Sunday 17 December 2017

Horror case forced us to ask: How much do we know about our own society?

Remy Farrell, the defence barrister for convicted murderer Graham Dwyer, said films would be made and books would be written about the Elaine O'Hara case.

Human nature being what it is, no doubt the first pages of scripts and books are already being composed. There hasn't been a case like it in living memory for holding the country in such a horrified thrall.

Notwithstanding her sad and terrible death, the reality of what happened to Elaine O'Hara makes books like Fifty Shades of Grey seem like baby bedtime reading.

The often salacious discussions of the actions of the two main participants seemed to suggest that it was not only Graham Dwyer who was on trial, but Elaine and her desperate life choices.

We focused on her mental health issues, her loneliness, her lack of confidence, and tried to tell ourselves that what had happened to this woman was rare indeed.

it could never happen to the likes of us. Occasionally people are killed by others, yes; but the degree of sexual sadism that emerged in evidence in this case was new to us all, wasn't it? It just wasn't normal.


As for Dwyer? Well, obviously he's a monster - a "sadistic and brutal pervert", as he was described during the trial.

But you'd never know from looking at him, would you? He seemed the very definition of respectability - a loving husband, good father, professional job, lovely home in the leafy, sleepy suburbs of Foxrock. He could be everyone's next door neighbour, the bloke on the side of the pitch on a Sunday, watching his kids play football, the man chatting to you over a pint in the local.

But for a set of coincidences, he very nearly got away, not just with acts of cruelty and viciousness which most of us can't comprehend, but with actual murder.

Which begs the question: how many other Graham Dwyers are out there? Dwyer has said he met Elaine on website Alt.com, which carries BDSM and alternative lifestyle personal ads.

According to the website, it has 28,628 Irish members.

Two other men had the bad luck to be called by the prosecution and told the court that they too had had contact with Elaine on Alt.com.

There's nothing wrong with a bit of kinky sex between willing, consenting adults, and it was obvious that these men are not a threat to women.

The Dwyer case has shown us how easy it is for evil people to manipulate mentally vulnerable women.

How many "sexual submissives" are being forced to do the will of sadists up and down the country? The sort of horror we heard Dwyer put Elaine through can only be described as both physical and psychological torture.


A woman I know used to find men on one of these sex sites. After contact she would arrange to meet them in the Dublin mountains for an afternoon of sex and debauchery. When the body of Elaine was found, I warned her to stop.

I'm not sure if she did or not, but I hope so. The men she was meeting weren't perverted, anti-social weirdos. They were ordinary (mainly) married men; the local plumbers, bankers or solicitors of the community.

This is life in Ireland in the 21st Century. This is Middle-Ireland as it is today.

And be honest. How many women in the country, while listening to the reams of excruciating evidence of Dwyer's revolting infidelities, have stopped to ask themselves: How well do I know my partner, his friends, the guy at the local shop?

How many women have been too afraid even to countenance the question?

Gemma Dwyer has known her husband for nearly 20 years. They were at college together in Bolton Street, Dublin. They shared the same birthday, September 13.

She had absolutely no idea that the father of her two children was a misogynistic, murdering psychopath.

One consequence of the Dwyer trial is that it has highlighted the fact that there is a thriving sexual underground operating in our midst.

Most of it may be legitimate fun among equals.

However, it's likely that some of it is also comprised of sad, lonely women (and men) looking for love who are being ruthlessly exploited.

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