Courage of children in the shadow of evil
Most of us, fortunately, have not been "touched by evil". But for the two families involved in the rape case we report on today, that chilling, never-ending reality is something they live with each and every day. And yet in the midst of the living nightmare there was one life-affirming moment when the father of one of the girls told the Central Criminal Court that he was not seeking revenge, adding that his daughter's "dignity and bravery take my breath away".
Put so eloquently it was the only positive note sounded in an otherwise harrowing case.
On an autumn day last year, the two innocent little girls, aged nine and six, were lured from the street where they were playing in a midlands town and into a nearby flat for 20 minutes and subjected to the most unimaginable outrage at the hands of a rapist.
When the details were outlined to Judge Paul Carney, one of the country's most experienced judges, he remarked that for 20 years he has refrained from using the words "the worse case ever" in relation to some of the appalling acts he has heard while on the bench. But the unspeakable crimes outlined against these two little girls surely qualified for that sad title.
"We live daily and nightly with this new world created by this man – it's so unfair," said one of the fathers.
It isn't something that will ever go away, "it is a living fear now that life could get worse", he added, as he looked forward to what affect this will have had on his daughter.
The mother of one of the girls told of the effect it has had on her: "I feel I am living a nightmare I can't wake up from ... inside I am slowly dying."
That one man could bring so much pain and suffering to so many lives in such a short time is frightening. Evil is the only description that covers it.
We can only hope that even if it never goes away, the pain caused by these truly awful events will grow duller with time and that both girls and their parents may find solace in the support of family and friends.
IT IS ALL ABOUT THE DETAILS IN HEALTHCARE OVERHAUL
HEALTH Minister James Reilly's proposal for universal healthcare funded by mandatory insurance is not just "the most fundamental reform of the system in the State's history". In fact, nothing like it has been tried in this country ever.
Dr Reilly argues that the current 'non-system' is "unjust, inefficient and unduly expensive".
Dr Reilly said any attempts to duck out of change will just mean higher taxes and deteriorating services.
The usually embattled Dr Reilly has taken the offensive and put out some positive arguments.
That contrasted with the discouraging tales of conflict and doubt emanating from Government for the past three weeks.
One of the major problems is that this debate is taking place in a vacuum.
We lack some very important facts like how much can we expect to pay for this mandatory health insurance and what kind of services will we receive in return?
For some people who are lucky enough to have well-paid work and still afford health insurance, the new proposal might be seen as a step backwards.
They would lose tax relief on their insurance and the chance to get swifter access to non-emergency care.
Others, who are currently covered by a medical card will remain fretful that they may find themselves with less cover.
And all of us have good reasons from recent history to dread the risk of runaway costs quickly becoming a feature of the new regime. All of this tells us that we urgently need two things: more detail and less bickering in and around Government Buildings.