Diary 13 June 1985 - Arbour Hill riot, IIRS, Christy Moore and Luke Kelly

Tension rises at Arbour Hill

ON 28 MAY A RIOT BROKE out in Arbour Hill prison. One prisoner and four prison officers were badly injured in the fighting. The following day the Department of Jusstice stated that the fighting was between "ordinary" criminals and sex offenders.

For many closely conneccted with the prison, the breakout of fighting did not come as a great surprise. Since the end of April, the prison population has inncreased by 60%. The purpose built education unit was handed over to the prison authorities to accommodate this increase. Teachers in the prison, from the start, felt that this increase could only add to the tensions and unnrest within the prison. The Governor of the prison, Ralph Lee, did not, however, at the time, believe that there would be a problem with overcrowding.

Prior to the 60% rise in the number of prisoners, the balance between "ordinary" criminals, and those conviccted of sex offences, was about equal. According to one teaacher, the guards could control any problems arising, and preeempt any trouble. Now not only has that balance been altered, but the same number of guards are expected to deal with a larger group of prisooners.

The Teachers Union of Ireland, who represent the teaching staff at the prison, issued a statement following the riot. They felt that it could not be said that the lack of education facilities caused the riot. However, the previous existence of proper facilities did help reduce tennsion.

When the education unit was closed, the teaching staff were offered alternative acccommodation. They could use the church, or the 'cage'. Unfortunately, the church cannot always be utilised due to an inadequate number of guards to escort and oversee a classroom in a building away from the main prison complex. The 'cage' is a preefab, enclosed by a high wire grid, which is itself surrounnded by a concrete wall. It lacks basic facilities, and is, according to one teacher, a potential fire hazard.

The Department of Justice verbally promised a resoluution of the problem in time. At the .beginning of May, Jim Dorney, General Seccretary of the TUI sent a letter to Michael Noonan seeking written confirmation of this promise and a date for resumption of full eduucation facilities. To date the union has received no reply.

This is further evidence of the overall lack of communiication between the Departtment and the teachers of which the latter complained when the closures were first announced.

Teaching staff in Arbour Hill have always considered their work to be of great immportance in contributing to the rehabilitation of prisoners. They provide an eleven-month service each year. Before April of this year, 80% of the innmates attended classes volunntarily. Now there are probblems in accommodating the numbers wishing to be taught. Blackboards have yet to arrrive. The old classroom desks are now cell furniture.

The teaching staff will continue to attempt to proovide an education service. They are.siowever, not happy with their present conditions. Unless there is a resolution soon, further trouble is posssible. The teachers will give the Department of Justice time to fulfill their promise of a quick solution. But they will not wait indefinitely.

Cliodna O'Flynn

The Luke Kelly Bridge to the Ballot Box

ENTERTAINER CHRISTY Moore hasn't a snowball's chance in hell of getting eleccted. At least that is the view of Dublin's Lord Mayor Michael 0 'Halloran who reevealed the original insight at the ceremony dedicating the former Ballybough bridge to Luke Kelly last week. Not that Christy has ever indicaated a desire to "go political" but at the height of the festiivities at the bridge Mick told him the bad news anyway, and by all accounts not in a very friendly tone.

What happened was Noel V. Ginnity , the comedian on spotting Christy in the audience listening to the Dubliiners and others playing a few tunes on the bridge suggested he might bring up his bodhran and join them. Christy with a sharp eye on the numerous politicians at the gathering jokingly replied that he wasn't standing for election. Bold Mick , within earshot and obbviously a man under pressure from a tiring year as Dublin's top dog swung around to find out who the smart alec was.

"I might have known it was you," he sez to Christy. "Y ou wouldn't have a hope of getting elected if you stood" he followed up to the crowd around.

The fear that Luke's name is being hijacked by some with ulterior motives was shared by a number of other musiicians and Ronnie Drew made clear his annoyance with the organisers at the short notice given them about the cereemony.

Barney McKenna was unn-able to make it because he was away and three days' notice given to Drew was too short to make contact. Drew was also said to be dissatisfied with the limited guest list for a do in the Mansion g. House after the ceremony. If money was the problem it could have been sorted out on request, he remarked.

Not having heard Michael O Halloran in full voice I cannot say whether he would fill the Olympia or a teleephone box for a gig. But if in the unlikely event of Christy ever taking him up on the challenge it could be' a case of another political prediction going drastically wrong.

IIRS takes stand on neutrality

A NEW CONTRACT BEtween the US Defence Departtment and the IIRS is to be signed within the next week under which the semi-state body will continue to certify products to US military stanndards.

The neW two year contract was finalised between an American Government offiicial and staff at the IIRS in Dublin over' two day's negootiations a fortnight ago.

It follows the expiry of an earlier two-year contract signed in 1983 under which the Institute agreed to certify components produced by multinationals in Ireland to see if they measured up to US military standards.

Members of the Women for Disarmament Group who have complained' to unions and management about the contract being renewed prootested outside the IIRS's preemises, while talks were in proogress.

Firms hoping to sell commponents and devices to the ·US military must first have them tested to the accepted US military standard. This standard is recognised worlddwide and. the existence of an approved testing organisation here is seen as an added inncentive for foreign companies to set up in Ireland.

Only a handful of staff at the IIRS are involved in the work and while it geneerates revenue, the sums innvolved are not believed to be vast.

This work has been desscribed in the Dail by John Bruton, the Minister responnsible for the IIRS as being of an "administrative and techhnical character" not involving any defence commitment.

The Women for Disarmaament Group told the IIRS that the work on behalf of the US military was underrmining our neutrality and was not in the interests of the country.

Tim Hastings

Beyond the Pale - Pimps, Donkeys, Cows and Agricultural Siestas

By E.N Kelly

A REPORT OF A WALSH Island man's trip to the 1984 Fianna Fail Ard Fhels was the subject of a libel case against the Leinster Ex press, the very same paper tells us. Mr Patrick Delaney had claimed £15,000 damages for libel over an article which appeared in the "Backstage" column of the paper in April 1984. He claimed that the article immplied that he had acquired a ticket for the 1984 Fianna Fail Ard Fheis by improper means.

Mr Frank Callanan BL, counsel for Delaney, said that it was implied in the article that his client had received the ticket "from a pimp in Roscrea" and that he had stayed in "an air-conditioned suite" at the Burlington Hotel.

Mr Delaney in evidence stated that he resigned as secretary of Walsh Island Cumann of Fianna Fail after a disagreement in 1983.

He attended the 1984 Ard Fheis on an observer's card which he had received from Mr Edmond Kearney whom he had known in Ogra Fianna Fail. Mr Delaney said that • when he read the article about being at the Ard Fheis "I was very angry that I was being associated with a pimp."

He said that after the arrticle appeared "people were suggesting that I had a business on the .side, that I had prostitutes."

Mr Austin O'Brien told the court that he attended the Ard Fheis and shared a room with Mr Delaney. On Saturrday night in the bar Mr Delaney pointed out a man in a tweed jacket and said he was a pimp. Later on they were joined by Brian Cowan TD. Again Delaney pointed out the pimp in the tweed jacket. Mr Cowan replied that the identified "pimp" was in fact a respectable member of Fianna Fail from Roscrea.

Summing up Judge O'Mallley said there was nothing very serious about the commplaint. He said that it would take "a very dirty mind" to combine the elements of a pimp from Roscrea, the Burrlington Hotel and an airrconditioned suite to make a significant slur on Mr Delaaney's character.

Judge 0 'Malley said that he would give minimal damaages to the plaintiff. He said that a hundred years ago that would have been one shilling. He would award the plaintiff the modern day equivalent of that sum, £5.

It would appear that some people in East Mayo are tryying to emulate Caligula, the Roman Emperor who had his horse elected to the Senate.

An attempt to nominate a donkey to stand in the local elections in East Mayo drew a political backlash with a diffference according to the Connacht Telegraph. The atttempt was made by a group in the Kiltirnagh area to run the animal for the County Council for publicity reasons. These reasons were unspeciified.

The candidate - Jack Ass - failed to win the approval of the election authorities. County 'secretary, Mr Paddy Fahey, was unimpressed when informed that a horse was once elected to a City Counncil in an American State. He made it clear that such an occurrence would not happpen here. "The nomination procedure is straightforward in this country. There is no loophole to allow the crazy situation of an animal appearring on a ballot sheet," he is reported as saying.

Another animal tail (?) appears in the Tipperary Star. A cow which expired on its way to slaughter was the subbject of an unsuccessful action at Roscrea District Court. Farmer Edward O'Grady was claiming £300 damages from Roscrea Meat Products Ltd for negligence. The court was told that in March of 1983, O'Grady's cow was under veterinary supervision for bronchitis. The vet innformed the farmer that reguular visits to the cow would be costly and that the best thing he could do was to get rid of the animal. Mr O'Grady said that he took the cow in a horse box to Roscrea Meats. The animal was unloaded and placed in a crush with other animals.

"We were looking at other cattle when we heard a com motion; we went back in to where the cow was. The cows had come out from where they were held and a man was trying to get them in some other place with an electric prodder. He gave the cow a dart and it lay there; she was not able to get up." All this is according to Mr O'Grady.

O'Grady said he told the man with the "prod" that the cow would die but the man is alleged to have replied that "there was no fear of it. "

Mr O'Grady denied that he had brought in a dying cow an d had hoped to have it slaughtered before it dropped dead. In evidence for Roscrea Meats, Kevin Seacy  said he was in charge of the layerage department on that occasion. The trailer had been reversed and the ramp let down. The animal staggered out and he told 0 'Grady that something was wrong. The farmer replied that there might be someething wrong with its lungs. Seacy told 0 'Grady that the cow could not be insured and was there at O'Grady's own risk.

Describing the demise, Seacy said "the cow was standing in the crush; I tagged it and opened the gate at the other end of the crush.

She walked out into the adjacent pen, gave two or three unmerciful roars and just dropped. She was dying on her feet."

The case was dismissed.

A report in the Leinster Leader on research carried out in the USA suggests that our farmers might consider at least one daily siesta. Acccording to the report, research carried out suggested that a farmer should have a break every two or three hours to "avoid excessive fatigue and reduce accident risks." Reesearch says that farmer faatigue is the chief cause of farm accidents and suggests that "the farmers should get a way from it all for ten or fifteen minutes every couple of hours." It is suggested in the report that agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries with "five times the death rate of other inndustries. "

The report goes on to suggest that spouses should check out their husbands regularly to see that they get their break and bring food at regular intervals to the work location. "You're burning up more calories, so you should eat more. If you don't fuel yourself you're going to get a burn out," the report adds.

Phew! These cattle can be a big strain.

"The Lord Jesus . . . is a scandal," according to Liam Naughton, Fianna Fail TD. His comments were reported in the Roscommon Herald following the quarterly meetting of Roscommon County Council.

The comment followed Chairman Michael T. Mittchell's failure to secure a Fine Gael nomination in the forthhcoming elections. Mitchell took the unprecedented acction of declaring the meeting adjourned so that he could leave the council chamber to nominate himself for the conntest as an Independent. The suggestion to adjourn had been made in jest by the King of Jesters himself, Sean Dooherty TD. Sean had reminded Mr Mitchell that time was running out for him to hand in his nomination.

After the resumption of the meeting, Councillor Paddy Concannon wished Mitchell the best of luck. A nonnplussed Mr Mitchell replied:

"I intend to be back here again on June 20th. Don't be worrying at all about me."

The Ballyforan District Court was told recently that a defendant had a "nervous disposition", was "scared of gardai and petrified of docctors" and that was why he had refused to supply a blood or urine sample when it was requested of him, according to the Roscommon Chammpion.

Superintendent John Shea told the court that the defenndant had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving but refused to provide a blood or urine sample. Soliciitor for Mr Egan told the court that his client had only two pints that night and had he complied with the request that night he would have been all right. Judge Neilan did not agree. "The day had come" he told the court, "when monetary penallties or suspensions were not sufficient deterrents for drink related offences. ' He told the defendant that if he appeared before him again within the next twelve months "it would not be losing your licence that we will be talking about, but losing your freedom." He told Egan that he could go to Mountjoy for three or six months. Mr Egan was dissqualified from. holding a driving licence for one year.

Councillors to "act responsibly" shock

THE GOVERNMENT HAS done a classic U-turn on the question of local authority charges. Back in April 1983, the then Minister for the Ennvironment Dick Spring introoduced a bill empowering County Managers to raise money from localcharges''with councillors having no say.

But, hey presto, comelocal elections time the new Minisster, Liam Kavanagh, announnces that local authorities will become development agencies and everything else - and councillors will have the power.to impose local charges.

The nasty question of local authority financing is relegaated' to the back page of the Minister's booklet on the new arrangements for local authoorities. And then it commands only three paragraphs.

The new plan for your local county councilor local authority was drawn up by a task force of ministers under the chairmanship of Minister. of State Fergus O'Brien.

The emphasis on the deecentralisation of services ˜such as grants etc was thought up following consultations with the various government departments. When it was put to a Fine Gael handler if he would trust local councillors to run finances in an orderly way, he replied that it was a "chicken and egg'situation ".

The quality of local councillors had gone down since the rates have been removed, he said. When the lads in the chambers around the country realise the buck stops with them rather than the county manager, they will see the light and "act responsibly".

Are the days of councilllors banging their' fists on tables and urging non CQ" operation .. with officials unnlessa certain spending scheI;l1e waspassed, gone for ever?

In the words of the Minisster's review the new style councils will have to endeaavour by all reasonable means to operate efficiently and give good value for money, Is Ballyrnagashery gone for eyer?

Tim Hastings