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Friday 15 December 2017

Anna Nolan: It's the clerical cowards, not victims, who should leave

I was on the plane over to Spain a few days ago and I sat beside a really lovely couple. I'd say they were married at least a couple of decades but still, every time she said something funny, his eyes lit up.

We started discussing Cardinal Brady and whether he should resign or not, and the husband looked at me and his eyes began to well up. I could see he was angry. "They should all bloody go," he said.

But 10 minutes after he had given his verdict on Cardinal Brady, he went on to tell me that he and his wife had just had the best novena in their local church in Coolock. It was as if they were telling me about seeing Riverdance for the first time.

They loved every minute of the novena, and they loved all the priests who said the Masses. After each Mass, the priest got a round of applause.

This faithful couple are in a position that thousands of Irish Catholics find themselves in -- happy with their faith but bitterly disappointed with those who should have nurtured and protected it.

I remember hearing about these atrocities years ago, and it seemed Ireland was the only place in the world in which the clergy had a disturbing, damaging attraction to children.

But on the news reports from around the world this week, I saw the growing number of victims from other countries. Priests in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico and in the Pope's former diocese in Germany have been accused of mistreating children. Clerical child abuse is not an Irish problem, as we thought for so many years, it's a global institutional problem.

Only a couple of days ago a Brazilian priest was removed from office after having allegedly been secretly filmed having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy. Two other priests are also under investigation.

It seems victims around the world are doing what we started doing over 15 years ago. Colm O'Gorman, Christine Buckley, Andrew Madden and the other Davids should all stand proud and tall that they decided to take on the Goliath that is the Catholic Church.

They should know that when it seemed like they were the only ones, they have inspired others around the world to be strong like them, and to tell their stories.

The Pope, in his letter to the Irish faithful, said he didn't want victims to turn away from the Church. I imagine, like the couple I met on the plane, victims have no intention of turning away from their Church.

The people who need to leave the Church are those who have been cowards, who haven't admitted their failings to protect children -- whether that's last week, or 40 years ago. The people who need to go are the ones who should never have been there in the first place.

Sandra ought to get shot of Jesse James

Jesse James, the notorious American outlaw, gang leader, train and bank robber and murderer, was shot in the back of his head, supposedly when he was polishing the dust off a picture frame. His widow was left in poverty.

No, I'm not talking about Sandra Bullock's cheating husband, because there is no way Bullock will die alone or in poverty.

She's too talented, too cute and hopefully too over the man, also called Jesse James, who has recently apologised for his shenanigans with another woman.

I'm seriously considering doing a weekly piece on men who have been linked to women outside of their marriages.

There's plenty of material there at the moment. Tiger Woods, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Jesse James -- and, of course, the Sam Mendes and Kate Winslet separation. Now there is no mention of an affair with Sam and Kate, but speculation is rife that the director was spending more and more time with the beautiful 27-year-old actress Rebecca Hall.

Of course what we all want is to see the lyin', cheatin', son-of-a-gun Jesse James kicked to the kerb.

But I wonder if there will be pictures of Sandra giving Jesse a big ol' hug by a pool in Dubai, John-and-Toni-Terry-style -- or will she ask him to polish some dusty picture frames, so to speak? We shall see.

SuBo tartan is certainly worth a fling

We've all heard of celebrities bringing out their perfume range -- from Sarah Jessica Parker to Scarlett Johansson.

But it seems Susan Boyle, right, is about to bring out her new range of ... tartan.

Susan is planning to register a design with the Scottish Register Of Tartans. So if you fancy, you too can wear Susan's special design while singing along to I Dream A Dream. What a clever marketing coup -- I'd rather a Susan kilt any day than a Boyle eau de perfume.

Never let me be a party pooper on Paddy's Day

SO I spent my St Patrick's night in a pub in Spain. It was a little piece of Ireland right outside my hotel. Larry and Barry sang rousing republican songs, the crowd wore their huge green hats and I stayed for 23 minutes.

There was a scowling woman sitting beside the singers, who looked like she was out of Shameless. She looked like she hated the revellers and the musicians and wanted to fight with the bar woman.

And as I left the bar I thought, dear God, please don't let me end up being that woman. I promise to smile and enjoy all my Paddy's Days from now on.

Why so few great women?

There is a new programme being made by Tyrone Productions for RTE called Ireland's Greatest. A list of 40 people has been drawn up and, to my surprise, only three women appear. They are Mary Robinson, Adi Roche and Sonia O'Sullivan.

I spoke to the head of Tyrone, John McHugh, who said that the list was compiled in a fair manner, conducted by an MRBI poll.

I cannot believe that so few women are up there. What about Countess Markievicz or the designer Eileen Gray? Why isn't Mary McAleese on the list, or Lady Gregory or Nano Nagle? If Joe Dolan is on the list, why isn't Mary Black or Sinead O'Connor? If Paul McGrath is there, why isn't Katie Taylor (pictured)?

It seems we care little for the women who went before us; who paved the way for education, equality, art, drama and politics.

These people on the list were chosen by a random poll and therefore the names we see are the ones we know best. The women I mention are obviously not important enough to be on our radar. How sad.

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