Sunday 22 September 2019

GAA's 'lads culture' is damaging to women

Stock picture
Stock picture


Is it prudish for a basic expectation of decency to precede social occasions? Have we gone past the point whereby to go out to enjoy oneself must involve the humiliation or debasement of someone else?

If the answer in both cases is yes, then we urgently need to have a conversation about what has become acceptable in what we refer to as "society".

The scenes beamed around the world of the function involving Ballyragget GAA club and their trophy, which degenerated into what looked like debauched and lewd behaviour, raise grim questions. The men, both young and old, all have mothers, sisters, girlfriends or wives.

Had they stopped for a minute to wonder how these women would feel about such depraved scenes?

The men must surely be ashamed of themselves. It is the women alone at night at bus stops or in train stations around the country, who reap the whirlwind of such objectification. For the GAA to shrug the controversy off on the grounds that it was a "private party" doesn't cut it at all.

The sporting organisation thoroughly deserves its unique place in Irish life. It is regarded with good reason as representing all that is good about the country. But how can it not censure and condemn actions that clearly demean women and bring the organisation into disrepute?

Let us not pretend that this could not have happened in a rugby or football club. The unchecked and increasingly misogynistic and irresponsibly sexualised blurring of boundaries that the untrammelled use of social media affords multiplies the harm.

The impulse is to share every intimate moment on some platform or another without filtering it through the most basic test of asking "Am I hurting someone?" is causing serious harm. And in the main, it is women - who make up the majority of our population - who are suffering.

A "lads' culture" is becoming all-pervasive.

It doesn't matter whether the "lads" are 15 or 50, normal standards of respect and humanity should apply.

Technology may have no borders but the values that we hope to pass on to our children must.

We have a massive responsibility to make sure that the exploitation of women must never be allowed to become the new normal.

Not enough substance from Varadkar on banks

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar turned up for yet another photo opportunity yesterday.

Unfortunately, he didn't add substance to his leadership style on the tracker mortgage scandal.

Mr Varadkar rejected criticism that the Government has taken no action against the banks. Yet he effectively conceded this point by saying the Government is only willing to take action if the banks don't meet the deadline for the restoration of tracker mortgages and compensation for those homeowners who were put through so much hardship.

What the public was looking for on this issue was leadership with purpose and a reassurance that the Government was willing to stand firm against the banks, which the taxpayer saved through the bank guarantee and bailout. They didn't get it.

Meanwhile, the treatment of Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness makes a mockery of procedures in the Dáil and his own party's farcical parliamentary standards. Mr McGuinness performed a significant public service as chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee in highlighting the plight of those wrongly denied a tracker.

Yet he had to rely upon a fellow TD giving up their time to let him speak in a Dáil debate on the scandal. Fianna Fáil chief whip Michael Moynihan ought to get his priorities right.

Irish Independent

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