Citizen Journalism Ireland: Selection of articles 2002/2003/2004


February 2002

‘The reality changes with the first air-raid’.  It needs to be witnessed, felt, the sense of  smell must be evoked.  The Macho men all of a sudden are ‘scared men’.  The world becomes four-dimensional.  They are face to face with the immenence of death.

Key factor:  The sense of guiltYet another Paradox.  You live, another dies. 

War environment inflames the will to live. 

Home:  There is a change, it can become a will to live no longer.

The reality is that mental wounds are just the same as physical wounds.

Point made:  While combatants are on the war front, alcohol is about entertainment and abnormal practices are engaged in.  Combatants can ‘play around’ with dead bodies and fire hand grenades (must take this in context of their situation).  There are no sanctions as such.

The reaction of the Ministry of Defence to the problems that arose, was to reduce the medical budget.

Fact:  3 times the number of men who fought in Vietnam committed suicide.  This does not speak of those who are on the likes of Skid Row or known as down and outs.

In the UK, more combatants have now died from suicide than were killed in the Falklands war and the numbers are rising significantly.

The Stigmatisation factor to mental illness is particularly prevalent in the Armed Forces.

The question   WHY? MUST BE ASKED


Michelle Clarke 2002

Date: Friday, June 06, 2003 9:39 AM


Time is approaching, the Torch was lit and the journey to Ireland has begun.

This is the European Year of People with Disabilities – the objective is to challenge people to highlight the benefits of full integration for society as a whole.

Changing attitudes is one aspect but the breaking down of barriers and obstacles also needs attention.

The European Year of People with Disabilities (EYOD) is very much people driven.  A budget of Euro 12 million was provided but mostly distributed to national level.  At a national level, more local stakeholders will be involved and this will stimulate awareness.  It is hoped this new awareness will impact into policy objectives for equality for those with disabilities.

‘At the event opening in Athens, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou talked about ‘invisible citizens’……

One in four Europeans has a family member affected by a disability; only 4% have a colleague with a disability and only 2% know a disabled pupil at school.  Europeans with a disability are less likely to have a job or a business or have a complete tertiary education.  They are less likely to be ‘married’ (Social Agenda – European Commission Employment and Social Affairs April 2003 – free EU Office).

The EYPD has established a new framework.  A number of major companies have volunteered to establish action plans in favour of people with disabilities.  These include Hewlett Packard; Volkswagen; Sony; Manpower and others.  The recruitment company Adecco has committed to placing 7,000 people with disabilities on the EU labour market during 2003.  IBM has also made provision in line EYPD.

In Ireland, we need to remember that the Disabilities Bill has been delayed.  However, it is important to remember that legislation fights discrimination.

There will be lots of fun and excitement with the participants, their families and friends but there will also be opportunities to compare how different countries look at Special Needs and Disabilities provision.  I note in Spain, the University provides 3% of student places to people with disabilities.

Chinese Proverb:

‘The true miracle is not to fly in the air

Or to walk on the water


GOOD LUCK WITH THE OLYMPICS – ENJOY  (Michelle) NB  This is 2004

Accumulated pain; depression and suicide.
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics
Thursday, Nov 25 2004, 9:01pm

The last time Suicide was raised on this Citizen Journalism site in Ireland 27 people replied. Another article referred to the Father who felt such pain that he opted to
set fire to himself in a solicitors office. This is about pain and it is my hope that this
article written at a painful time in my life might initiate the word HOPE in the minds of
vulnerable, saddened, people.  ‘We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars’ – Oscar Wilde

The truth is that for some of us, while in the gutter, the stars can still be seen, but for
others who often may be deemed by others to lead a privileged life, a time in their life may occur when the dark, star-less gutter comprises their life.

Be it of their own making or not, and who is anyone to assume the position of judge? – they have reached that place where the dark mist seeps through their mind and thinking processes. The reality is as stark as a life or death route.

I have been there more than a few times and yearned for the blow that would give peace. I sought that inadvertent accident. I have stood watching the No. 10 bus, my mind focused on how wholly effective the method would be? There could be nothing worse than not attaining one’s objective.

Characteristics, in my opinion, can influence the ultimate decision. In my case, I regard empathy as a prominent factor. To empathise, is to basically stand in another’s shoes and it is this that proves each time the deciding factor. You see, from personal experience, the effect of suicide on those concerned, particularly the family and friends, and all who come in contact with the death by suicide, is both damaging and a life sentence.

The ‘Holy Spirit’ or whoever you choose can work in very mysterious ways:-

While I was living in England in the 1980’s, I was a commuter, by train daily, to the City, where I worked. It was a hard winter and there was a lot of snow and frost causing major delays and cancellations on the trains. One day as I stood waiting to board an overcrowded, last train out of Liverpool Street, the train driver felt kindly
toward me and invited me to join him in his part of the train. We chatted but interestingly the subject changed to suicide.

Before long I realised a perspective I never looked at. He angrily spoke of the selfishness of people who weekly threw themselves before the trains. He and his fellow train drivers had to deal emotionally, physically and otherwise with these harrowing events. This conversation, always remains with me albeit I know when things become
so bleak, this rationality scarcely applies. However, if at all possible try and keep a level
of empathy in mind.

My depressions have been violent and numerous yet every time I ‘resurrect out of the ashes’, I am caught in a near ecstasy of enthusiasm to ask why, seek further research and responses, to read more, to assist anyone as much as possible whom I feel may need help i.e. within the protection boundaries I must set for myself. Opportunities each time present themselves and it is these experiences that drive me on – I am constantly in
search of any answer.

This was published in the Aware magazine, St Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin 8 – 2001

August 2001 – during a very disturbed yet enlightening period in my life. I found this and
here I am November 2004 and content.

Legalised Brothels in Holland to Vintners Ireland and Vision
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics – Please Wednesday, Sep 8 2004, 4:05pm

This is most interesting.

Now that our Government are in swing and aiming for Social Awareness, people ought to put forward legalisation of brothels in Ireland.

Again I recommend the article in this weeks Economist magazine about the Sex business. The time has come to use initiative in Ireland and why not piggy back on the research of other countries.

I note with a degree of wonder the bleating of the Vintners association about the smoking ban; it appears that takings are down; and product prices are up.

Perhaps the time has come for pub owners to have some vision. Many pubs host crowds at ground level or empty spaces these days and vacant space upstairs; maybe some options need to be tapped.

I say no to kerb crawlers. I say yes to respect of all people concerned. I do not like passing women working on the street late at night when it is cold and dangerous for them. They supply a need. We need to take note.

If sex is legalised, maybe there would be less rape, crime, etc. If a person is a sex addict then let them pay accordingly without any inherent seediness. Public Health ought to be involved also.

Quotation selected from News Internationalist
Petra Kelly 1947-1992 German Green Politician

‘We need policies of eco-justice, and we need to realise the spiritual dimensions of our life, of our interconnected planet Earth, of each other!’

Suicide Prevention Day this Friday – Ponder on wisdom ‘Knowledge is no load’
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics Wednesday, Sep 8 2004, 11:36pm

The number of fatal car accidents recently alarms me. I don’t know why but personally I seem to link them with suicide and ask the question why RTA details are not more specific in detail (as in other countries). is an interesting website. The notification of World Suicide Prevention Day is September Friday 10th 2004. This coincides with the Aware Daisy days. Thursday; Friday; and Saturday – Bulbs for planting will be sold throughout the Island of Ireland. This years focus is Depression and Suicide Prevention.

The UN agency seeks to curb ‘the huge but largely preventable problem of suicide’. The figures reveal that almost 1 million people die every year as a consequence of suicide. This is more than from homicides and wars combined. This makes suicide a ‘tragic global public health problem’ according to the World Health Organisation.

The World Health Organisation stress the importance of EARLY IDENTIFICATION AND TREATMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS.

The news report outlines a large number of complex underlying causes including poverty, unemployment, loss of loved ones, arguments, relationship breakdowns; to name but a few.

They also state that having access to the means to suicide is both an important risk factor and determinant of suicide.

Stigma remains in Ireland. Aware, Mental Health Organisation, Mind and other organisations and people like the Samaritans are there with the listening ear.

Listen to Christy Moore’s Song; Don MacLean and Vincent; read the works of the complex writer Sylvia Plath who chose suicide because she could no longer cope with her life. You are not alone just stretch out the hand. Drink and drugs are not the answer, it is humanity and the ability to not experience loneliness in being alone. Life is a journey and there are many pilgrims out there to take your hand.

People hit momentary suicidal dips and make it through. To be a survivor of suicide haunts your life particularly if stigma surrounds it.

A quotation: News International


‘Perhaps that is what the 21st century has in store for us. The dismantling of the BIG. PERHAPS IT WILL BE CENTURY OF SMALL THINGS.

Indian Writer – Arundhati Roy
and Activist

Suicide – some strategies; there is hope in despair
by Michelle Clarke – Social Justice and Ethics –
Thursday, Dec 30 2004, 8:43pm

Christmas is over and the New Year approaches.

I am providing a few words of comfort from a book  by Marie Barrett, to people like me, who know what despair is about and those who have encountered the shock and pain of suicide.

The title: Hope in the face of Suicide by Marie Barrett. (This is a small booklet I purchased at the Veritas shop and that I often carry in my handbag on days when I need a raison d’etre)

‘Are you tired?
Are you lonely?
Are you troubled or afraid?
Have you someone to talk to?
Did you sleep last night?
Are you worried about today?

Marie Barrett assembled these lines – all I know is that I can empathise with each question and thankfully, these feelings relate to my past and I enjoyed this Christmas with my new friend Kevin.

Denial is a word we need to be more aware of. Denial can kill people, it cause others to refuse to embrace full recovery. There is the denial of trust, of truth, of love. There also is the denial of pain.  Denial seeps through families, companies, groups of people and can cause harm ….. in families where a suicide occurs, denial can be used to create the perfect picture but like a mirror that splinters so can be the outcome.

Perfection: This is a trait associated with success. We need to be careful in this regard…..I will take a few words from the booklet that may be of benefit.

‘Don’t burden your heart with perfection
Seek the balm ‘to be weak’
Listen. Listen to your thoughts, your feelings
Seek help
Look for help. It is waiting
Suicide, of oneself, of another, can be avoided
Seek out. Speak.

Pain is real. Pain is healing.
Both are needed
To deny this to is to deny truth of oneself’

I can identify so well with the perfection and know that when one learns to lower ones own levels of perfection, there is a freedom to be gained.  When alienation takes over; and the body begins to close into itself and the mind is dark and dour……try to hold on.

The Samaritans are there; Aware; Mental Health Association; Grow and others. The people are trained to listen and to be heard breaks through the despair.

I take finally a meditation from the book.

‘Let me sleep gently,
I cannot
I am still tired, God
Help me
I am trusting – a little
Help me find peace

Another suggestion:

Alcohol is a depressant. It lowers mood ultimately. The up is limited.

Gardai and claims that 90% encounter bullying.

Michelle  Clarke – Social Justice. 

Wednesday September 1st 2004, 8:41 pm       

Bullying – not just among children. People who bully ironically are often the people with low self-esteem. They project onto others those characteristics they share, but don’t like in themselves. Alas they seek the vulnerable targets. What is more interesting is that they may not even be aware, the reaction may be from their subconscious.

Bullying applies in schools, between children, between parents of children; in the Civil Service, in the Professions, and even Bertie Ahern refused to be bullied by Michael O’Leary per a recent headline in Irish newspapers. What can be done either at an individual level or otherwise? It’s September, children are back at school; employers and employees are back at work; politicians are back in the Dail and so are students are back at school or at university.

Ask some person like Tony Humphry’s to lecture people/children/facilitators for an hour and make them aware as why they engage in bullying. This can be backed up by some of the copious number of self-help books on the market. What has greatly helped me is the quotation from Nietzche ‘He who has the reason why, can deal with anyhow’

As a young secretary, I experienced the game plan of the bully. It was a set up situation to establish the power element of I am ‘the boss’ and you are ‘the secretary’. This is nearly 20 years ago now. I was saved by a wise Chartered Accountant in his 60’s who told me ‘Young lady’, if you don’t make a stand now, this will continue’. I took his advice and it worked very well in that place of employment where I remained for five years. I shed many tears when I left that company but then this is life and I had to join my husband in the UK because it was 1980’s Ireland and he could find no work here.

I became re-acquainted with Bullying and others seeking to be in control when I became humbled through ill-health. The only difference this time is that I had neither the health or ENERGY to engage in the ritual dance of the myriad of bullies who I met during that time……it was about vulnerability. Bullies seek out the weak. You submission in this situation is not voluntary, that stubborn streak of independence may not have left your core being but to survive you become ultimately becoming passive resistant. The Hope is that you get stronger over time and your health improves.

As I recover, I know that bullying exists. My way of dealing with it was and continues to be reading about it. A small book that I found excellent is John Powell’s (Jesuit Priest) ‘Why am I afraid to tell you who I am……written 1950’s but it has shown me how to set down boundaries. I have enlisted some coping strategies like believing that I have the right to choose not to use the phone and to not listen to people who tend to want to tell other people how to run their lives. I am not faulting the other human being but I am acknowledging my right to say no to the phone and to accepting a quality in their person that I do not like.

An extreme example of bullying – an indication of how pervasive it is.

When I lived in Zimbabwe, I either heard or read about this. The New Government in the 1980’s was left with the remnants of the British civilservice. Naturally, there was a change over in staff and of course the new staff had an acquired status position in line with their promotion and based on what they identified from
the past administration because the system did not work the same way. Sometimes to get say one’s tax sorted out – you had to employ a few relatives from the rural areas to get tax due back. Power / control – we are talking about being human and susceptible and often at its worst when one is vulnerable.

I read/heard of one case of a white woman probably for the first time having to deal with the new system attending a civil service office. She like the rest had to queue. The black Zimbabweans had spent their lives queueing. However, each time she reached the desk – the African woman dismissed her and kept telling her to go to the back of the queue. Eventually – the answer came. You are white, you have done this to us all our lives. Now you see what it is like. This I would call redressing the power balance and is understandable. However, the key point is that people learn. The learning is key. This is where the learning starts and behaviour change is the aim.

Bullying is more a characteristic/trait/coping mechanism and it is acknowledged that if you confront bullies – they retreat. The characteristic is often born out of their owninsecurity. What is important is that this characteristic can be changed.


To confront the person who is the bully may be as simple as saying to them –

That is your projection. This disempowers the bully who fires words like arrows aimed to hurt.

In Ireland much has been reported about An Gardai Siochana (claims that 90% encounter bullying) within the ranks and beyond. Bullying became so entrenched that criminal practices occurred and it became necessary to hold a tribunal of inquiry known as the The Morris Tribunal findings ought to remain stark in the minds of policy makers and Government. The

Morris Tribunal may cost inordinate sums but it is up to we the people in Ireland to take an individual responsibility to ensure ethics and social justice and be aware that bullying is morally wrong.

A Gandhi quote:

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.

This dimension of health merits keen attention in the health boards, teaching, the Gardai, the politicians’ personal commitment levels and effective leadership of their bureaucratic mass. Some lessons in human skills and the concept of equality and ability of people to change their attitudes need focus and personal undertaking.

Compassion seems to have fallen from grace in the society of today – To show compassion is not marketable and is often misread as a sigh of being weak or vulnerable. Compassion helps you to seek the explanation which encourages the ‘take responsibility awareness’ route which needs to start in the schools NOW AND WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT. In the UK – they have started at classroom level and explanation.

Michelle quotes Nietzche

                                ‘He who has the reason why can deal with any how’

About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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