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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 29, 2009 @ 10:09 am

    Roman Polanski and the Ryan Report

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Somebody please explain what is the difference between Roman Polanski and the sex abusers, clerical and otherwise, who have been the subject of the Ryan Report as well as innumerable court cases and other investigations in this country and elsewhere over recent years?


                             Roman Polanski: under arrest

    There is no doubt the man has talent. Many have admired various movies he has made and, of course, he won an Oscar for The Pianist.

    Does that excuse his admitted paedophile act with a 13-year-old? It was a long time ago, but so were many of the cases we read about in the newspaper every other day.

    The past has finally caught up with him and he has been arrested in Zurich on an extradition warrant. And the great and the good are out in force to call for his release.

    So let me get this right: surely these people are not saying that, if you are deemed to have artistic talent, you can do or say what you like? Surely they would not suggest that the mistake all those Christian Brothers and child-molesting priests made was, they didn’t have a exhibition of their wistful landscape paintings in the School Hall?


     And while I’m at it, what about Tommy Tiernan who spewed out a volley of anti-Semitic so-called “humour” in recent weeks. There is, of course, a world of difference between actions and words and the remarks of the comedian, however offensive, cannot be equated with what Polanski did and there is no suggestion here to that effect.

    Tiernan is undoubtedly talented but does that excuse his foray into the sphere that brought us the Nazis, the Holocaust and previous centuries of anti-Jewish persecution?

    Yet it seems Mr Tiernan has his defenders, quite a few of them, because he is considered a talented stand-up comedian. If he had launched a similar tirade about, say, Palestinians or gay people or women, it is a safe bet that his shows would be picketed and you would probably not see him on TV for a few months if not years. But the Jews are not fashionable: they never were, it seems.

    Tommy Tiernan should apologise: he is letting down the good name of this country. On his website (click here)   he says he is “greatly upset” by the reaction to his rant which was taken “out of context”. But he doesn’t apologise. Proud man, our Tommy.

    He should consider the Jewish people and others who are equally, if not more, upset by this epsiode which contributes to the restoration – whatever his protestations and professed intentions - of the vile cancer of anti-Semitism to contemporary discourse among impressionable young people. At this time of economic crisis it is particularly dangerous and disturbing. He basically seeks what used to be called a “fool’s pardon” because he was in comic mode but it’s too serious for that.

    • robespierre says:

      Interestingly Deaglán whether you meant to or not you have alighted upon what I believe to be the core issue of any discussion of Polanksi. It is a Freudian one of the impact his early childhood in Auschwitz had on the adult. I am fairly certain that the scene in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is based on an admission by Polanski that he hid for hours as the camp was being abandoned in the tanks underneath the latrines in urine and human excrement.

      All this while undoubtedly having an effect on the individual does not excuse evil behaviour. Certainly, the effect of the kidnapping and killing of his wife by the Manson gang must have imposed a further burden of grief on him. Still, however, this does not excuse taking a barely pubescent child, intoxicating the child and then raping the child.

      The Greeks had “ethics” that were the bonds of trust in society. To break these bonds one had to be a god or a monster and therefore reside outside the city, in exile or on Mt. Olympus. The bond of trust between adult and child was broken in the same way as the bonds of decency were pummelled by Germany and Germans during the Second World War.

      As for Tommy Tiernan, I entirely disagree with you Deaglán. I avowedly believe that satire must be a wrecking ball to open the boundaries of debate and to ensure that consensus is challenged. Lenny Bruce, Chris Rock, Bill Hicks etc. have all distinguished themselves by taking on convention. Bill Hicks did not see himself as a political comedian and yet listen to his piece on Waco, Texas and the role of the Feds and you can see the importance of iconoclastic comedy.

      I am willing to believe that Tiernan may have been talking in context. I also think the fact that people in the tent did not object makes it very different to a Roy Chubby Brown or a Bernard Manning where minorities in the audience are/were ridiculed. Tiernan does not do this as part of his normal routine.

      The main offence was that the remarks when written down were neither funny nor satirical. But there are levels of evil and Tiernan should not be spoken about in the same passage as a tragic and yet cowardly traitor to decency like Polanski.

    • Deaglán says:

      Sweet irony that apparently Tommy Tiernan is invoking Lenny Bruce (or maybe it is Tiernan’s supporters) in justification. The fact that Lenny Bruce was Jewish does not seem to have occurred to him/them. Comedians/artists are often admired for their willingness, in your words, “to open the boundaries of debate”. But anti-Semitism is a boundary that should not be opened.

      Some things are sacred. The lack of response by our leaders to the Tiernan episode, apart from Archbishop Martin, is dispiriting. The pro-Palestine activists, for example, should have been the first to criticise him publicly.

      I am not equating Tiernan’s words with Polanski’s actions but merely questioning the extent of special licence that is being afforded in each case by sections of public opinion. That’s all that the two cases have in common.

    • Mark says:

      The difference between Polanski and the clerical abusers in the Church is we have the name “Polanski”. The key word in your piece is “admitted”, the clerical abusers are redacted boxes in the Ryan Report.

      The fact he has admitted goes one tiny, minuscule, little step towards restoring an air of respectability. Of course, he deserves none of the support he is receiving from the Hollywood clique, but he does deserve some merit – something tiny – for actually saying he did it. That’s the difference between him the abusers in the Church.

      As regards Tiernan, have you listened to the podcast where he says the line under scrutiny? (Genuine question, non-confrontational)

    • robespierre says:

      Perhaps but Mel Brooks is also Jewish and he is quite happy to poke fun at the Holocaust in an absurdist way. He is also happy to poke fun at Yiddish culture and does so as a matter of routine in his films.

      I am no advocate for Tiernan but I do believe in freedom of speech where possible. He owes an explanation to the public but I would not deprive him of the chance to speak.

      We know all too well the costs of not communicating and not listening to one another (even when we don’t like what we are hearing) on this island.

      Would you for instance put Tiernan in the same category as anti-semites and bigots like Archbishop McQuaid, Eamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith?

      I would not because I do not believe that he wishes harm on any Jewish person living or dead. Sadly, the same could not be said for some of the public’s more “favoured” sons of Erin.

    • Deaglán says:

      Eamon de Valera was not anti-Semitic. There was an episode in Griffith’s career all right, although I am not completely au fait with it. Anti-Semitism is, was and will be always wrong but totally inexcusable after the Holocaust. I don’t know about McQuaid, who is a bit of an Aunt Sally these days. I have not listened to the podcast, would be happy to do so.

    • robespierre says:

      He did nothing to rescue the boats of Jewish people seeking asylum during WW2. He was notably anti-pathetic on this matter. He was defintely a bigot, emasculated the Senate and wrote a constitution that was deliberately designed to rile. McQuaid was his co-author.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Deaglan, I’ve had a proper listen to the podcast piece which it seems is gone from the website but I can mail it on to you if you want. I think the excuse that some are going for elsewhere that he was caricaturing or sending up someone who was genuinely anti-Semitic isn’t present in the podcast at all. There is no element of “ah sure this is what a real anti-Semitic person would have said to them” in either his language or tone.

      And in his final comment I don’t think that he was mocking the couple for being self-righteous tossers as he was in the start of that segment, which it sounds to me like they probably were, but instead he chooses to go after the fact that they were Jewish.

      He could have gone after any number of things about them; their one track minds, their arrogant presumption in challenging him in a gig they had chosen to see, the fact that Israel and Judaism are not one and the same thing, the tendency for people to be inconsistently priggish about one thing but not another, but the fact remains that given all that range of material to work from he went straight for the fact that they were Jewish.

      That was his choice of target out of all the possible targets he had and it is that which reflects poorly on him. Is Tommy Tiernan anti-Semitic? I’d really doubt it but you’d have to wonder about his choice of targets when presented with an array of them. A boorish, self righteous couple, with fire in their eyes with the fervour of the true believer confront a comedian over a comment which has at its heart good comedy, it was the Jews that killed Jesus because Jesus was himself a Jew. It is the ultimate hypocrisy for some calling themselves a Christian to be anti-Semitic when the key player in the founding of the Christian faith was Jewish. That’s the basis of a good, hardhitting satire.

      But when faced with a couple filled to the brim with pumped up self importance he, in responding (and responding from the safety of many miles and months distance, mind) goes for the Holocaust angle. If he had gone after the ridiculousness of the true believer with their spitting, over the top, overly righteous fervour angle he might have been hitting too close to home for comfort.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      As for Polanski, he should have done time for his crime in the 70s but there is some peculiarity around the plea bargain he had entered into which the judge then chose to alter. It is interesting to note the tendency of any group from the Arts to politics to rally around one of their own no matter what they are accused of.

    • Deaglán says:

      I have now listened to the relevant section of the podcast, which you kindly sent to my personal email, Dan (It’s ddebre1@aol.com for anyone else who wants to send a direct message).

      The anti-Jewish rant is even worse to listen to than it is to read. The really disturbing part is the laughter from the audience, culminating in applause as this is the note on which Mr Tiernan finishes his remarks.

      That laughter forced into my mind those photographs of the happy smiling faces of the citizens of Vienna as Hitler arrived after the Anschluss. Except they at least have the excuse that, although they would have been aware of Nazi anti-Semitism, they at least did not know about the impending Holocaust a few years later. No such excuse for this lot.

      Tommy Tiernan cannot be equated with Hitler of course and, if he were to apologise, the matter could be brought to some kind of close. How about it, Tommy?

    • Ray D says:

      Polanski should be held accountable unless of course there is a general amnesty

    • Dylan says:

      The double standard in both cases is striking.

      To focus on the Tiernan situation, any ordinary person making anti-semitic remarks at work, at school, or in a public place would face serious consequences.

      A couple of years back, a racist comment made by a member of the public in the city centre was overheard by two undercover detectives who happened to be nearby. The guy was arrested and prosecuted.

      Only last week in London, a man was fined for an anti-Semitic outburst made while working out in a gym.

      Why should there be one standard for an ordinary citizen and another standard for a fading celebrity trying to sell tickets to his show?

      Polanski should have his day in court. And so should Mr Tiernan.

    • Deaglán says:

      I missed that case in the London gym, involving a senior diplomat in the Foreign Office:


    • mike says:


      You are wrong. Mel Brooks poked fun at the Nazis, Hitler, and his conquering aims. He never, never, never poked fun at the Holocaust.

      If you disagree, then I dare you to provide the evidence.

      Incidentally, in my view, nobody – no matter what their religion, or none, should poke fun or joke about people being murdered, and especially in the way that Tiernan did on the way victims were being forced into the gas chambers. People who laughed at the gas chamber scene are those, who given the circumstances would probably have been persuaded to drop the Zyklon. Such is the frailty and vulnerability to evil of human beings. First they burnt the Jewish books, and no doubt laughed as they did it – and then they burnt the Jews. The odd – very odd! – Jewish comic who has got a cheap laugh out of the Holocaust is as idiotic and insensitive as Tiernan, regardless as to whether the latter is anti-semitic or not, which is not the argument, but a distraction.

    • robespierre says:

      You are entitled to be outraged Mike. I am not as right-on as you but notwithstanding my shortcomings the world remains a patchwork quilt of views and opinions.

      I would prefer to hear the full texture of other people’s views and opinions than be denied them. I believe this will allow me to better understand the world that I live in and the people I live beside than occupying a cosy bubble of bourgeois values.

      Maybe the world would be a better place if the thought police ran everything in their bien pensant manner. After all they always feel that they know best.

      All I know is that in a democracy that actually means something – all views even those we most vehemently disagree with can only be safely and determinedly taken on if the debate is aired and the arguments played out.

      By all means hold your view – I agree with it – but given our recent history in Ireland from Holy Cross in East Belfast to Gypsy living on roundabouts in Ballymun to Poles being stabbed to death in Crumlin I think we have more fundamental questions to tackle in terms of societal intolerance than the ravings of a minor performer.

      You may that that is where we should start addressng intolerance. That may also be correct – it is certainly as plausible a means to kicking off a fightback as any other but I would question whether it would change bigotry for a second among the most disengaged in our society.

      We know from research the DE social class is where racist intolerance is at its strongest. I personally would prefer to start here.

    • Caroline O'Connell says:

      The difference? Polanski has an Oscar! Honestly, do you know nothing about how the world works? Award winning, famous people who’ve had bad childhoods and who ply children with alcohol with a view to molesting and raping them are not to be subject to the same justice as mere Christian Brothers, or swimming coaches, or desk jockeys, or brickies, or anyone of a non-famous variety!

      Non famous people are pedophiles.
      Famous people are misunderstood geniuses.

      (please note, for the purpose of this response, the tongue is to be inserted firmly into the cheek.)

    • Deaglán says:

      RE Tommy Tiernan: Public disapproval is preferable as a remedy to the legalistic approach. The comedian has been in hot water before of course:


    • Deaglán says:

      Dumbeldorf: I have some queries on the comment you submitted. I have sent them to the email address you supplied.

    • Martin Doyle says:

      Polanski must not be insulated from justice because he is talented or because he has influential friends. Lady Justice is not a cinemagoer; she wears a blindfold.

      The sticky fact that Polanski confessed to rape in court cannot be airbrushed out of existence by diversionary arguments about how nice he is, talented he is, benighted he is, or respected he is.

      He drugged a young girl and raped her orally, vaginally, and anally despite her protests. How is Polanski different from the priest who did the same, and whom society condemns? The priest has fewer trendy protectors, that is all.

    • nader paul kucinich gravel says:

      Single-Payer GRAYSON Single-Payer

      …It would have been just too damn expensive to remove all that asbestos from the Twin Towers…

      As the 9/12 Tea Party looks into the events of 9/11 they have many questions concerning the Official Story.
      They know not to trust the Government & Media.
      Only the guilty fear inquiry.

      An ill wind comes arising
      Across the cities of the plain
      There’s no swimming in the heavy water
      No singing in the acid rain
      Red alert
      Red alert

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Martin, it may be a technicality but Polanski didn’t “confess to rape in court”. He plead guilty to a charge of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor which is still something that should be punished but which isn’t the same charge as one of rape.

    • Liam says:

      I watched the Tiernan bit on the Late show with Ryan from 08 on Youtube, his humour might have been funny in the 90’s poking fun at accepted norms but given that we have had a decade or more of Podge & Rodge etc. it seems dated and more cringe worthy rather then offensive. Maybe his improv skills aren’t what they were. Saying that I’ll defend his right to tell whatever gags he wants. What better lesson for his audience then to reflect on why they were laughing if it turns out his routine was beyond bad taste

    • mike says:


      You have failed completely to deal with the response I posted in relation to your previous claim that Mel Brooks poked fun at the Holocaust. Your views on democracy etc, are all very good and interesting, but as to the specific claim initially made by you, you have not responded to at all to my claim that you are wrong.

      So I again ask you to try and substantiate your claim or else simply withdraw it. I suspect that you simply repeated some baseless comment that you had read, and took it as accurate without checking it.

    • robespierre says:

      He may or may not have referenced the holocaust in one of his films. I haven’t checked the scripts. He certainly had a fixation with the Nazis and Hitler. If you are still outraged Mike you could always write a letter to The Irish Times...

    • mike says:


      You sure are finding it hard to retract unequivocally your original allegation, aren’t you. I suppose we’re all human. But, why can’t you just come clean and admit that you goofed, instead of this …”He may or may not have referenced the holocaust in one of his films. I haven’t checked the scripts. He certainly had a fixation with the Nazis and Hitler.” How on earth did your original unambiguous claim that “Mel Brooks was quite happy to poke fun at the Holocaust” get transformed now into “he may or may not have referenced (does this still mean “poked fun at”, or simply talked about it?) the holocaust”.

      On the other hand I agree fully with your view of Dev…the man did extremely little to assist Jews seeking refuge from persecution. His exclusion policy toward Jewish refugees in conjunction with his offering condolences in 1945 on the death of a man like Hitler (given all that was known at the time about the Nazis’ actions over the previous 12 years, including his anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws years before the war, his concentration camps years before the war, the mass killings of Jews and other “sub humans” during the Nazi occupation of varous European countries, etc etc.) makes Dev a very morally bankrupt person. It says a lot for his lack of character and judgement.

    • Deaglán says:

      I don’t think your views on Dev would be shared by members of the Jewish community in Ireland at the time. There certainly was anti-Semitism in the country and I have written about it on this blog, but I think you are wrong to single out Dev, whatever his other failings. I agree there should have been more Jewish refugees admitted and I have said so in the print edition of the paper. As for signing the book of condolences for the appalling and monstrous A. Hitler, that was Dev observing the diplomatic niceties, displaying his neutrality etc. I remember challenging his biographer, Lord Longford about it. Must dig out the interview sometime and re-run his response. I would not, personally, be at all uncritical of Dev but he wasn’t the one marching around in coloured shirts giving stiff-arm salutes. and preaching the doctrine of the corporate state. And it was another future taoiseach who said that the Blackshirts had been victorious in Italy, the Brownshirts in Germany, “and please God the Blueshirts will be victorious in Ireland”. But we never hear anything about that: it’s all about Dev insisting on the pro-forma diplomatic conventions. If we had had diplomatic relations with Russia in 1953, when Stalin died, I am sure he would have done the very same. The logic of what you’re saying is that we shouldn’t have been neutral in WWII which is a question I would love to see teased out.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      “But we never hear anything about that:” Deaglán, I’m astounded at this comment. If someone’s a member of Fine Gael they’d rarely go for any length of time without hearing a reference to blueshirts.

    • Kynos says:

      World’s full of people who hate children and Jews. Jewish children too. Know little to nowt about the Polanski case. So the same about the Tiernan one. Seems a false equation alright, maybe would have been better to keep them in separate posts Deaglan. Then againl Recall Polanski’s overblown Macbeth. That’s not a play you take to properly ‘less you have some empathy with the hero’s tragic flaw. Cathal O Searcaigh springs to mind. Artists. Brendan Behan was a catamite, in an Ireland stiff with religion. Yet many stiff religious unbent themselves in the bottoms of bairns they’d been given absolute authority over. The dangers of being a saoi. Sage. Whatever. Absolute power = absolute corruption according to the advice given once to a bishop. Tiernan’s power over his audience, stream of consciousness narrative with a happy knack of grabbing each trapeze just as it swings to the apex of its arc, unbuckles the spirit from considerations of what must-be-not-said and what-must-be-said. No biz like Shoah biz, was that Jackie Mason or a Jewish-American professor of distinction and the female gender? Matters not it’s true for a’ that. So Tiernan discloses his disrespect for shibboleths. Causes a bunch of controversy. Appeals to some low character in his audience. That’s his job. Could probably do him under incitement to hatred but isn’t it more fun and insructive to do him with polite meaningless words? Just Woolf-gathering, sorry can’t sleep.

    • Kynos says:

      Dev ignored several communications from Rabbi Herzog pleading with him to somehow help the shattered remnants of Israel in Europe. One at least was an urgent telegram. Yet there’s a pine forest named the Eamonn de Valera Forest somewhere near Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, forget which. So the Israelis obviously concluded somewhere along the line he was a righteous gentile. Punctilious about neutrality he was, it appears. When it came to signing books of condolences. Not so when it came to allowing weather and other shipping intelligence be filtered to the Allies from Irish coastal stations, nor when it came to letting Allied internees slip back across the Border to rejoin their forces when they were supposed to be on parole and their words as gentlemen and even officers. That old moral cognitive dissonance. He just couldn’t bring himself to allow the use of the Treaty Ports and thus close the Air Gap in which the grey wolves prowled. Hundreds of ships and thousands of people died in the Air Gap, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff estimates by both the US and Britain during and after the war. We never hear any excoriation of Dev for that. Only for him going round to see his old mate Herr Hempel and signing a book. Nobody’s yet offered to sign a book of condolence for 800 years of off-and-on attempted genocide against what I loosely call the “Irish”. Right that’s me for a cup of camomile tea and lights out

    • robespierre says:

      Mike, fair enough I retract the statement. I have no problem doing so. My point was less the shoah and rather that some people like Patrick Kielty whose father was murdered by loyalists can play pubs in East Belfast and extract raucous laughter by playing both sides. Humour can be found in the darkest of holes. Were this not true, Beckett and Pinter would have had no career worth mentioning.

      Deaglán, you may be correct in relation to the Jews that were living here. I cannot say. Obviously one prominant Dublin family served Fianna Fáil while he was still alive and Ben Briscoe went on to become a Lord Mayor.

      There is however the sectarian issue of dismantling the Senate, it was there to accomodate the Protestant and Anglo-Irish minority who had difficulty getting elected in the 1930′s, and an extremely strident natural law constitution.

      The former occupier of the Irishman’s Diary column has treated at some length of the flight of Protestants from the Free State after the change of power.

      Your quoting of the Fine Gael Taoiseach Mr. Costello while accurate does leave out the matter of the 1932 election when unofficial FF mobs were breaking up election meetings up and down the country. If you strip out a lot of the short-lived paraphernalia this was about allowing one party to talk to its supporters. It was a response to Zanu-FF tactics in today’s terms.

      I would also remind you of de Valera’s remark to his son when CnaG handed over power in 1932 without any recriminations and he had seen the books – “Vivian they were magnificent”.

    • Deaglán says:

      More to the Senate issue than you make out, Robespierre. I agree there was bad behaviour by FF supporters in the Thirties. My point was simply that the only issue you ever hear about is Dev signing the book of condolences, as a kindness to Hempel, who had apparently been well-behaved from the Government’s point of view. By the way Dan, those references to Blueshirts are invariably jocose.

      There was a lot of bitterness over our neutrality which was not assuaged by letting the odd RAF guy slip across the Border. There are a lot of issues that deserve to be debated. My inclination is that we were right to stay neutral but the alternative arguments are certainly interesting.

      I have heard anecdotal evidence that the many Irish people were pro-German during the War, although the invasion of Poland, for example, would not have gone down well here.

      There was a lot of support for Mussolini among politicians and intellectuals, from what I gather. Even Churchill admired him apparently.

    • Liam says:

      I remember hearing probably on an RTE prog that the view was expressed that Irish people wanted Britain to be “a little bit bate!” or some such wording. To be fair to Dev at the time, I’d have at least wanted to see which side was going to be victorious. Nobody seems to give Sweden a hard time even though they supplied iron ore and other materials to the Germans.
      If Ireland missed a trick it was not allowing the US to use the facilities given that Germany had invaded Russia at that stage, or did the “Catholic elite” here have mixed views on that, maybe they wanted the USSR “a little bit bate” as well

    • mike says:


      Respectfully, I would suggest that if you ever read Prof Dermot Keogh’s exhaustive “Jews in 20th Century Ireland”, you will see that he systematically documents the rigorous exclusion policy towards Jews seeking refuge in Ireland both for many years before, during, and even after the war. Dev, as head of the government, must be held accountable for this shameful period, which resulted in the deaths of countless Jews. He rejected almost all of the entreaties of Chief Rabbi Hherzog to help the fleeing Jews, mostly to no avail. Sometimes Dev offered kind words, but his subsequent deeds were markedly few and far between. Rabbi

      His condolence visit was simply incomprehensible and an insult to people who were relatives of the victims of the man, namely Hitler, responsible. It was Dev’s choice to pay the visit, and if you were to say that had you been in his political place you too would have acted in the same, then I, as a citizen of a free and democratic country would be ashamed of such an act. Diplomatic protocol should never take precedence over the rights of millions of innocent civilian victims who were murdered as a direct result of the policies of the most evil monster that Germany has ever produced. Yet Dev felt it fitting to pay the visit. I ask you: why would any moral person want to offer condolences on the death of such a mass murderer? The opposite surely is the right response.

      Moreover, do you really think that the Jewish community here would have been outspoken about the failure of Dev to do so very little to help their fellow Jews. They were scared out of their wits. They didn’t want to rock the boat.

      Re Israel and its Righteous Gentile recognition of Dev: they were clearly trying to influence Ireland to recognise the state of Israel, no other reason. For, any rational analysis such as Keogh’s, has overwhelmingly demonstrated that -apart from a few cases in which he personally intervened (I believe they can be counted as less than 10), and a few other cases of rich Jews who were admitted simply because of their power to set up hat factories and the like – his was an Exclusion policy. I also should note that Dev nevertheless always refused to accord full recognition to Israel.

    • Deaglán says:

      My main point is that the criticism of Dev for signing the book of condolences has obscured and inhibited investigation of the very warm sympathy towards the Nazis and Mussolini in what I might call non-Dev circles, whether on the right or among those militant republicans who saw any enemy of the “Brits” as a friend. For whatever reason, you people just don’t want to get into that.

    • Kynos says:

      Apparently Dan Breen cried all day long when he heard Hitler was dead. He thought he was the finest man Europe had ever produced. As for Dev, his final world on the matter came in the Dail on 19 July 1945. I quote here from Girvin (The Emergency):
      “But I want to say this, that I did what I did as my duty, and I am going to do my duty, and I was quite aware when I was doing it that it was capable of being misrepresented. I am going to do my duty, and pay the necessary courtesies as Minister for External Affairs, even though I have to face the misrepresentation, and our country has to face the misrepresentation, that it causes. Anything else would bring us into contempt.”
      Pity his political heirs weren’t so punctillious when it came to observing the internationally legislated norms of neutrality. But in a country that says one thing and does another all the time, that derives virtue from circumstance not principle, sure what would you expect? Lots of fumbling in greasy tills and ha’pence added to ha’pence to be made out of facilitating illegal unjust war and torture. Sure didn’t Dev say back in 1940 or thereabouts that he wished he could tell which side would win so he’d know which side to support? Yeah. He did. There’s yer Zeitgeist right up unto this day.

    • Kynos says:

      (Jeez did I write that crap last nite? Sorry. Must have been hypnogogic. Apologies again)

    • Dave says:

      “If he had launched a similar tirade about, say, Palestinians or gay people or women, it is a safe bet that his shows would be picketed and you would probably not see him on TV for a few months if not years.”

      I’ve seen this argument a number of times in various and I’m still not sure how anyone is convinced by it.

      Do people seriously think that comedians don’t make fun of Islam and Muslims (more so than Palestinians)?

      Tommy deserves to be criticised, but for the content of his remarks rather than the subject. He stepped on a sacred cow, but unfortunately he did it for a cheap laugh rather than making a valid intellectual point.

      His work in the past has been equally as offensive to far more groups than just Jews, but until now he’s always actually been funny.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      Deaglán, I don’t have that much of a problem with Dev signing the book of condolences. I have a far bigger problem with the republican movement’s dalliances with the German authorities and the exalting of the likes of Sean Russell. And not all those references to blueshirt are jokey-jokey.

    • Robespierre says:

      Deaglán I had a fairly strong letter in the times on the of Sean Russell earlier this year.

      I think you are right that logically neutrality (belligerent neutrality as Prof. O’Halpin terms it) was politically correct and avoided a cleft in Ireland’s political bosom so close to the civil war.

      Morally however I have always stood with James Dillon on this and believe we should have gone into the war and stood against the Nazis. In Garret FitzGerald’s book “Reflections on the Irish State” he refers to Aiken’s secret deal for the British Army to take over the Irish command in the event of invasion.

      It is this clear hypocrisy that is difficult to swallow when looking at the Hempel episode.

    • mike says:


      Thanks for showing Dev’s statement on his condolence visit for Hitler.


      “But I want to say this, that I did what I did as my duty, and I am going to do my duty, and I was quite aware when I was doing it that it was capable of being misrepresented. I am going to do my duty, and pay the necessary courtesies as Minister for External Affairs, even though I have to face the misrepresentation, and our country has to face the misrepresentation, that it causes. Anything else would bring us into contempt.

      What a pathetic individual it shows him to have been. He stresses that his visit will be “misrepresented”.

      Er, no, I don’t think so. How could anyone misrepresent his visit for something other than what it was. It was a visit to express on behalf of the Irish people their sincere sympathy with the German people for the loss of their Fuhrer, in effect for the death of the man responsible for the death camps, and whose stated aim over five years earlier in the Reichstag was to “exterminate” all the Jews everywhere if they, “the Jews”(sic) dared to start another world war, having already blamed them for every other war in history. Dear Dev had been made well aware of Hitler’s death camps on so many occasions, and yet he felt it was his “duty” to pay his respects.

      Had the man no sense of right and wrong?

      Pity he had never called in the German Ambassador during the war years and objected to their extermination policy. Or insisted that they send some Jews to Ireland, because he would like to offer them refuge.

      How strange it is that he publicly expressed his sympathy for the death of Hitler, but never once for the Jews of whose fate he was aware of during the last three years of the war. Not one public utterance of sympathy or condolence from him at all on this, but yes, a visit to express his symapthy for the death of Herr Hitler. Did he also later express his sympathy for them losing the war. No? Oh dear, did he not feel it was his duty?

    • Lefournier says:

      Tiernan has made a career out of being offensive, notably on the Late Late. He thinks he is absolved of all responsibility because he is a “comedian” although it seems a long time since he said anything funny. He has not apologised – he issued a statement that suggested he was upset because people got annoyed.

      The most troubling aspect of this case is that the audience laughed heartily at his hate-filled rant even though there is nothing funny about it.

      There is a discussion here


    • mike says:

      I agree totally with your comment on the audience’s response. I would further suggest that people who laugh at the mass murder of others are capable in the right (that is, the wrong) circumstances of carrying out mass murder itself. As has already been observed: first they burnt the Jewish books, and laughed; then they burnt the Jews. As already repeatedly evidenced throughout history, human beings can be easily brought to perform and participate in mass murder. The idiots who can laugh at the process of mass murder (“hand in hand, leave your hair and your glasses”) are idiotic enough to be capable enough of carrying it out in a totalitarian state, or when given half the chance, given the wrong circumstances.

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