With so much negative stuff in the news these days, it was good to hear an upbeat item on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk), last Friday. It was part of a series on the North Inner City of Dublin, a place full of history, characters and subject to what Kenny called “one of the worst deprivations in the entire country”.
Councillor Gary Gannon grew up there, had seen the value of education and worked his way to an Arts Degree in Trinity College.
Some residents reminisced about the older, safer days, but one lady insisted that she still left her door open from morning until night and seemed proud of it .
Another woman who served the community had a story of hope and achievement – she had got herself off drug dependency, met her husband in rehab, and now had created quite a stable family. A community worker said the local Church used to be a focus for the community, but that was no longer the case. I’d like to have heard more about why.
Other contributors, including Minister Paschal Donoghue, praised recovery services that help people with drug addiction, especially the After Care Recovery Group (ARCG). A staff member, explaining why people in misery took drugs in the first place, described “a solution that became a problem”.
The contrast between the areas of social deprivation and the financial district (the IFSC) was stark, with even a 20-foot wall between them – walls are in the news big-time!
On another social justice issue, the fallout from President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration caused a huge stir last week. At least protests are more defensible when people are protesting against the policy rather than against the person democratically elected.
Leap of Faith (RTÉ Radio 1) last Friday had an interesting angle on the matter. Michael Comyn interviewed Mark Hetfield of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in the USA. He thought Trump’s measure was a “vile executive order” and “the most offensive thing he could have done”, especially as it coincided with Holocaust Memorial Day.
Funny how Nazi comparisons have become politically correct of late.
He found that ever since the 9/11 attacks, security concerns had dominated US procedures. However, though critical of governments from Reagan to Obama he found he was always able to partner with them. In Trump’s case, however, he feared retribution.
Similar points of view were featured on Sunday Sequence (BBC Radio Ulster) last weekend. Róisín McAuley interviewed Michael Wear, former staffer in the Obama White House, who had worked on faith-based initiatives, feeding into policy making.
He accepted that didn’t always work out as there were divisions, e.g. with the Catholic bishops over matters of religious freedom. He criticised Trump policies as “crass”, “shallow” and even “Machiavellian”, but also criticised the Democratic Party on their “ineptitude” on religion in the 2016 elections.
More broadly, he thought politics in the USA had now taken up “emotional space” it was never meant to take up – it could never meet emotional needs.
On the same show we heard a clip of Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nicholls of Westminster expressing concerns about the immigration measures, suggesting that safety couldn’t be secured by fear, but by relationships.
Different perspectives were scarce, but some were offered on various programmes last week by Seth Barrett Tillman, law lecturer in Maynooth University. He appeared on RTÉ’s Six-One News on Tuesday of last week in a robust interview with Bryan Dobson.
He thought it was fair for Acting Attorney General Sally Yates not to defend Trump’s order, but also fair for Trump to let her go, and he pointed out that she hadn’t provided a public rationale for her position.
He said that the vast majority of journalists were Democrat supporters and never scrutinised Democrat Party policies in the same way they were taking on those of Trump.
Hard to know what to believe in media these days but I find it useful is to experience original events rather than getting them filtered through media commentators.
Last Wednesday on NBC News I watched in full the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, a nomination that if successful, and if it leads to restrictions on abortion, will save lives. It was actually a moving ceremony, with Gorsuch managing to be what Trump rarely is – gracious, articulate, reasoned and even humbled by his impending elevation.
Pick of the week
UNDERCOVER: BRITAIN’S HOMELESS SCANDAL: CHANNEL 4 DISPATCHES
Channel 4, Monday, February 13, 8pm
The government has pledged more money to councils to help the homeless but Dispatches asks whether this will be enough to solve this growing crisis.
CATHOLICS COME HOME
EWTN Monday, February 13, 8.30pm, Tuesday 2.30pm
Paul and Celia Donlon, share how their search for meaning and purpose in life led them into the Catholic Church.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND
Channel 4 Thurs Feb 16, 8 am
Debra gets Ray to confront his reluctance to join her and the family at Sunday Mass.