Monthly Archives: August 2012

Predator is likely to be freed before appeal

PROPER order.

That will be most people’s reaction to news that the DPP is appealing the sentence handed down to Anthony Lyons.

There was outrage last month when the businessman, who sexually assaulted a woman, had five and half years of a six-year jail term suspended. The public anger at the sentence was also fuelled by the fact that Lyons was ordered to pay €75,000 to the victim, who did not ask for compensation.

The public was entitled to ask whether, if Lyons was not a “man of means”, as the judge said, he would have been treated so leniently?

In the aftermath of the sentence it was clear that many people, not least the victim’s family, felt that justice was not served in the case. “A disgrace” was the simple, accurate, description offered by relatives.

It’s hard to disagree. Lyons rugby tackled the woman to ground in a tree-lined, darkened area on Griffith Avenue as she was walking home and sexually assaulted her.

Lyons’ sentence is so short that, farcically, it is likely that he will be freed before the Court of Criminal Appeal hears the DPP’s appeal. In order for justice to be seen to be done, this case must be expedited through the court lists.

Sentencing Lyons, Judge Desmond Hogan ruled that he was “hitherto of good character, is well regarded and is unlikely to reoffend.”

The Court of Criminal Appeal judges may have a different opinion.

This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, August 15, 2012

Katie’s world class…so why do we patronise her?

‘SHE fights like a man’.

That’s a compliment, I think, to Katie Taylor, Olympic medallist and world champion boxer. And it’s one that has popped up again and again this week.

Because, of course, we expect our female boxers to be dainty little diggers, checking their make-up at the bell.

We don’t expect them to fire flurries of punches and withstand heavy bodyblows.

And we’re not used to seeing them in a boxing ring, usually the preserve of swaggering and staggering men.

Katie Taylor fights like a man? She fights a better technical bout that most professional male boxers.

And she certainly fights better than most men I’ve see in action.

She’s proved herself as a world champion four times over, and her London performances are the icing on the cake.

And yet some folk continue to patronise the Wicklow woman.

Again and again, at the age of 26, she’s the Irish ‘girl’. Have you heard Paddy Barnes described as the Irish ‘boy’?

More than once there’s been a reference to her father Pete as Katie’s ‘daddy’. Ah, bless, a daddy watching his little girl trying her best. It’s heartwarming, isn’t it?

This cutesie crap is, of course, a million miles away from the reality of the professional training grind, the hours of mentoring and prep that the two Taylors put in, the clinical focus that’s yielded a slew of world championships and put Taylor on an Olympic podium.

But keep an ear out for it this evening – I guarantee it will slip into coverage of the gold medal bout.

But why is there this reaction among a minority of spectators?

Perhaps it’s Katie’s appearance.

We don’t expect champion boxers to be well-spoken, photogenic women from Bray.

Perhaps it’s her youthful looks.

But, at 26, Katie has already been boxing for 14 years, longer than many professional careers. Before that she lined out for local soccer teams. Maybe she played “like a boy” then?

Perhaps some people patronise Katie Taylor and her fellow female boxers because we’re just not used to seeing female boxing at the Olympics. The 2012 Games are the first time the sport’s featured, after all.

Whatever the reason it’s high time that people drop the cliches, the “isn’t she great for a girl” rubbish and applaud Katie Taylor the athlete, the winning Olympian.

Katie Taylor doesn’t fight like a man. She doesn’t fight like a woman either. She fights like Katie Taylor.

And few other boxers can do that.

This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, August 9, 2012

Water mess…when will the Council come clean?

WHAT’S in the water?

That’s the question that’s been on the parched lips of thousands of unfortunate Dublin householders since last Sunday night –  and 48 hours on they’re still waiting for an answer.

But they won’t get one from the City Council, whose spokesperson says: “We are not naming the bacteria.”

It’s not e-coli. And it’s not lead. So what is it? Does the Council know? – it’s had two days to check, two days in which the problem has spread like, well, a contagion, from 16 to 1,400 houses.

Despite not knowing what’s contaminated the supply householders are still permitted to wash and bathe in the water.

Just don’t drink it, they say. Don’t worry folks – the only thing harder to swallow than the tap water is the Council’s assurances.

This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, August 7, 2012

Dr Reilly’s on hols – and sticking his head in the sand

HEALTH Minister James Reilly’s on his holidays at the moment.

It appears that he was taking a break through April, May, June and July too – if letters sent by HSE boss Cathal Magee are anything to go by.

The minister seems to have been asleep at the wheel as the outgoing health chief Magee wrote a series of increasingly urgent letters to the Department of Health over months on the HSE deficit.

As Magee repeatedly asked for policy directions on the HSE’s deteriorting financial position he got few, if any useful answers.

In April he stated that he needed guidance from the Department of Health on how overspending would be financed.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.

In May he again asked for the Department’s guidance, this time on what activities hospitals should cut back on to make savings.

In June the HSE boss wrote that he had been waiting for a response on how to deal with financial challenges since February.

The HSE boss received replies to his letters. These stated that officials would draw up proposals to be considered by the Minister.

Finally, in June, the HSE was told that an independent expert had been commissioned and, meanwhile, it was up to the HSE to cut its own costs.

So, after six months of spiralling overruns the HSE is now in an even worse position – and Minister Reilly is nowhere to be seen.

The HSE is still overspending and its managers still want to know what services they should cut to stop the system haemorrhaging money.

Why has the Minister for Health not confronted the potentially catastrophic cash crisis in the HSE? It was known about since late 2011.

Is he running scared? Or does he find it easier to stick his head in the sand?

 This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, August 2, 2012