News Billy Keane

Tuesday 23 September 2014

The people knew of the slaughter of the innocents back then, and we know now

Published 16/06/2014 | 02:30

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There are no names of the infants used in medical studies

Did you ever get sick of yourself? Have there been days when you just want to be stored up on a shelf or plugged out from the drip of small and annoying intrusions that take up most of the space in your head?

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I was just wondering because for the last few days I've had enough of me. I'm turning into a crank. Drivers annoy me when I can't get out of my car space. It's like as if they're roaring out the window, 'it's my road and get off it'.

I wouldn't mind, but we own the road, the family that is, or more specifically the mother. The council named it after my dad about 15 years ago. So strictly speaking the rude drivers are the ones who are doing all the trespassing. We should be entitled to charge a toll. The council might not agree.

But why do I let myself get annoyed when I can do absolutely nothing about the drivers who have fenced me in on my own road? The few minutes' delay will make no difference to the state of the nation and I'm always late anyway, even when I start out in loads of time.

There's a danger I'll turn into one of those grumpy old men who is always giving out about young people having sex. They used to come into the pub when I was a young lad. I was going to tell the cranky oul' lads to 'take it out on your missus who signed up to be annoyed when she married you.'

Then they ask me to turn on the TV for the news. The news should never be put on in pubs. It's too depressing for fun places. I lost a customer one time by refusing to put on the news. "What are you going to do about it anyway?" I asked. "Are you going to buy a one-way ticket to Iraq and jump in front of a tank or what?" That was the last I saw of him but now after years of exposure I'm turning into a crank.

I'm getting sick to the death of Tutankhamun the boy king and all the documentaries about how he died, and did he have a dose of the clap, or did he fall off his chariot or was he poisoned or did he die from eating a bad burger? So there you are watching the history of death, fairly sure of the fact that some day the undertaker will be giving you a wash and tying a knot in your tie even though you never wear one in real life. There's no escaping Tutankhamun documentaries or cookery shows. I know all I have to do is switch channels but I can't. It's as if I'm hooked on being annoyed.

We now have more celebrity chefs than we have mothers cooking home dinners. Point a camera at some plumpish sweet-talking lad with a spatula and he's a celeb chef. There's a glut. We need a licensing system.

There has to be some sort of regulatory authority to oversee the lack of accreditation or validation. Like the one they have for the taxis. You wouldn't have a heart surgeon becoming a celebrity heart surgeon without passing loads of exams. Christian Barnard, the heart surgeon who carried out the world's first transplant, didn't just buy a stethoscope and start opening up patients – he had to pass 20 years of exams.

I'm so annoyed with myself for being annoyed. I mean, who cares if there are 50,000 celebrity chefs in Ireland? Although I suppose they may be killing off loads of us. There you are late at night and on comes some lad cooking lobster in Armagnac with truffles in a fig compote with a herb crust, or should that be an herb crust? So off you go to the chipper for a big feed.

Just now I got to thinking as to the real reasons why we allow the inconsequential to ruin our thought processes. Seriously.

I met this old man back in the famine graveyard, on the verge of Listowel. There are thousands of famine victims buried in the one-acre plot. The old man was doing the Stations of the Cross.

"I often come here to say my few prayers and to tell you the truth I wouldn't mind being buried here to keep him company." The old man's story is about his stillborn brother who was buried by his mother somewhere on the acre.

I'm sure people knew about the burials of children in mass graves by the institutions. Ireland is too small for the successful keeping of secrets. And I'm certain our ancestors were far too busy thinking about their own problems to find space for the real issues. It could be the Irish of days past did think about the fate of the children who died and were dumped, but did nothing about it.

I started out to write a light piece about growing old crankily, and it was only half-way through that it dawned on me the reason why we worry so much about small stuff is to make sure there is no space for the big stuff.

There are many causes today that need fixing such as the second partition of Ireland. We have ghettos in our country which really are huge institutions and the kids are suffering there. The walls may not be as high as those that enclosed the single mothers but there are non-physical, invisible barriers. The odds on a child being happy can change in the space of two or three bus stops.

So in 50 years time, when the shock/horror starts up at what is happening to our kids in 2014 in deprived areas, where kids live in war zones, we can't say we didn't know, because we do. We stand too close to ourselves.

The people of Ireland knew of the slaughter of the innocents back then, and we know now. They knew what was happening and it happened because they let it happen. We can blame the church and we can blame the State but let no one say 'I did not know what was going on in 2014'.

We can help by going into the partitioned areas and helping out with the kids. It's as easy as that. There are many who will facilitate you, such as the Vincent de Paul.

A mass movement starts off with a movement of one.

Irish Independent

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