Gerry O'Carroll: Church must never again place its own interests before the welfare of children
THE country has been convulsed with shock, disgust and anger since the full extent of clerical child sex abuse became known.
This sickening scandal rocked the Catholic Church to its very foundations and destroyed the trust and faith of many.
Even more shocking have been the extraordinary lengths the church has gone to cover things up.
The overriding imperative of the vast majority of the church hierarchy has been to protect the good name of that institution at all costs.
Many a blind eye has been turned to the misery and suffering inflicted on innocent children by evil paedophile priests.
This was further highlighted dramatically last week when Cardinal Sean Brady, the retired head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, appeared before the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in Co Down.
Giving evidence about notorious paedophile Brendan Smyth, he admitted that secrecy was the prime consideration to keep the church's good name safe.
Smyth died in prison in 1995. He was convicted the year before on multiple counts of child abuse here and in the North.
He was a recidivist sexual predator who preyed on children in hospitals, schools and residential homes over a 40-year period.
His unspeakable crimes were covered up by church authorities, including Cardinal Brady, who admitted that the church's response to clerical sex criminals such as Brendan Smyth was "totally ineffective and inadequate" with "little or no consideration for those who had been abused".
Cardinal Brady spoke of a shroud of secrecy and confidentiality with a view not to destroy the good name of the church.
"To offset that, the scandal was kept a secret, very, very secret," he said.
It was an extraordinary admission coming from such a high-ranking church man and demonstrates very clearly the church's obsession with protecting its own reputation at the cost of the lives and welfare of innocent little children.
Cardinal Brady publicly apologised for his inaction in tackling clerical child sexual abuse.
The inquiry is shining a very disturbing light into the church's dark history over the past few decades.
As a result of the Murphy and Ryan commissions, the Catholic Church's handling of reports of child abuse has undergone a fundamental, enlightened and profound sea change.
The common laws of this land enacted by statute will from henceforth take precedence over canon law.
Church leaders can no longer evade their responsibilities and hide behind their archaic, outmoded and farcical church laws.
The church has a mountain to climb to regain the confidence of Catholics worldwide.
Monsters such as Brendan Smyth, hiding behind the clerical collar, can never be allowed to ruin the lives of children ever again.
Images of bloodshed on the beach have erased my happy Tunisia memories
When I heard of the massacre in the Tunisian seaside resort of Sousse, a shiver went down my spine.
Shortly after I retired from An Garda Siochana in 2000, my wife Kathleen and I went to that very resort and stayed at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel, where some of the killings took place. We found the Tunisian people, warm and friendly.
Killer Seifeddine Rezgui (24), over a short period of time went from being a fun-loving lad to a deranged, bloodthirsty mass murderer.
We know now that he was a follower of Islamic State, which wreaked havoc in Libya, Syria and indeed in the US. Remember the Boston bombings.
His distraught father finds it almost impossible to understand the ideology behind this extreme Islamic cult.
These lone wolf attacks by deranged Islamic fundamentalists can occur anywhere and at any time.
It is proving an almost insurmountable challenge for security forces across Europe to combat this growing and deadly menace.
Last January we had the attack by the same fundamentalists on the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
On the same day as the Tunisian massacre, another Islamic fanatic cut his boss's head off and impaled it on a fence flanked by two IS flags in France. IS was also responsible for the bomb attack - on the same day - in Kuwait that left at least 30 Shiite Muslims dead in a mosque.
This terrorist organisation has now taken centre stage with its death cult and hate-fuelled ideology. The world is a much more dangerous place.
My prayers and condolences go out to the three Irish people - Lorna Carty and Laurence and Martina Hayes - and all the other innocents who died in that terrible massacre.
My happy memories of that lovely holiday in Tunisia have been spoiled forever.
Thanks, Dara - it looks like I'm easily wound-up
I was surprised and disappointed to read comments made in a newspaper column by Dara O Se (above) as I have tremendous respect for him as a great footballer and a kind and decent person.
In the article, he seems to be condoning the so called practice of sledging - winding up opponents.
He was referring specifically on how to contain the glorious skills of Dublin senior county footballer Diarmuid Connelly. Dara suggested that Diarmuid might have to have his tail pulled (sledging).
This type of behaviour is not part of Kerry footballing culture.
I mentioned the interview to an acquaintance. He told me I was naive.
He recounted an incident in the 1985 All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Kerry when the teams were standing to attention for our national anthem and Kerry legend Paidi O Se gave Joe McNally a kick-up the arse.
On reflection, maybe I am naive.
I salute the bravery of Clodagh Cogley, a survivor of the Berkeley tragedy, who ended up with a broken spine and may never walk again.
"The chances of me using my legs again are pretty bleak. Life is short and I intend to honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible," she said.
With such a positive outlook, I have no doubt that Clodagh will overcome all challenges and handicaps that life may throw at her.
we all wish her a speedy recovery.
They went in on June 12 at 6.30pm. The new owners, Natrium, brought the liquidators in to Clerys department store and almost forcibly ejected more than 400 employees.
It was totally unacceptable and despicable behaviour.
It was disrespectful and insulting to the staff and showed utter contempt for any form of civilised industrial relations in the 21st Century. They should be ashamed of themselves.