’t have an abortion. This is a country where it takes almost two years for a child to get an appointment to see a specialist if they’re suffering from a crippling disease. This is a country where a ‘recovery’ involves shipping 80,000 young people a year to other countries, cutting payments to disabled people, while at the same time paying politicians a wage increase. This is a country where there is legal and illegal corruption at every level of the the state.

But this is also a country that is learning to fight back. We’re getting up off our knees. These prosecutions are the clearest sign that Power is trembling. Why else would they go to so much time and expense to prosecute people for such a non-crime as protesting?

The politicians see what’s happening. They see parties of the Left providing a more hopeful future, a way of thinking about politics which doesn’t involve bribing county councillors or paying off media billionaires. They know that once the idea takes hold that THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE and that alternative is socialism, then they will see their cosy little arrangements go up in smoke. No more retiring from politics to take up seats on various boards of directors. No more being paid for speeches. No more handing rich contracts to your friends and relations. And no more criminalising protest.

The future, to use James Connolly’s words, will see ‘the Irish nation as the supreme ruler and owner of itself, and all things necessary to its people’.

William Wall

Burton, you claim to have been trapped in a car, but have you ever been trapped in poverty or a ghetto of unemployment? ever felt trapped by hopelessness in a system you have no control of? where are those court cases – oh no, we can’t afford them.

Jessamine O Connor

This year the electorate decimated Joan Burton’s Labour Party: a democratic verdict on the policies that forced the Jobstown demonstrators to engage in legitimate civil disobedience. In suing them, the state is disguising an anti-democratic attempt to deter protest as a defence of democracy. This persecution must fail.

Raymond Deane (Composer, author, activist)
‘Slovenia adds water to constitution as fundamental right for all, to protect it from future privatisation’, November 2016.

Jobstown Water Protectors will be remembered in history as those that made a stand against water privatisation.

Those that have stated ‘they can’t expect to get everything for free’ crowd, will be remembered in history something like this

‘Later, middle class protesters, aggrieved by the Rising, gathered outside the Coombe hospital when Mallin’s wife, Agnes, gave birth to Maura Constance’. 1916

Solidarity is the way forward, we have many human rights battles to win. We all have a choice to be on the right side of history or not, the story will be told.

We can make Ireland the best little country in the world together.
I inherently believe we are good people.

Gillian Brien, Intersectional Human Rights Activist, Manager Youth Service

It’s a no-brainer, if the water charges have been dropped, so should the jobstown charges be dropped at once.

Adam Wyeth

“When a woman gives birth to her son/…..she would storm the world,/ punch armies aside/ to reach him, hold him, comfort him.” When ten gardaí haul a child from his bed, stop him from going to school and accuse him of being a ringleader of a legal protest, it is time to storm the world. As a peaceful water protector I saw similar state bullying and assault at Woodburn Forest this year: heavy-handed unjust arrests, point-blank tear-gassing of an assault victim; police protection for a private company whilst intimidating the citizens they are supposed to protect. More power to your elbow Jobstown 23.

Judith Lowan’s Thurley

I wonder how Joan Burton would like it if the Jobstown protesters busted into her house at 4am, all Irish riot gear, Hurley and Sliotar, and stole her out into the night in front of friends and family to falsely put her on trial. Except she’s done much more to “disturb the peace” than innocent water protectors from Jobstown.

Niall Donnelly

If the State can rest easy knowing it can wrongfully imprison members of the populace, especially its young men and women, for quite justifiably exerting their democratic right to protest oppressive governmental policies that seem designed purely to hurt the most vulnerable, then it makes one seriously worried about the state of democracy of modern Ireland.

Daniel Wade

Laddering Tights (after Kate Bush) by Kevin Higgins

You take it out and show me,

and we roll violently around on the green

Sunday evenings when the rest of the Village

are home planning to kill their wives.

You have a temper, like my lactose intolerance,

my peanut allergy combined.
Bad tummy in the night

I thought I was going to lose

the bean chilli with chocolate and walnuts

you made me, leave my laddering, laddering,

laddering tights

behind on the bathroom floor.
You are Cliff Richard, only crueller.

Totally bald now and the top of my head’s

so cold! Let me climb back in your letter box and show you

the things I learned at art school.
It gets dark out here and the street is full of loonies,

all of whom remind me of you.

Without you I whine a lot,

whine a lot, find

the ceiling comes clattering down

covers me in fine white dust,

even when I’m outside,

wailing in your scullery air vent.
You are crueller even

than Sir Edward Heath

to leave me out here singing like this.

Yours the only face I want to see

when I tear off your gimp mask

and show the moves

I learned at the interpretive dance class

you made me take.
I’ve come home.

And it’s fucking cold out here.

Let me in your bathroom window.
Let me grab it, almost

yank it right off and put it

in a toasted rye bread sandwich.
You made me leave my laddering, laddering,

laddering tights

behind on the cruel bathroom floor

and, in the circumstances,

the least you could do

is not leave me here with my howling head

wedged in your bastard cat flap.
KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogmans Cannon satirist-in-residence

The Word in Flames – Essays on Literature & Revolt – New E-book from Dave Lordan + book trailer

Paypal address: Suggested Donation 10 euro.

My e-book of essays on art, literature, social change & multimedia creation THE WORD IN FLAMES is ready to go.

The suggested donation is a tenner, paid through my paypal account, the address of which is

Copies of the e-book can be read on any device such as a smartphone, tablet, iPad, PC, Mac, Laptop, Desktop etc. You don’t need a paypal account to pay through paypal – any debit or credit card will do.

Smaller & larger donations than a tenner also welcome.

All proceeds will go straight to me, the writer of the book! & will go towards buying me more writing time, & upgrading my audio & video equipment. Since taking up videography in early 2016 I have voluntarily made over 100 videos for grassroots artists, community groups, & social movements. If you think what I do has any value, please do consider making a solidarity donation in exchange for the book.

But first, here’s what some deep-thinking activist heads have to say about The Word in Flames:

“The Word in Flames” confirms Dave Lordan’s stature as the most original, incendiary and impassioned voice writing in Ireland today. The combined lyricism and potency of his writing confronts the reader, forcing us, as all great writers do, to see the things we are unwilling or forbidden to know.

Dr. Sinéad Kennedy Department of English, Maynooth University & Secretary, Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment (pc)

Irish writing has not seen prose as brilliant as this since the Enlightenment. With the clarity of Orwell and an indignation reminiscent of Swift, Dave Lordan identifies the tensions and responsibilities that crystallise within great art, whenever artists are brave enough to allow them to do so. 

Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile. Author of Blasted Literature: Victorian Political Fiction and the Shock of Modernism. Senior Lecturer in English Literature Liverpool John Moores University

If you like polemic to be scalding, defiant, revolutionary and erotic, then you’ll relish this book. By turn erudite, poetic, auto-biographical and scholarly (often all of these at once), this is an important anthology of essays by Ireland’s only literary prophet. Beware, it will make you a disciple.

Conor Kostick, Author of Revolution in Ireland (Cork University Press,) 2009

“Every once in a while an organic intellectual pushes through, by sheer strength of will and intellectual capability, the dense network of disciplinary and punitive systems that are designed to control the working class. Such a person is rare in Ireland, because public life works to hedge around and make precarious the voice of the outsider who has not been to the right school or played the right games. Dave Lordan is one such voice.”

William Wall, Author of This is The Country.

Donate to Dave Lordan’s Community Funding Appeal at paypal address, & receive a copy of e-book The Word In Flames.

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What is Direct Provision, by Sarah Clancy

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A good few people have been asking me about the direct provision system in Ireland over the last while and I was kind of shamed myself to realise that lots of people don’t really know what it is. As part of my attempt to not be stuck in an echo chamber talking only to people who are already engaged I thought I’d write up a small basic explanation of what it actually entails – I am no human rights lawyer so I am only doing my best to explain it simply and in a way that some people might find useful. Please feel free to share or correct or jump in.

Every country in the UN is obliged to allow people to seek protection from persecution they face in another country. We all have this right, its from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 14.1 Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. ‘Persecution’ means that the person is in danger and this can be for any number of reasons, war, political or religious beliefs or activities trade union activity, famine, ethnic cleansing, sexuality and lots of other reasons.

Direct provision is the method by which Ireland responds to its obligation under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to allow people to ask the state to give them asylum. It was started in the year 2000 as a temporary measure because there were an increase in applications for asylum around then. Before reading the next piece I must tell you that at the moment in Ireland there are people who have lived for up to 11 years in direct provision. I also heard from a teacher in Galway of a child in her class who has lived ten years of her life in direct provision so far.

Basically it means that the needs of asylum seekers are to be provided directly to them rather than allowing them the means or opportunities to do that themselves. Direct provision centres are like big hostels where people live while waiting for a decision on whether their request to be allowed to have asylum in Ireland will be granted. If the asylum seeker is decided to be genuinely fleeing persecution then they must be granted ‘refugee status’ which means they get to live here in Ireland with the same rights and entitlements that citizens have. Ireland has one of the lower rates in the EU (we are 21st out of 30 countries) for granting refugee status to people (3% of applications).…/

But back to direct provision- the people who live in direct provision live for the most part in dorm type 4 bed rooms which they share with strangers, family groupings often get a room to themselves, usually with parents sharing with their children. Whilst living in these centres people must eat canteen style food at certain fixed hours every day and they are not except in a few exceptional places allowed any cooking facilities of their own. Asylum seekers may not be away from the centres for extended periods of time without seeking the permission of staff and they are often required to sign in daily so as not to forfeit their place.

During their time in DP as it’s known the adult asylum seekers receive a ‘comfort payment’ of €19.10 per week and for each child they receive about €14 (this was increased by about €5.00 recently which is why I am not sure of the figure) The adult amount has not increased since direct provision started. Although asylum seekers are given medical cards they receive no other payments and are prohibited from seeking employment of any kind while their cases are being heard so unless they have independent means they are maintained in poverty.

The lack of money, or permission to work and the isolated locations of many centres mean that many asylum seekers despite living in Ireland are not in any real way able to be part of the communities and places that they live. In my own experience many asylum seekers manage to circumvent all these difficulties and restrictions by making huge efforts to volunteer or join religious or sporting communities but it is very difficult for them.

Depression and poor mental health as well as post-traumatic stress from the situations they have fled from are prevalent in the centres often making life worrisome and dangerous for young children who especially should not be living in such situations.
Children’s allowance which is supposedly available without discrimination to every child in the state cannot be claimed by asylum seekers. Children from direct provision centres go to school like any other child here although this too is very difficult for many as simple things like having their friends home to play or going to birthday parties are made really difficult by the lack of private space and funds. Also when they finish school as many of them already have they have no access to Irish Universities unless they can pay the overseas student fees which can be up to €15,000 per year – an impossibility if they live on €19.10 per week and they may not enter the workforce either meaning that they leave school and have no opportunities available. *Thanks to Annie Asgard for the reminder: This year a scheme was launched to allow certain people in the protection system(asylum seekers) to apply for grants to attend university however while welcome the conditions attached rule out almost everyone as people must have been 5 years in direct provision and 5 years in the irish school system and not be subject to a deportation order – which rules out all but a tiny number.

People living in the DP system usually have no idea how long their cases are going to take and so they exist in a limbo of enforced poverty, idleness and isolation. Very often their skills are going out of date. They are forced into a position where they have been strategically and structurally dis-empowered. They often endure this for years without hearing any news on their cases. The decisions eventually made are often apparently arbitrary and seemingly senseless. If they come to a stage where they are finally denied asylum here they face a deportation order – this means that the Gardai or immigration officials can come for them at any time and forcibly deport them from the state.

Deportation as you can probably imagine is a terrifying prospect. I remember when I worked for Amnesty International in Galway city one of our occasional volunteers ( a cheerful and outgoing young man who could do almost anything from computer programming to building shelves) came to us in absolute and total terror because he had received a letter saying he was being deported- he was certain he would be killed if he was returned home and I have never seem or heard from him again. In international human rights law it is supposed to be illegal and a breach of the Convention relating to the status of Refugees to return a person to a state where they may be in danger. Ireland has behaved haphazardly in this regard with at least one deported asylum seeker being killed almost immediately…/deported-from-ireland-attacked-…

One hugely important thing to say about Direct Provision is that many of the centres in Ireland are run by private business owners who profit hugely from the lucrative state contracts. Companies such as Aramark and Bridgestock and East Coast Catering are also contracted to run the state owned companies. The company that runs Mosney Direct provision centre in Meath declared 5.6 million profits before it offshored itself and didn’t have to publish them anymore. More info on that here…/how-direct-provision-became-a-p……/direct-provision-centres-cos…

One last thing to say is that currently in the Globe House Direct Provision Centre there is an Iranian man Amjad Rosstami on hunger strike so far for 34 days because he has been issued with a deportation order to send him back to Iran. He fears so much what will happen to him on his return that he has been reported as saying that he would rather die here than be sent back. His situation is desperate and his health is declining and this system is being run by our governments with our taxes and we need to do our very very best to end it.

Sarah Clancy.

What They Don’t Know Is, by Kevin Higgins

after Dennis O’Driscoll
That this cannot be avoided by everyone wearing protective glasses.

That the contents of their half-full cups are about to evaporate.

That the University will remain closed until further notice.

That Kim Kardashian’s arse has been abolished.

That the idea of tomorrow is suddenly quaint as a dinner plate made in West Germany.

That the price of house insurance just went up ten thousand per cent.

That the lack of reception on their mobile phones isn’t because they’re going through a tunnel.

That even the hairstyle of the Fox News anchor woman is no longer perfect.

That Adolf is now the second most hated politician in history.

That the station at which this train terminates no longer exists.

That the priest who’ll give them last rites is just a guy in an outfit

his brother recently wore to a fancy dress.

That God is a skeleton who knows everything and will one day talk.

KEVIN HIGGINS is The Bogman’s Cannon satirist-in-residence.

The Pirate Show with Dave Lordan Standing Rock Special available now on Mixcloud

Edition 2 of the Pirate Show featuring Voices From Standing Rock, The Blackfoot Confederacy, Zona Marginal, Lillian Allen, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Olive Groove , King Mob, Andrea Gibson, Pyschic TV, David ‘the rabbi’ Lawrence, Thomas McCarthy, Christy Hennessy, Johnny Darko, The 5th Dimension, Jinx Lennon….Hip-Hop, pow-wow, Dub, Spoken Word, Acappella, Folk, Soul, Hybrid, Cult….broadcast on Dublin Digital Radio Sat Nov 5th at 4pm & Clonline Radio on Sat Nov 12th at 8pm. Show will also be uploaded to Dublin Digital Radio’s mixcloud.

The Justice Cycle, by Eoin Ó Faogáin




The capacity for Irish politicians, state agencies and Government departments to talk is unparalleled.

Our political elites, you see, are exquisite purveyors of relentless talking interspersed with loaded promises. Quiet reflection, or indeed tangible action appear to be absent from the job description.

Amongst all the talk, though, there are of course varying degrees of bullshit. A certain Department of Justice, Equality and (formerly) Law Reform must rank highly in the leaderboards of hollow, ineffective rhetoric.

I’ve spent a lifetime listening to transformative plans for the Inner-City of Dublin from a host of Justice Ministers. In the late-90s, John O’Donoghue adopted the tried-and-tested method of locking people up ad nauseam, which has always been a unanimous success at home and abroad and in no way devastated already impoverished communities. Of course, O’Donoghue had an honest and ultra-professional approach to tackling crime. That’s why the €850,000 worth of expenses swindling and taxpayer funded extravagance that later led to his resignation were just a massive misunderstanding. 

His successor, Michael McDowell, described gang murders as the “last sting of a dying wasp” in 2004, in support of a bizarre view that violent drug-fuelled crime was coming to an end. Within eighteen months of this carefully considered statement, 2006 was a record breaking year in Ireland for gun-related killings, including 5 murders within the space of a week in the December of that year.

Fast forward a decade and a colossal Celtic Tiger has come and gone without ever visiting the Inner-city. In contrast, the cruel beast of austerity was kind enough to stop by and decimate fragile youth and community services. In our time, working conditions have become more precarious, housing of even the poorest standard has become a luxury and progress in education has regressed significantly.

2016, meanwhile, became witness to an escalation in drug-related violence in the North Inner-city concentrated around a 100-day period where members and acquaintances of the Hutch family – many of them guilty only by virtue of their names – were systematically executed by the Kinahan Empire.

The response from current Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was certainly immediate. Unfortunately, though, it failed once again to address the systemic issues around crime and inequality in this community. Armed Gardaí were deployed on every street corner, money was poured aggressively into additional resources.

With trust towards the Gardaí at remarkably low levels among young people here for generations, continuing with a heavy policing policy that patently hasn’t worked is short-sighted at best. This was a prime opportunity to place more emphasis on community policing, on proper engagement with the community the police theoretically serve. Instead the response was the Old Bill on steroids.

There are a multitude of factors in this broken relationship across several generations and they’re important to highlight. Everyone here has a story about being harassed, intimidated or leered at by members of the force. It may sound almost conspiracy-esque from the outside but it’s very real and has been sustained over the years.

Only a couple of months ago, a friend of mine was pulled over and arrested on Portland Row, in a car I was travelling in. When asked by an officer to pull over, he queried the command, on the basis that his tax and insurance was up-to-date and that he hadn’t committed any traffic offences. This led to him being accused of being uncooperative and saw him thrown into Store Street for a couple of hours. As I videoed the events, another officer tried to stop me by proclaiming that filming in public is illegal. It isn’t. As we continued to demand that they at least tell us the grounds of the arrest, they ignored us.

Incidents like this are relatively minor of course but they evoke unwelcome memories.

A decade ago, at 19 years-old, Terence Wheelock died in custody in Store Street. After blatantly interfering with evidence including his clothes, the Gardaí declared Terence’s death as suicide despite no evidence to suggest this was actually the case. His family, and many more people besides, believe that he was murdered in custody. They have campaigned relentlessly in the intervening years for justice and, as a consequence, had to leave their family home in Summerhill due to the severity of harassment they suffered on behalf of An Garda Siochana.

When Frances Fitzgerald, Enda Kenny or any of their predecessors have talked about getting tough on Inner-city crime they’re offering easily digestible sound bytes to Middle Ireland. Their failure, however, is in acknowledging the cultural context around the conditions that lead to high crime rates and in why communities here feel so disenfranchised with the Gardaí.

As Cllr. Éilis Ryan pointed out earlier this year, the entire budget allocated to community development in the Northeast Inner City is just a measly €650,000 – by comparison, Minister Fitzgerald outlined plans to invest €5,000,000 in a new armed policing unit in the aftermath of the most recent round of violence. The figure of €650,000 is a result of cuts of 38% in 2015 along with a cumulative total of 40% in cuts in expenditure in this area over the previous six years.

We’re investing a six-figure sum in bulking up a Force that has proven itself to be ineffective in dealing with Inner-city drugs and crime issues, while eroding the resources available to community schemes and projects which had the capacity to educate and engage the young people most at risk.

Dublin 1’s third level educational attainment rate is the 2nd lowest among the city’s 24 postcodes, at 23%. There are wonderful organisations trying to tackle this and make education more accessible – the Trinity Access Programme is a shining example – but these organisations cannot generate radical change alone. They require willingness and co-operation from Government. They require legislative foresight.

Education, at face value, is not an issue for a Justice Department. However, continued expenditure in traditional policing alone has a knock-on effect in this area. The fewer resources available to young people at school age, the more likely they are to fall into crime rather than pursue a career – and so the cycle is perpetuated.

It’s a point that’s applicable to so many aspects of our political decision making, but when will they learn? When will these endless years of failed strategies be critically evaluated and changed in accordance with the community’s needs?

It’s a rhetorical question of course. I’ll be writing a mirror image of this piece in twenty years’ time.


Eoin Ó Faogáin is a regular contributor to The Bogman’s Cannon

The Curious Case of the Corpo Employee Who Worked Himself to Death

Henrietta House

Herbert Simms – Social Activist Architect Extraordinaire

We all wondered why the section of skirting board gripped firmly in her left hand had a smattering of rusty nails hammered into its vintage far end. During a Heritage Week Walking Tour 2016, Dr. Ellen Rowley, architectural and cultural historian, took an original Herbert Simms skirting board, circa late 1940s Ballyfermot Housing Estate, out of her haversack and began smish-smashing people over the head with it. Metaphorically speaking, of course. You see, the rusty nails at the end draw blood and searing enlightenment almost instantaneously when shillelaghed over someone’s head, thereby, precipitating a quicker response and epiphany to her architectural questions than otherwise would have been forthcoming organically. Time is of the essence on modernist walking tours. Best. Heritage. Week. Walking. Tour. Ever.

‘Hands up who’s from Cabra, Crumlin, Ballyfermot, Henrietta House or Chancery House?’ she’d asked. An eager battery of paws shot up.
‘Where are you from?’
‘Who designed and built your house?’
‘Don’t know.’
‘Who designed and built your house?’
‘Don’t know.’

The rusty-nailed skirting board came out and over my head and across my face repeatedly until I screamed, ‘Herbert Simms! Herbert Simms!’ in a mouth-foaming fit of spewing sputum.

‘Correctamundo,’ she intoned from behind Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction sunglasses.
Herbert Simms is the most important architect Ireland has ever seen. Or is likely to ever see. It’s hard to disagree with such a hypothesis once privy to the brute facts. For a start, he was born foreign – and he architected and built my house –and the house I was brought up in – probably yours too on average if you’re a Dub. Shut the door – he’s now designing your window.

Herbert Simms was Housing Architect to Dublin Corporation from 1932 until 1948. Born in London and from a very modest background he studied architecture at Liverpool University with the aid of a scholarship earned as a result of his service in the imperialist First World War. He designed and built approximately 17,000 new dwellings in Dublin during that time. i.e. loads. His works encompassed striking flat blocks in the city centre (Henrietta House, Chancery House, Marrowbone Lane Flats) to herculean housing schemes of Byronic two-storey cottages (houses) in Crumlin, Cabra and Ballyfermot. They called this type of Corpo house, a cottage, back then for some unknown romantic reason to die for.

This was at a time of mass state construction and provision of social housing. After the recent introduction of draconian new mortgage lending guidelines and consequently the chances of any working-class person being able to afford a home ever again going up in flames for generations to come, Herbert’s oeuvre astounds and deranges the senses to the point of sentimentality. i.e. it’s hard not to cry (or sooth yourself numb with water syringed directly from the river Lethe in mourning for the loss of a not-too-distant sort of prelapsarian Arcadia of astonishing housing plenitude we’ll never see the likes of again).

If you grew up in Cabra, Crumlin or Ballyfermot who’ve probably heard people say many, many times over that although the areas may have had their problems in the past, at least the houses were very well built. Solid. Of substance. And this is where Dr Ellen Rowley confirmed this widely-held belief by bringing her rusty-nailed skirting board out as proof of the pudding by way of anecdote. Unlike every Irish architect that came after him, Herbert, was a stickler for decent building standards. A determined fussiness. Like what Nye Bevan in England was doing when he wasn’t busy creating the consummately-unimaginable-in-Ireland NHS. Most of Herbert’s buildings are still standing to this day.

On one occasion when his superiors tried to obviate the requirement for skirting boards in a housing scheme of his, Herbert went bananas to such an extent that he threatened to chop off his left ear and post it to Archbishop McQuaid in protest. Metaphorically speaking, of course. However, he may have won the battle of the skirting board but he eventually lost his long war of attrition with the archbishop of Dublin, Charles McQuaid, that had highly significant sexual consequences for the people of Dublin as a whole in the years to come (see below).

So there was a strong flavour of a Van Gogh about his temperament which is quite apposite since his buildings display a huge Dutch influence by contemporaneous modernist apartment blocks by de Klerk in Amsterdam and J.P. Oud in Rotterdam. In evidence of this, he took part in a space-cake fuelled study trip to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in 1925 with his Dublin Corporation colleagues which proved quite illuminating. Therefore, the first mod in Dublin wasn’t Paul Cleary from Ringsend band, The Blades, it was Herbert Simms, a sort of re-contextualised Paul Weller of Irish architects and as sharply dressed as the peacock suit facades of his city centre apartment blocks. Vincent Van Gogh’s work wasn’t appreciated, either, until after he passed away by shooting his brains out with a revolver and splattering them over his four living rooms walls. In a similar fashion, the way in which Herbert kissed the moon was all ravelled up with Archbishop McQuaid, Michael O’Brien (Dublin Corporation Town Planning Officer), housing schemes ‘n’ wheezes, population control, pills, thrills and bellyaches.

During the 1930s, 1940s and beyond Irish Catholic “thinking” was that high rise flats were bad and two storey cottages (houses) were good like in George Orwell’s two-legs-good-four-legs-bad novel, Animal Farm, except slightly more sinister. The “rationale” underpinning this was that people have more opportunity for sexual profligacy and indecency in city centre apartment blocks than in far-out, deracinated housing estates in which all public spaces are strictly controlled. And that’s how McQuaid and O’Brien killed Herbert; their obsession with sex.

Each detail of any proposed social housing scheme in Dublin had to go first and foremost for approval to McQuaid and O’Brien who at the time were great friends in faith. They regularly polished each other’s rosary beads and drank each other’s holy water. The archbishop wanted to control people living in these new areas so they’d be match-fit for his multifarious religious purposes. This meant that he obsessed about the location of any proposed church or religious-run school in relation to the dwellings. He had to personally rubber-stamp every architectural plan and design which at a time of frantic state house building meant Herbert was frazzled and worked to the edge of all physical and mental endurance fighting against and sadly encompassing some of their ever-changing diktats into his plans. Basically, the archbishop wanted to strictly limit any public spaces on which people might congregate to those that were under the direct auspices of his church. Anything else was communism and he would physically destroy any such ideologically poor plans presented to him with his very own bespoke length of rusty-nailed skirting board.

‘What do you mean a library? This is an outrage, a Trotskyist plot! What we need is another church, Herbert. One with a longer transept and a commensurate curving apse. Rendered in Portland stone methinks. Can’t you see that, boy?’

Which meant very poorly socially-serviced housing but very closely regulated and ruled. To within an inch of people’s lives. Which is Dr Rowley’s theory and current thinking on this subject as far as I can ascertain.

Another possible reason for the above heavy-handed control and Stasi nit-picking interference with state housing plans and designs, I posit, was so that the church could set up paedophile rings within communities facilitated by respectable primary and secondary school teachers, doctors and the Gardaí. As documented by the Ryan Report, The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, this systematic raping and sexual abuse of Irish children by the Catholic Church persisted for generations thereafter.

Chancery House.

Anyway, all this extra work and hassle by the church led our social activist architect and hero, Herbert Simms, to tragically commit suicide by jumping onto the railway tracks at Dun Laoghaire in 1948. The suicide note found on his person advised that overwork was threatening his sanity. But perhaps he had a premonition that frescoed the church’s future “plans and uses” for his Brutalist artworks in sinister sfumato. Or perhaps the archbishop told him out straight, he was a forthright man who always told it like it was, according to the history books.

All that remains is for me to cherry this piece like all articles I’ve read about Herbert Simms, with the following quote. Warning: There will be tears.

“A tribute by Ernest F.N. Taylor, the city surveyor, was published in the Irish Builder: ‘Behind a quiet and unassuming manner there lurked a forceful personality; and Mr Simms could uphold his point of view with a vigour that sometimes surprised those who did not know him well. By sheer hard work and conscientious devotion to duty, he has made a personal contribution towards the solution of Dublin’s housing problem, probably unequalled by anyone in our time…It is not given to many of us to achieve so much in the space of a short lifetime for the benefit of our fellow men.’”

Things to do now: Look out a window of any of Herbert’s 17,000 dwellings at end of day and you’ll be able to see an iridescent reinterpretation of Van Gogh’s Starry Night smiling before you. Then please do press play and listen to The Jam: “In the city there’s a thousand things I wanna say to you.”


Camillus John was bored and braised in Dublin. He has been published in The Stinging Fly, RTÉ Ten and Recently he killed the Prime Minister of Ireland in fiction in the Welsh literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, with a piece entitled, The Assassination of Enda Kenny (After Hilary Mantel). He would also like to mention that Pat’s won the FAI cup in 2014 for the first time in 53 miserable years of not winning it.