Friday 20 September 2019

Gardaí's priorities are open to question here

Gardaí’s priorities are open to question here
Gardaí’s priorities are open to question here


Last Wednesday, the Irish Independent reported that a former government minister was being investigated by gardaí amid allegations that he sexually abused children.

The report was manifestly in the public interest in a country where one in five women and one in six men have experienced contact sexual abuse in childhood.

Mindful of the constitutional presumption of innocence and the requirements of due process for all parties, the former minister and the alleged victims were not identified.

The following evening, former government minister Pat Carey resigned from his position as director of elections for Fianna Fáil, while absolutely and unconditionally denying any alleged impropriety that was not attributed to him.

The former teacher, who has stepped down from all public positions, said that he did not know if allegations of abuse published in the media - including subsequent reports on State broadcaster RTE that affirmed the Irish Independent report - related to him.

But he said that given the "unfounded" speculation that had arisen, he took the action to step aside of his own volition and with a heavy heart.

In his statement, Mr Carey said that he was also concerned at comments allegedly attributed to gardaí in various media.

That concern by Mr Carey, who stepped aside from his position of his own volition, has now morphed into a classic 'shoot the messenger' criminal probe into the source of media reports, initiated by Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan.

Criminal investigations by gardaí into alleged leaks by other gardaí have become the hallmark of Ms O'Sullivan's tenure as Garda Commissioner.

This includes a controversial decision to appoint her own husband, Detective Superintendent Jim McGowan, to lead an investigation into alleged leaks of information to journalists, amid serious concerns that reporters' phones are being tapped and monitored.

The real fear with such investigations is that victims of sexual abuse may be deterred from making complaints if the gardaí's investigative priorities are into leaks, instead of matters of substance.

It's time to talk about our mental wellbeing

We are finally acknowledging that we need to take personal responsibility for our wellbeing. We are aware of the obesity crisis and have access to lots of expert information on what we need to do to watch our weight and mind our physical health. We know, whether we practise it or not, that we need to eat wisely and move regularly to stay physically well.

But what about our mental wellbeing?

Although we have started to open up and talk about mental health issues like suicide and depression - dialogue that needs to be fostered and encouraged - we now need to broaden the conversation. We need to acknowledge that mental wellbeing, like physical wellbeing, can require a bit of work. And there are evidence-based strategies from qualified experts for mental health, as there are for physical health. In fact, you cannot separate the two. Mens sana in corpore sano - a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Life will throw us off balance from time to time, but the good news is, we can work at regaining equilibrium. Over the next week in this paper, you will find coping strategies that will help you in this goal.

Irish Independent

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