I feel I’ve been sold a pig in a poke this weekend.
I bought The Irish Times and turned to the Weekend Review.
I mean that I got excited by the prospect of a decent bit of review and analysis by Carl O’Brien. He got a whole page around a wonderful photograph by Patrick Brown jnr.
I looked at all the text and relished what I was going to read. I was in need of some insightful comment about the horrible proceedings that have dominated my mind this week.
Entitled “Trail of questions”, Carl O’Brien and his editor squandered the opportunity, in my opinion.
The piece is a useful summary of what happened.
It includes quotes from the adult Dunnes, detailing their funeral instructions.
Quotes from Mary Dunne, his mother
Quotes from Bridget Dunne, his sister
Quotes from Jim McDaid TD
Quotes from Catherine O’Brien & other neighbours and locals
Quotes from Sebastian Dunne, one of Adrian Dunne’s brothers
Quotes from Declan Coogan, from the Irish Association of Social Workers
Quotes from Dr Tony Bates, a senior clinical psychologist.
Quotes from the local parish priest, Fr Bill Cosgrave.
The journalist, Carl O’Brien, assembled all this in a professional style.
This is what he inserted himself:
(and I quote it because I am so disappointed in it…)
“The Question Of whether State authorities could have done more to protect the family, meanwhile, is an imponderable one…”
He lists five questions:
“Should the Garda have intervened earlier?
“Did they need to wait for more information from health authorities?
“Were the potential risks facing the family sufficient to merit their immediate placement in care?
“Could both authorities have communicated better?
“Could anything have been done to prevent the family’s deaths?
And then he writes
“WE ARE NEVER LIKELY TO RECEIVE CLEAR OR SATISFACTORY ANSWERS…”
(my caps, my bold)
Oh what a thing to say. What a preposterous thing to write. Purile. Infantile.
We need adult thinking. Serious thoughtful stuff. Not, what I feel is, rubbish thinking.
These are good questions. They and others deserve to be investigated in order to help improve things for the living. We need to learn from these dreadful deaths because this sort of incident (not in this precise form) will happen again. Disturbed people are living in our communities. People in need are out there right now, on the edge.
Some people will tip over the edge and be on the verge of killing themselves and their children. This is as clear to me as my expectation that the sun will rise in the morning.
We should expect to receive clear and satisfactory answers.
This journalist, unwittingly I hope, is influencing public opinion and other opinion formers to expect less than we are entitled to expect from our public representatives, and authorities.
Whoever heads the investigation into this tragedy better do a good job, better find out things for us, better confront us with the information as to what was the culture that facilitated this result.
What were the habits of thinking and acting that influenced the outcome?
That’s the sort of thing we need to know, if we are to have any chance of preventing such a disaster in future. The fact that this event happened so soon after another tragedy in Wexford does not mean that there is no hope for the future. It should re-double the anger of those in the community who will not accept the status quo, who will not accept that what was done was good enough.
The editor of the Weekend Review should, in my opinion, be ashamed of such defeatist journalism. I expect more of The Irish Times.
I will not accept such writing in such an important place.
I will go on buying the paper because I want it to reform itself and I want those two responsible journalists to be embarrassed at how they missed an important opportunity to say something useful.
It is not enough to be comforting. Now is the time for firm resolution because there are real people depending on how we handle this. Not all of them are adults. Children’s lives are at stake.
Come on The Irish Times, do a lot better. Somehow find a way to lead the fight for clear answers.