Bartra: Someone has done their homework since the 2008 recession; NAMA became the university for such scholars to create the next market to invest in. For some their interest is Social Housing and Nursing Homes. How did I find this? A friend was referred from St Vincent’s University Hospital at the worst time of COVID-19 to Raheny. The service was so poor I decided to research the backers and found Bartra. Recommend search of urban abandonments and dereliction via Google.

Bartra Wealth Advisor

Insight

Why social housing in Ireland became popular for investors

13/07/2021

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When it comes to major types of real estate investment, the obvious contenders are residential property and commercial real estate. Therefore, it might come as a surprise that social housing has actually become one of the most popular investment options in Ireland in recent years.

According to CBRE’s Ireland Bi-Monthly Research Report published in May 2021, the Irish social housing market continues to record large transactions, including the recent sale by Ardstone Capital of a portfolio of five multifamily and single-family assets for €450 million, and the acquisition of 39 units leased to Dublin City Council at Blackhall Street in Dublin 7 for €20 million. The report also noted that several annuity funds and impact funds are now specifically targeting opportunities in this sector, and the social housing market is expected to thrive going forward. So, why are so many institutional investors keen to invest in this sector?

Data published in November 2020 showed that there were 61,880 households on the housing list in Ireland, while only 9,028 social homes are currently onsite. The social housing supply falls far short of demand, not to mention that last year’s pandemic battered global construction sectors with Ireland being no exception. The likelihood is that the housing list is now considerably longer than the data published.

Ireland social housing delivery vs housing need

The undersupply of social housing did not happen overnight. A significant legacy of the 2008 financial crisis was substantial under-investment in Ireland’s real estate projects, causing the real estate supply to plummet.

Ireland’s economy has regained its momentum in recent years and maintained the highest economic growth rate in Europe for six consecutive years. Thousands of migrants are flooding into this new European financial centre, especially Dublin, and this has further encouraged a rise in rent and demand for private and social housing.

Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme

To accelerate social housing delivery, the Irish government has committed more than €6 billion under the “Rebuilding Ireland” campaign. Under Rebuilding Ireland, one of the targets is to deliver 50,000 social housing units by 2021, of which 33,500 units will be exclusively built as social housing, 6,500 units will be acquired from the market, and the remaining 10,000 units will be secured via lease agreements. In other words, the Irish government is encouraging property developers to build properties and lease them to the government.

Social housing_Rebuild Ireland

The standard leasing scheme offers a lease term of 10-25 years. The Irish government (the lessee) will pay 80-85% of an agreed market rent which will be reviewed every three years and is linked to the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), an indicator of inflation harmonised across EU countries.

In 2018, the Irish government launched the Enhanced Long Term Social Housing Leasing Scheme as an addition to the existing leasing arrangements. The enhanced scheme offers a 25-year lease term with up to 95% of the agreed market rent, but in return, each proposal has to include a minimum of 20 property units, and the lessor (developer) is obliged to provide management services.

Bartra was interviewed on RTÉ One, Ireland’s national broadcaster about Government long term leasing of social housing

Backed by the Irish government, the leasing scheme provides high investment stability for social housing investment. It also explains why institutional investors such as pension funds and annuity funds are acquiring long-term leased social houses from developers. Nonetheless, the benefits of investing in social housing go far beyond stability:

  • No RTB registration
    As required by law, property owners must register each tenancy with the Residential Tenancy Board (RTB), costing €90 per tenancy with a late fee of €180. For long-term social housing leasing agreements however, there is no such requirement.
  • No maintenance needed
    According to the standard leasing scheme, the property owner (the lessor) is not be responsible for maintenance after the first six months of the lease.
    *Not applicable to the enhanced leasing scheme
  • No rent loss due to vacancy
    For private property owners, there is a rent loss each time a tenant leaves as they need to find a replacement, which comes with advertising costs. For social housing, while vacancy is unlikely given the length of the housing list, there is nevertheless no rent loss due to vacant periods as the rent is guaranteed.
  • No property tax
    The local authorities or approved housing body are liable for property tax if the lease term is more than 20 years, not the property owners.

Bartra’s Social Housing Projects

As one of the leading developers in Ireland, Bartra is committed to providing high-quality social housing for families in need. All of our social housing projects are located in Dublin and are constructed by seasoned professionals including architects, planners, quantity surveyors, and construction companies. Majority of our projects will be leased to the Irish government for 25 years, therefore the income is guaranteed.

Social housing development and exit process

Bartra’s latest social housing development is Colmcille House, in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. Completed in April 2021, the development is located in a prime area of Dublin, within walking distance of Smithfield LUAS stop, and offers a total of 23 apartments situated less than 2km from the city centre. It has wonderful views over the city. At Bartra, we believe that every resident deserves a high quality of life, so every unit in Colmcille House is beautifully designed and 15-20% larger than most apartments in the area.

Bartra’s complex in Stoneybatter was funded by the IIP

Despite the benefits of investing in social housing, it is difficult for individual investors to participate. However, there is the opportunity to participate in Bartra’s social housing projects through the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). At maturity of your three-year investment period, your total €1 million investment will be returned, along with Permanent Residency status for you and your family.

Contact us to learn more about our social housing projects and the IIP programme.Next Article

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“Penny universities”. UCD today for second dose of AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine. I got lost but met an elderly gent with his dog going for a coffee outside, near the location for the vaccine centre. This article from the Guardian is essential reading, about the history, and the addiction, the ceremony and how we adapted to change. Coffee shops during COVID-19 lockdowns especially continued to serve coffee – outside became the new fashion and people gathered.

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View from above coffee with swirling cream

Photograph: Jonathan Knowles/Getty ImagesThe long read

The invisible addiction: is it time to give up caffeine?

Caffeine makes us more energetic, efficient and faster. But we have become so dependent that we need it just to get to our baselineby Michael Pollan

Tue 6 Jul 2021 06.00 BST

Last modified on Mon 12 Jul 2021 14.28 BST

After years of starting the day with a tall morning coffee, followed by several glasses of green tea at intervals, and the occasional cappuccino after lunch, I quit caffeine, cold turkey. It was not something that I particularly wanted to do, but I had come to the reluctant conclusion that the story I was writing demanded it. Several of the experts I was interviewing had suggested that I really couldn’t understand the role of caffeine in my life – its invisible yet pervasive power – without getting off it and then, presumably, getting back on. Roland Griffiths, one of the world’s leading researchers of mood-altering drugs, and the man most responsible for getting the diagnosis of “caffeine withdrawal” included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the bible of psychiatric diagnoses, told me he hadn’t begun to understand his own relationship with caffeine until he stopped using it and conducted a series of self-experiments. He urged me to do the same.

For most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness. Something like 90% of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, and the only one we routinely give to children (commonly in the form of fizzy drinks). Few of us even think of it as a drug, much less our daily use of it as an addiction. It’s so pervasive that it’s easy to overlook the fact that to be caffeinated is not baseline consciousness but, in fact, an altered state. It just happens to be a state that virtually all of us share, rendering it invisible.

The scientists have spelled out, and I had duly noted, the predictable symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: headache, fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, decreased motivation, irritability, intense distress, loss of confidence and dysphoria. But beneath that deceptively mild rubric of “difficulty concentrating” hides nothing short of an existential threat to the work of the writer. How can you possibly expect to write anything when you can’t concentrate?

I postponed it as long as I could, but finally the dark day arrived. According to the researchers I’d interviewed, the process of withdrawal had actually begun overnight, while I was sleeping, during the “trough” in the graph of caffeine’s diurnal effects. The day’s first cup of tea or coffee acquires most of its power – its joy! – not so much from its euphoric and stimulating properties than from the fact that it is suppressing the emerging symptoms of withdrawal. This is part of the insidiousness of caffeine. Its mode of action, or “pharmacodynamics”, mesh so perfectly with the rhythms of the human body that the morning cup of coffee arrives just in time to head off the looming mental distress set in motion by yesterday’s cup of coffee. Daily, caffeine proposes itself as the optimal solution to the problem caffeine creates. https://www.theguardian.com/email/form/plaintone/the-long-readSign up to the long read weekly emailAdvertisementhttps://e80ef70dfb10d56de613b0b502418087.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

At the coffee shop, instead of my usual “half caff”, I ordered a cup of mint tea. And on this morning, that lovely dispersal of the mental fog that the first hit of caffeine ushers into consciousness never arrived. The fog settled over me and would not budge. It’s not that I felt terrible – I never got a serious headache – but all day long I felt a certain muzziness, as if a veil had descended in the space between me and reality, a kind of filter that absorbed certain wavelengths of light and sound.

I was able to do some work, but distractedly. “I feel like an unsharpened pencil,” I wrote in my notebook. “Things on the periphery intrude, and won’t be ignored. I can’t focus for more than a minute.”

Over the course of the next few days, I began to feel better, the veil lifted, yet I was still not quite myself, and neither, quite, was the world. In this new normal, the world seemed duller to me. I seemed duller, too. Mornings were the worst. I came to see how integral caffeine is to the daily work of knitting ourselves back together after the fraying of consciousness during sleep. That reconsolidation of self took much longer than usual, and never quite felt complete.


Humanity’s acquaintance with caffeine is surprisingly recent. But it is hardly an exaggeration to say that this molecule remade the world. The changes wrought by coffee and tea occurred at a fundamental level – the level of the human mind. Coffee and tea ushered in a shift in the mental weather, sharpening minds that had been fogged by alcohol, freeing people from the natural rhythms of the body and the sun, thus making possible whole new kinds of work and, arguably, new kinds of thought, too.Advertisementhttps://e80ef70dfb10d56de613b0b502418087.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

By the 15th century, coffee was being cultivated in east Africa and traded across the Arabian peninsula. Initially, the new drink was regarded as an aide to concentration and used by Sufis in Yemen to keep them from dozing off during their religious observances. (Tea, too, started out as a little helper for Buddhist monks striving to stay awake through long stretches of meditation.) Within a century, coffeehouses had sprung up in cities across the Arab world. In 1570 there were more than 600 of them in Constantinople alone, and they spread north and west with the Ottoman empire.

The Islamic world at this time was in many respects more advanced than Europe, in science and technology, and in learning. Whether this mental flourishing had anything to do with the prevalence of coffee (and prohibition of alcohol) is difficult to prove, but as the German historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch has argued, the beverage “seemed to be tailor-​made for a culture that forbade alcohol consumption and gave birth to modern mathematics”.

A coffee house in 17th-century London.

A coffee house in 17th-century London. Photograph: Lordprice Collection/AlamyAdvertisementhttps://e80ef70dfb10d56de613b0b502418087.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

In 1629 the first coffeehouses in Europe, styled on Arab and Turkish models, popped up in Venice, and the first such establishment in England was opened in Oxford in 1650 by a Jewish immigrant. They arrived in London shortly thereafter, and proliferated: within a few decades there were thousands of coffeehouses in London; at their peak, one for every 200 Londoners.

To call the English coffeehouse a new kind of public space doesn’t quite do it justice. You paid a penny for the coffee, but the information – in the form of newspapers, books, magazines and conversation – was free. (Coffeehouses were often referred to as “penny universities”.) After visiting London coffeehouses, a French writer named Maximilien Misson wrote, “You have all Manner of News there; You have a good fire, which you may sit by as long as you please: You have a Dish of Coffee; you meet your Friends for the Transaction of Business, and all for a Penny, if you don’t care to spend more.”

London’s coffeehouses were distinguished one from another by the professional or intellectual interests of their patrons, which eventually gave them specific institutional identities. So, for example, merchants and men with interests in shipping gathered at Lloyd’s Coffee House. Here you could learn what ships were arriving and departing, and buy an insurance policy on your cargo. Lloyd’s Coffee House eventually became the insurance brokerage Lloyd’s of London. Learned types and scientists – known then as “natural philosophers” – gathered at the Grecian, which became closely associated with the Royal Society; Isaac Newton and Edmond Halley debated physics and mathematics here, and supposedly once dissected a dolphin on the premises.

The conversation in London’s coffee houses frequently turned to politics, in vigorous exercises of free speech that drew the ire of the government, especially after the monarchy was restored in 1660. Charles II, worried that plots were being hatched in coffeehouses, decided that the places were dangerous fomenters of rebellion that the crown needed to suppress. In 1675 the king moved to close down the coffeehouses, on the grounds that the “false, malicious and scandalous Reports” emanating therefrom were a “Disturbance of the Quiet and Peace of the Realm”. Like so many other compounds that change the qualities of consciousness in individuals, caffeine was regarded as a threat to institutional power, which moved to suppress it, in a foreshadowing of the wars against drugs to come.

But the king’s war against coffee lasted only 11 days. Charles discovered that it was too late to turn back the tide of caffeine. By then the coffeehouse was such a fixture of English culture and daily life – and so many eminent Londoners had become addicted to caffeine – that everyone simply ignored the king’s order and blithely went on drinking coffee. Afraid to test his authority and find it lacking, the king quietly backed down, issuing a second proclamation rolling back the first “out of princely consideration and royal compassion”.Advertisementhttps://e80ef70dfb10d56de613b0b502418087.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

It’s hard to imagine that the sort of political, cultural and intellectual ferment that bubbled up in the coffeehouses of both France and England in the 17th century would ever have developed in a tavern. The kind of magical thinking that alcohol sponsored in the medieval mind began to yield to a new spirit of rationalism and, a bit later, Enlightenment thinking. French historian Jules Michelet wrote: “Coffee, the sober drink, the mighty nourishment of the brain, which unlike other spirits, heightens purity and lucidity; coffee, which clears the clouds of the imagination and their gloomy weight; which illumines the reality of things suddenly with the flash of truth.”

To see, lucidly, “the reality of things”: this was, in a nutshell, the rationalist project. Coffee became, along with the microscope, telescope and the pen, one of its indispensable tools.


After a few weeks, the mental impairments of withdrawal had subsided, and I could once again think in a straight line, hold an abstraction in my head for more than two minutes, and shut peripheral thoughts out of my field of attention. Yet I continued to feel as though I was mentally just slightly behind the curve, especially when in the company of drinkers of coffee and tea, which, of course, was all the time and everywhere.

Here’s what I was missing: I missed the way caffeine and its rituals used to order my day, especially in the morning. Herbal teas – which are barely, if at all, psychoactive – lack the power of coffee and tea to organise the day into a rhythm of energetic peaks and valleys, as the mental tide of caffeine ebbs and flows. The morning surge is a blessing, obviously, but there is also something comforting in the ebb tide of afternoon, which a cup of tea can gently reverse.

At some point I began to wonder if perhaps it was all in my head, this sense that I had lost a mental step since getting off coffee and tea. So I decided to look at the science, to learn what, if any, cognitive enhancement can actually be attributed to caffeine. I found numerous studies conducted over the years reporting that caffeine improves performance on a range of cognitive measures – of memory, focus, alertness, vigilance, attention and learning. An experiment done in the 1930s found that chess players on caffeine performed significantly better than players who abstained. In another study, caffeine users completed a variety of mental tasks more quickly, though they made more errors; as one paper put it in its title, people on caffeine are “faster, but not smarter”. In a 2014 experiment, subjects given caffeine immediately after learning new material remembered it better than subjects who received a placebo. Tests of psychomotor abilities also suggest that caffeine gives us an edge: in simulated driving exercises, caffeine improves performance, especially when the subject is tired. It also enhances physical performance on such metrics as time trials, muscle strength and endurance.Advertisement

True, there is reason to take these findings with a pinch of salt, if only because this kind of research is difficult to do well. The problem is finding a good control group in a society in which virtually everyone is addicted to caffeine. But the consensus seems to be that caffeine does improve mental (and physical) performance to some degree.

Whether caffeine also enhances creativity is a different question, however, and there’s some reason to doubt that it does. Caffeine improves our focus and ability to concentrate, which surely enhances linear and abstract thinking, but creativity works very differently. It may depend on the loss of a certain kind of focus, and the freedom to let the mind off the leash of linear thought.

Cognitive psychologists sometimes talk in terms of two distinct types of consciousness: spotlight consciousness, which illuminates a single focal point of attention, making it very good for reasoning, and lantern consciousness, in which attention is less focused yet illuminates a broader field of attention. Young children tend to exhibit lantern consciousness; so do many people on psychedelics. This more diffuse form of attention lends itself to mind wandering, free association, and the making of novel connections – all of which can nourish creativity. By comparison, caffeine’s big contribution to human progress has been to intensify spotlight consciousness – the focused, linear, abstract and efficient cognitive processing more closely associated with mental work than play. This, more than anything else, is what made caffeine the perfect drug not only for the age of reason and the Enlightenment, but for the rise of capitalism, too.

The power of caffeine to keep us awake and alert, to stem the natural tide of exhaustion, freed us from the circadian rhythms of our biology and so, along with the advent of artificial light, opened the frontier of night to the possibilities of work.

What coffee did for clerks and intellectuals, tea would soon do for the English working class. Indeed, it was tea from the East Indies – heavily sweetened with sugar from the West Indies – that fuelled the Industrial Revolution. We think of England as a tea culture, but coffee, initially the cheaper beverage by far, dominated at first.

Soon after the British East India Company began trading with China, cheap tea flooded England. A beverage that only the well-to-do could afford to drink in 1700 was by 1800 consumed by virtually everyone, from the society matron to the factory worker.

Tea pickers in Assam, India.

Tea pickers in Assam, India. Photograph: AFP/GettyAdvertisementhttps://e80ef70dfb10d56de613b0b502418087.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

To supply this demand required an imperialist enterprise of enormous scale and brutality, especially after the British decided it would be more profitable to turn India, its colony, into a tea producer, than to buy tea from the Chinese. This required first stealing the secrets of tea production from the Chinese (a mission accomplished by the renowned Scots botanist and plant explorer Robert Fortune, disguised as a mandarin); seizing land from peasant farmers in Assam (where tea grew wild), and then forcing the farmers into servitude, picking tea leaves from dawn to dusk. The introduction of tea to the west was all about exploitation – the extraction of surplus value from labour, not only in its production in India, but in its consumption by the British as well.

Tea allowed the British working class to endure long shifts, brutal working conditions and more or less constant hunger; the caffeine helped quiet the hunger pangs, and the sugar in it became a crucial source of calories. (From a strictly nutritional standpoint, workers would have been better off sticking with beer.) The caffeine in tea helped create a new kind of worker, one better adapted to the rule of the machine. It is difficult to imagine an Industrial Revolution without it.


So how exactly does coffee, and caffeine more generally, make us more energetic, efficient and faster? How could this little molecule possibly supply the human body energy without calories? Could caffeine be the proverbial free lunch, or do we pay a price for the mental and physical energy – the alertness, focus and stamina – that caffeine gives us?

Alas, there is no free lunch. It turns out that caffeine only appears to give us energy. Caffeine works by blocking the action of adenosine, a molecule that gradually accumulates in the brain over the course of the day, preparing the body to rest. Caffeine molecules interfere with this process, keeping adenosine from doing its job – and keeping us feeling alert. But adenosine levels continue to rise, so that when the caffeine is eventually metabolised, the adenosine floods the body’s receptors and tiredness returns. So the energy that caffeine gives us is borrowed, in effect, and eventually the debt must be paid back.

For as long as people have been drinking coffee and tea, medical authorities have warned about the dangers of caffeine. But until now, caffeine has been cleared of the most serious charges against it. The current scientific consensus is more than reassuring – in fact, the research suggests that coffee and tea, far from being deleterious to our health, may offer some important benefits, as long as they aren’t consumed to excess. Regular coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of several cancers (including breast, prostate, colorectal and endometrial), cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, dementia and possibly depression and suicide. (Though high doses can produce nervousness and anxiety, and rates of suicide climb among those who drink eight or more cups a day.)

My review of the medical literature on coffee and tea made me wonder if my abstention might be compromising not only my mental function but my physical health, as well. However, that was before I spoke to Matt Walker.

An English neuroscientist on the faculty at University of California, Berkeley, Walker, author of Why We Sleep, is single-minded in his mission: to alert the world to an invisible public-health crisis, which is that we are not getting nearly enough sleep, the sleep we are getting is ofpoor quality, and a principal culprit in this crime against body and mind is caffeine. Caffeine itself might not be bad for you, but the sleep it’s stealing from you may have a price. According to Walker, research suggests that insufficient sleep may be a key factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, stroke, heart failure, depression, anxiety, suicide and obesity. “The shorter you sleep,” he bluntly concludes, “the shorter your lifespan.”

Walker grew up in England drinking copious amounts of black tea, morning, noon and night. He no longer consumes caffeine, save for the small amounts in his occasional cup of decaf. In fact, none of the sleep researchers or experts on circadian rhythms I interviewed for this story use caffeine.

a sign reading ‘coffee - you can sleep when you’re dead’ close to a coffee machine

Photograph: Stockimo/Alamy

Walker explained that, for most people, the “quarter life” of caffeine is usually about 12 hours, meaning that 25% of the caffeine in a cup of coffee consumed at noon is still circulating in your brain when you go to bed at midnight. That could well be enough to completely wreck your deep sleep.

I thought of myself as a pretty good sleeper before I met Walker. At lunch he probed me about my sleep habits. I told him I usually get a solid seven hours, fall asleep easily, dream most nights.

“How many times a night do you wake up?” he asked. I’m up three or four times a night (usually to pee), but I almost always fall right back to sleep.

He nodded gravely. “That’s really not good, all those interruptions. Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity.” The interruptions were undermining the amount of “deep” or “slow wave” sleep I was getting, something above and beyond the REM sleep I had always thought was the measure of a good night’s rest. But it seems that deep sleep is just as important to our health, and the amount we get tends to decline with age.

Caffeine is not the sole cause of our sleep crisis; screens, alcohol (which is as hard on REM sleep as caffeine is on deep sleep), pharmaceuticals, work schedules, noise and light pollution, and anxiety can all play a role in undermining both the duration and quality of our sleep. But here’s what’s uniquely insidious about caffeine: the drug is not only a leading cause of our sleep deprivation; it is also the principal tool we rely on to remedy the problem. Most of the caffeine consumed today is being used to compensate for the lousy sleep that caffeine causes – which means that caffeine is helping to hide from our awareness the very problem that caffeine creates.


The time came to wrap up my experiment in caffeine deprivation. I was eager to see what a body that had been innocent of caffeine for three months would experience when subjected to a couple of shots of espresso. I had thought long and hard about what kind of coffee I would get, and where. I opted for a “special”, my local coffee shop’s term for a double-​shot espresso made with less steamed milk than a typical cappuccino; it’s more commonly known as a flat white.

My special was unbelievably good, a ringing reminder of what a poor counterfeit decaf is; here were whole dimensions and depths of flavour that I had completely forgotten about. Everything in my visual field seemed pleasantly italicised, filmic, and I wondered if all these people with their cardboard-sleeve-swaddled cups had any idea what a powerful drug they were sipping. But how could they?

They had long ago become habituated to caffeine, and were now using it for another purpose entirely. Baseline maintenance, that is, plus a welcome little lift. I felt lucky that this more powerful experience was available to me. This – along with the stellar sleeps – was the wonderful dividend of my investment in abstention.

And yet in a few days’ time I would be them, caffeine-tolerant and addicted all over again. I wondered: was there any way to preserve the power of this drug? Could I devise a new relationship with caffeine? Maybe treat it more like a psychedelic – say, something to be taken only on occasion, and with a greater degree of ceremony and intention. Maybe just drink coffee on Saturdays? Just the one.

nespresso pods

Read more

When I got home I tackled my to-do list with unaccustomed fervour, harnessing the surge of energy – of focus! – coursing through me, and put it to good use. I compulsively cleared and decluttered – on the computer, in my closet, in the garden and the shed. I raked, I weeded, I put things in order, as if I were possessed. Whatever I focused on, I focused on zealously and single-mindedly.

Around noon, my compulsiveness began to subside, and I felt ready for a change of scene. I had yanked a few plants out of the vegetable garden that were not pulling their weight, and decided to go to the garden centre to buy some replacements. It was during the drive that I realised the true reason I was heading to this particular garden centre: it had this Airstream trailer parked out front that served really good espresso.

This article was amended on 8 July 2021 to include mention of the Turkish influence on early European coffeehouses.

This is an edited extract from This Is Your Mind on Plants: Opium-Caffeine-Mescaline by Michael Pollan, published by Allen Lane on 8 July and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk

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Science: COVID-19 progression through compression in medical research

Eric Topol @EricTopolThis will go down in history as one of science and medical research’s greatest achievements. Perhaps the most impressive. I put together a preliminary timeline of some key milestones to show how several years of work were compressed into months.

Imageso

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11th July 2021: De Valera … Centenary of TRUCE. Prime Minister Lloyd George’s invitation accepted.

Source:

National Archives, Ireland@NARIreland· As we continue to commemorate the centenary of the Truce here is a typescript copy of a deciphered message concerning the acceptance of the Truce by Éamon de Valera from 9th July 1921, NAI ref: DE/2/247/22

Typescript copy of deciphered message concerning the acceptance of the truce by Éamon de Valera 9 July 1921, DE/2/247/22
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Centenary of Truce Ireland moves forward on 11th July 2021: Google search: my grandfather was legal adviser to de Valera; he travelled to Kansas with Arthur Griffith in 1916; he was involved in the Sinn Fein Courts, as they were often referred to. Some more history for me about a man I am named after but never met. The roundabout way of life as you get older is most intriguing – instead of thinking about years you move into centuries looking for trends to indentify with.

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Revisiting the Red Cow Murders, October 7, 1922

John_Dorney 22 November, 2017 Irish History, The Irish Civil War https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?action=like&app_id=&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fx%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2F%3Fversion%3D46%23cb%3Df41c8bdabd7158%26domain%3Dwww.theirishstory.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.theirishstory.com%252Ff320a1186703e%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=83&font=arial&height=25&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theirishstory.com%2F2017%2F11%2F22%2Frevisiting-the-red-cow-murders-october-7-1922%2F&layout=button_count&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&send=false&share=false&show_faces=false&width=90https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.06c6ee58c3810956b7509218508c7b56.en-gb.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en-gb&original_referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theirishstory.com%2F2017%2F11%2F22%2Frevisiting-the-red-cow-murders-october-7-1922%2F%23.YOiYCEzTWUl&size=m&text=Revisiting%20the%20Red%20Cow%20Murders%2C%20October%207%2C%201922%20%E2%80%93%20The%20Irish%20Story%3A&time=1625856009052&type=share&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theirishstory.com%2F2017%2F11%2F22%2Frevisiting-the-red-cow-murders-october-7-1922%2F%23.YOiYCCkHHid.twitter&via=TheIrishStoryShare173

Free State troops outside Wellington Barracks in an armoured patrol car

New evidence on a disturbing killing during the Irish Civil War. By John Dorney.

On October 7 1922, in the middle of the Irish Civil War, three young anti Treatyites Edwin (or Eamon) Hughes (17), Brendan Holohan (17) Joe Rogers (16) were arrested by National Army troop under Charlie Dalton in the Dublin suburb of Drumcondra. They were in the act of putting up posters calling for the killing of ‘Free State forces’ … ‘the murder gang also known as military intelligence and so-called CID men’.[1]

The following morning their lifeless bodies were found at the Red Cow townland, south west of Dublin city. Hughes and Holohan had been shot four times each. Rogers, who seems to have tried to get away, was found some distance away from the others, shot sixteen times.[2]

Three young anti-Treatyites were arrested and later found shot dead and dumped at the Red Cow, outside Dublin.

It was one of the most distressing atrocities of a dirty, internecine war in Dublin. The Freeman’s Journal lamented ‘hardly a week goes by without some ghastly incident … proof of the demoralisation of the nation, where is it all to end?’ [3] The Irish Independent called for the killers to be ‘brought to justice’ and urged the public to come forward to aid in ‘putting a stop to this lamentable unchristian state of things.’[4]

I wrote in my recent history of the period, The Civil War in Dublin of the incident, ‘These were particularly callous killings. Aside from the youth of the victims, the boys had been unarmed and had posed no physical threat to the troops who captured them.’[5]

However, a new batch of pension records was released to the public by the Military archives this October has shed some new light on the case.

Eamonn Hughes and Brendan Holohan

‘The Murder Members’ -the Anti-Treaty IRA threatens TDs who voted for emergency legislation authorising executions.

Eamonn (born Edwin) Hughes was 17 at the time of his death and lived with his parents at 107 Clonliffe Road in Drumcondra in Dublin’s northern suburbs. The family were members of the city’s respectable lower middle class.

His father was a clerk in the Department of Industry and Commerce and his mother was a music teacher. They, according to Eamon’s bother Gary, ‘always facilitated their son’s aspirations in spite of the danger and home disturbance.’ Eamonn himself was an apprentice dentist.[6]

His parents appear to have been devastated by his death. His mother seems to have suffered from a breakdown, could no longer teach music classes and according to her doctor, no longer felt able to leave her house. His father also developed chronic heart problems within two years of his son’s death. By 1933, when, with Fianna Fail in power, anti-Treatyites could apply for pensions, they were described as ‘practically destitute’.

Eamonn Hughes joined the Republican youth wing the Fianna in December 1920 and in May 1921, just two months before the Truce with the British, transferred to the IRA proper, where he was used as a scout. His direct superior in the Dublin Brigade, IRA 2nd Battalion, Michael Murphy, testified that he was a ‘sergeant’ (a term not usually used in the IRA) despite his young age and was ‘of excellent character.’

Murphy stated to the Pensions Board in 1933 that, ‘while acting under orders he was arrested by Free State troops on Clonliffe Road. He was armed at the time’. [7]

A statement, just made public, by Hughes’ IRA officer to the Pension Board, says he was armed when he was arrested.

Brendan Holohan, one of the other boys killed Red Cow, was ‘Truce’ Volunteer, joining the IRA in April 1922,  just as the guerrilla army was splitting apart over the Treaty. His background was very similar to that of his friend Eamonn Hughes, he was of lower middle class stock, from the northern suburbs of Dublin and was employed as County Clerk.

His Battalion Officer Commanding Tom Burke, stated that when he was arrested he was ‘on an intelligence patrol’.

Joe Rogers (the third victim)’s family do not appear to have filed a pension request.

The Pensions Board concluded in the case of both Hughes and Holohan, ‘His body was found riddled with bullets at Red Cow, Clondalkin, Co Dublin… The Board, from confidential inquiries made, are satisfied that his death was a s a result of his activities with Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA)’. [8]

This information then, while in no way lessening the tragedy of the deaths of the three teenagers, or excusing their killers, does complicate the story of three innocent boys shot for putting up posters. Thus, it is worth looking at the case again.

The facts of the case: ‘Murdered and thrown in a ditch’

Charlie Dalton on the right, pictured with his brother Emmet, both in National Army uniform.

On 7 October 1922, Charlie Dalton (Deputy head of National Army Intelligence, along with Nicholas Tobin (brother of Liam, Army Director of Intelligence) and a driver Feehan, on a routine patrol, picked up Hughes Holohan and Rogers in Drumcondra, close to their homes.

At the inquest, the court was told that three had agreed to take over the job of postering from Jenny O’Toole, a local Republican girl, due to her being abused by the public. ‘She had mud flung at her’ as well as verbal abuse. The boys carried copies of the underground anti-Treaty newspaper, Poblacht na hEireann, and the posters allegedly called for the killing of ‘Free State forces’ … ‘the murder gang also known as military intelligence and so-called CID men’.[9]

It is not clear how this story squares with the testimony to the Pensions Board that one of the young man was armed and that they were on an ‘intelligence patrol’. If both things are true then them taking over postering as well was the height of foolishness.

One can imagine the rage of Dalton and Tobin upon reading the incitements to kill them and their colleagues. This combined with finding Hughe’s revolver might have sealed their fate. However, the youths were not killed on the spot, but formally taken prisoner and, along with a couple of other prisoners picked up on Harcourt Street, were driven back to Wellington Barracks, headquarters of Army Intelligence.

The three boys were taken into custody at Wellington Barracks, where troops stated they were questioned for twenty minutes and let go. They were never seen alive again.

There, Dalton later testified, they were handed over to fellow veterans of pre-Truce IRA Intelligence, Seán O’Connell and James Slattery, now both Military Intelligence officers. A Captain Corrigan testified that the three boys were released after twenty minutes, having been interrogated by an officer named Seán Murphy.[10]

The following day, a National Army patrol from the Tallaght Camp found their bodies in a quarry near Clondalkin.[11] Someone had driven them from Wellington out to the quarry, near the Red Cow townland and shot them dead.[12]

The Naas Road area was where at least four other anti-Treaty prisoners were also assassinated during the Civil War. The suspicion then and ever since, was that Charlie Dalton the arresting officer had ordered their deaths. This, it was never possible to prove.

A CID Car outside Wellington Barracks, where the youths were brought for questioning.

Among all the anonymous killings taking place at the time, the Red Cow murders were very unusual.

As the victims were first formally taken prisoner and logged at Wellington Barracks, National Army officers were identified by name at the Inquest, where Republican counsel Michael Comyn called on the jury to reach a verdict of wilful murder against Charlie Dalton, who could then be charged with the killings. Dalton was briefly placed under arrest by the Criminal Investigation Department or CID.

The inquest though became something of a farce, with stonewall obstruction by the Army personnel and both Comyn and Tim Healy, the barrister representing Charlie Dalton, using it as a platform for the partisan position of their employers in the Civil War. Michael Comyn, cross examining an un-cooperative National Army officer was told: ‘the Black and Tans didn’t make me answer and you won’t’ – refusing to give a list of prisoners taken at Wellington Barracks that night.

Comyn replied with bluster: ‘you are one of the King’s officers are you not?’ You were in the ‘cease-to-do-evil’? [Wellington Barracks[13]] You do know that Poblacht na hEireann [the anti-Treaty newspaper] is sold in shops don’t you?’

When Comyn pressed the officer as to whether he had told the court everything that had happened in the Barracks that night, Healy instructed the unnamed officer: ‘do not answer.’ Healy argued ‘there was no inquest on Michael Collins’. To which Comyn replied ‘he died like a soldier, he died in battle.’ His colleague Mr Black added: ‘he was not murdered and thrown in a ditch.’[14]

National Army officers refused to answer questions at the inquest which judged that the youths were killed ‘by persons unknown’.

Summing up his own case Healy objected that, ‘you would think the country was not in a state of war and the three were harmless.’ He alleged that Charlie Dalton stood accused only because his brother Emmet was a senior National Army commander. He continued that it was the anti-Treaty side that had started the Civil War and who, he asked could now ‘set a boundary to the march of extermination?’ ‘Was it surprising that three members of the Republican Army were found dead?’ he asked.

Whether Dalton personally gave the order to kill Hughes, Holohan and Rogers, in the absence of witnesses who were willing to talk, it was impossible to prove. The jury at the Inquest ruled that the three Fianna boys were ‘killed by gunshots fired by persons unknown.’ Dalton was back at his duties as head of Eastern Command Intelligence by late November.

Nicholas Tobin, the other arresting officer, was killed shortly afterwards in a raid on an anti-Treaty bomb making factory on Gardiner Street, apparently shot accidentally by his own troops.[15]

Making sense of the killings?

Alf Colley and Sean Cole, Fianna activists killed by Free State forces in August 1922

None of this, however, quite explains why the Red Cow killings occurred. Why would anyone gun down three harmless youths for putting up posters?

In light of the new evidence we now have from the anti-Treaty IRA, we now know that Hughes may well have been armed on the night and Holohan was ‘on an intelligence patrol’. A CID officer named Charles Murphy alleged at the inquest one the three boys was carrying a revolver, and we now know that this was possibly true.

It might help to explain the subsequent killings somewhat, along with the bloodthirsty calls for the shooting of Free State officers on the posters they were putting up, but in some ways it raises more questions than answers.

In September 1922 the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State had passed emergency legislation allowing for the execution of anyone founding possessing arms or ammunition ‘without the proper authority’ or ‘aiding and abetting attacks on state forces’. So if Hughes was carrying a revolver and if the other two boys could be shown to be aiding him they were certainly liable for internment if not (due to their age) execution by firing squad.

If Hughes was indeed armed at the time of his arrest, he could have been legally tried and executed by military court.

And yet, puzzlingly, Army officers testified at the inquest that they let the three prisoners go after twenty minutes’ questioning. Nor was the revolver that they allegedly took from Hughes ever produced.

So why illegally shoot three teenagers who could have been quite legally tried by military courts anyway?

One possible reason was that the National Army Intelligence, aware that the anti-Treaty IRA was topping up its depleted manpower by mobilising the Fianna, was intent on terrorising that organisation into quiescence. Fianna leaders Sean Cole and Alfred Colley had been among the first assassinations of anti-Treatyites in Dublin in August 1922.

Frank Sherwin, a Fianna member captured after an attack on Wellington barracks in November 1922, was also brutally beaten there by Intelligence officers Joe Dolan and Frank Bolster and subsequently by Charlie Dalton in Portobello Barracks in an effort to get the name of his OC, Charlie O’Connor.[16]

It could be that the killings were simply the result of loss of temper, or drunken rage by young men who were, by this time, behaving in a very unstable, violent and erratic manner.

There seems to have been a particular personal animus against the Fianna on the part of pro-Treaty troops. In part this might be explained by the resentment against young ‘Trucileers’ who had not fought the British but were now prolonging pointlessly, in the pro-Treaty view, the Civil War.[17]

Dalton and his comrades, or whoever killed the three teenagers, were no doubt were filled with rage at the thought of one of their men dying at the hands of young boys who had never fought ‘the common enemy’. Already, hundreds of National Army soldiers had been killed in the war over the Treaty, some no doubt killed by youths as young as those who died at the Red Cow.

The National Graves memorial near Red Cow to Hughes Holohan and Rogers.

But it could be that the killings were simply the result of loss of temper, or drunken rage by young men who were, by this time, behaving in a very unstable, violent and erratic manner. They might have decided that a formal military court might have let the youths off as a result of their age and decided to dispense with formalities.

Much the same group of officers who were behind the ‘Murder Gang’ was also responsible for the widespread abuse of prisoners, especially at Wellington Barracks.[18] Up to twenty five anti-Treaty prisoners were killed by ‘persons unknown’ in Dublin during the Civil War, and over 100 nationally.

Not long after the Red Cow killings, Richard Mulcahy the Army Chief of Staff removed Charlie Dalton, Liam Tobin and many of the other pre-Truce IRA Intelligence officers from their positions directing Army Intelligence, citing their clannishness, secrecy and unwillingness to take orders from the Army command. The same group were later behind the attempted Army Mutiny of 1924.[19]

In all wars, reasons are found for the most brutal of killings. In Civil War, the sense of personal betrayal heightens such sentiments. The enemy becomes equated to a parasite within the healthy body of the nation that must be cut out. Anti-Treatyite Sean Lemass (whose brother Noel was assassinated, also by unknown gunmen) said of the Civil War much later, and probably wisely, ‘Terrible things were done by both sides’. ‘I’d prefer not to talk about it’.[20]

In writing about the Red Cow murders, this piece has no wish to stir up Civil War era animosities. No side was wholly innocent, not even the three youths murdered at Red Cow.

While today the Irish Civil War appears merely tragic and futile, during its course, both sides felt justified in doing things they previously would never have contemplated and later surely came to regret.

References

[1] Irish Times, 19 October 1922.

[2] Irish Times, 19 October 1922.

[3] Freeman’s Journal, 9 October 1922.

[4] Irish Independent, 10 October 1922.

[5][5] John Dorney the Civil War in Dublin p.187

[6] Eamonn Hughes Pension File DP4559

[7] Hughes Pension File

[8] DP 4496

[9] Irish Times, 19 October 1922.

[10] Irish Independent, 19 October 1922.

[11] Nation Army Eastern Command Operations reports September–December 1922, Military archives, CW/OPS/07/01.

[12] Irish Times, 19 October 1922.

[13] Wellington Barracks from 1813 up to the 1890s was a prison, Richmond Bridewell, and over the gate was written ‘cease to do evil, learn to do well’, hence the popular nickname, the ‘cease-to-do-evil’.

[14] Irish Independent, 19 October 1922.

[15] Irish Times, 28 October 1922. While it might be tempting to search for a conspiracy in Tobin’s death, accidents and ‘friendly fire’ were all too common in the National Army at this time. Six other soldiers died in this way in Dublin in September and October 1922 alone.

[16] Sherwin, Independent and Unrepentant, pp. 18–21.

[17] Gavin Foster, The Irish Civil War and Society, pp. 23–8, Foster argues that the youth and lack of ‘record’ in the war against the British of many young guerrillas provoked intense resentment on the part of pro-Treaty soldiers and politicians. Equally (pp. 28–9) he argues that the anti-Treatyites were held to be simply ‘young hooligans’. Both of these commonly held assumptions might have contributed in some manner to the Red Cow murders.

[18] See John Dorney the Civil War in Dublin, chapter 16, The Prison War.

[19] See John Dorney, The Civil War in Dublin, Chapters 19, The Wars within the War and 21, Monopolies of Force.

[20] https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/diarmaid-ferriter-after-commemoration-comes-the-hard-part-1.2595340abuseBrendan HolohanCharlie Dalton DeputyCivil WarEamonn HughesIRAIrish Free StateIrish TimesJoe RogersMichael ComynMilitary Intelligencemurder gangNational Army IntelligenceNicholas TobinOctoberprisonersRed CowRepublican ArmyThe Irish IndependentTreatyTruce VolunteerWellington Barracks

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12 Responses to “Revisiting the Red Cow Murders, October 7, 1922”

  1. patmonks says: 22 November, 2017 at 5:47 pm Sad piece really and brings home the horror that went. One can have pride in the ancestors involvement 1916 to 1923 but then the cold reality strikes home. Fair to say 1916 commemorations passed without generating open hostility. However, those who will be involved in commemorating the WOI and CW and those of remembering family will have to find ways to curb our enthusiasm or w will be responsible for awakening open wounds. Thanks for the article Reply
    1. John_Dorney says: 22 November, 2017 at 6:16 pm Thank you Pat. And yes, sensitivity will be required. Reply
  2. Dave phelan says: 23 November, 2017 at 12:35 am An excellent article. As my grandfather was a member of the C.I.D during that period, it is vital that historical perspective is used to view this period. He is pictured in the car in the front passenger seat. In the lead up to 2022 it is important to see these horrible times in context and not simply right or wrong. There is no black and white. I hope many more people will open up their family archives to full scrutiny in the interests of historical research.
    Dave phelan nephew of Joesph Kinsella Reply
  3. crissouli says: 23 November, 2017 at 9:31 pm I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at
    https://thatmomentintime-crissouli.blogspot.com/2017/11/friday-fossicking-24th-nov-2017.html Thank you, Chris Reply
  4. The Irish Story Archive on the Irish Civil war | The Irish Story says: 28 January, 2018 at 7:31 pm […] The Red Cow Murders revisited, October 7, 1922, by john Dorney. […] Reply
  5. Bob Webster says: 8 September, 2018 at 11:01 am Recall reading that the events of 1919/ 24 likely had an eventual devastating effect on the mental health of Charlie Dalton and he died a relatively young man as a consequence.
    Very comprehensive thought-provoking article. Reply
    1. John_Dorney says: 8 September, 2018 at 11:12 am Indeed they did. He developed acute paranoia as well as a serious alcohol problem and was declared ‘insane’ in the 1940s. Though he lived until 1974. His is a truly tragic story. You can read the details in his pension file in the Military pensions files. You can’t post the link but just type in Dalton. Charles. http://mspcsearch.militaryarchives.ie/search.aspx?formtype=advanced Reply
  6. Wellington Barracks, Dublin, 1922 – A Microcosm of the Irish Civil War | The Irish Story says: 18 December, 2018 at 11:44 am […] of those taken to Wellington never came back at all. On October 6, 1922, Dalton arrested three youths in Drumcondra, putting up Republican posters and […] Reply
  7. Des G says: 8 October, 2019 at 11:29 pm I think Charlie Dalton was present at the wedding of his brother Emmet to Alice Shannon in the Imperial hotel, Cork, early on the morning of Monday 9 October 1922. Reply
    1. John_Dorney says: 9 October, 2019 at 8:13 am So I’m told. But a. that leaves a whole day between shootings and him being in Cork. Even in 1922 the trip from Dublin to Cork took no more than a few hours. And b. as OC of intelligence in Wellington Barracks Dalton was responsible for what happened to prisoners there. And c. why, if Dalton was elsewhere, was this not introduced by his legal representative Tim Healy at the inquest? Reply
  8. The Army Mutiny of 1924 and the Opening of the Army Inquiry Papers – The Irish Story says: 17 December, 2019 at 5:48 pm […] anti-Treaty IRA) and many were also implicated in atrocities such as the killing of prisoners in Dublin, Cork and […] Reply
  9. liz carroll says: 29 October, 2020 at 3:10 pm Edwin Hughes was related to my family and we would like to know where the headstone is now situated
    Liz Carroll new Hughes Reply

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Source eurasiareview News & Analysis”…Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives…”. FT magazine last weekend: Graphic on just how surveillance intrudes in our lives

George Orwell’s 1984 Has Become A Blueprint For Our Dystopian Reality – OpEd

John W. Whitehead 1 Comment

By John W. Whitehead

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw.

By John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead

Tread cautiously: the fiction of George Orwell (Jun. 25, 1903-Jan. 21, 1950) has become an operation manual for the omnipresent, modern-day surveillance state.

It’s been more than 70 years since Orwell—dying, beset by fever and bloody coughing fits, and driven to warn against the rise of a society in which rampant abuse of power and mass manipulation are the norm—depicted the ominous rise of ubiquitous technology, fascism and totalitarianism in 1984.

Who could have predicted that so many years after Orwell typed the final words to his dystopian novel, “He loved Big Brother,” we would come to love Big Brother.

“To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone— to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink — greetings!”—George Orwell

1984 portrays a global society of total control in which people are not allowed to have thoughts that in any way disagree with the corporate state. There is no personal freedom, and advanced technology has become the driving force behind a surveillance-driven society. Snitches and cameras are everywhere. People are subject to the Thought Police, who deal with anyone guilty of thought crimes. The government, or “Party,” is headed by Big Brother who appears on posters everywhere with the words: “Big Brother is watching you.

We have arrived, way ahead of schedule, into the dystopian future dreamed up by not only Orwell but also such fiction writers as Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood and Philip K. Dick.

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”―George Orwell

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Much like Orwell’s Big Brother in 1984, the government and its corporate spies now watch our every move. Much like Huxley’s A Brave New World, we are churning out a society of watchers who “have their liberties taken away from them, but … rather enjoy it, because they [are] distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing.” Much like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the populace is now taught to “know their place and their duties, to understand that they have no real rights but will be protected up to a point if they conform, and to think so poorly of themselves that they will accept their assigned fate and not rebel or run away.”

And in keeping with Philip K. Dick’s darkly prophetic vision of a dystopian police state—which became the basis for Steven Spielberg’s futuristic thriller Minority Report—we are now trapped in a world in which the government is all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful, and if you dare to step out of line, dark-clad police SWAT teams and pre-crime units will crack a few skulls to bring the populace under control.

What once seemed futuristic no longer occupies the realm of science fiction.

Incredibly, as the various nascent technologies employed and shared by the government and corporations alike—facial recognition, iris scanners, massive databases, behavior prediction software, and so on—are incorporated into a complex, interwoven cyber network aimed at tracking our movements, predicting our thoughts and controlling our behavior, the dystopian visions of past writers is fast becoming our reality.

Our world is characterized by widespread surveillance, behavior prediction technologies, data mining, fusion centers, driverless cars, voice-controlled homes, facial recognition systems, cybugs and drones, and predictive policing (pre-crime) aimed at capturing would-be criminals before they can do any damage.

Surveillance cameras are everywhere. Government agents listen in on our telephone calls and read our emails. Political correctness—a philosophy that discourages diversity—has become a guiding principle of modern society.

“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”―George Orwell

The courts have shredded the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In fact, SWAT teams battering down doors without search warrants and FBI agents acting as a secret police that investigate dissenting citizens are common occurrences in contemporary America. And bodily privacy and integrity have been utterly eviscerated by a prevailing view that Americans have no rights over what happens to their bodies during an encounter with government officials, who are allowed to search, seize, strip, scan, spy on, probe, pat down, taser, and arrest any individual at any time and for the slightest provocation.

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”―George Orwell, Animal Farm

We are increasingly ruled by multi-corporations wedded to the police state.

What many fail to realize is that the government is not operating alone. It cannot. The government requires an accomplice. Thus, the increasingly complex security needs of the massive federal government, especially in the areas of defense, surveillance and data management, have been met within the corporate sector, which has shown itself to be a powerful ally that both depends on and feeds the growth of governmental overreach.

In fact, Big Tech wedded to Big Government has become Big Brother, and we are now ruled by the Corporate Elite whose tentacles have spread worldwide. The government now has at its disposal technological arsenals so sophisticated and invasive as to render any constitutional protections null and void. Spearheaded by the NSA, which has shown itself to care little to nothing for constitutional limits or privacy, the “security/industrial complex”—a marriage of government, military and corporate interests aimed at keeping Americans under constant surveillance—has come to dominate the government and our lives.

Money, power, control. There is no shortage of motives fueling the convergence of mega-corporations and government. But who is paying the price? The American people, of course.

Orwell understood what many Americans are still struggling to come to terms with: that there is no such thing as a government organized for the good of the people. Even the best intentions among those in government inevitably give way to the desire to maintain power and control over the citizenry at all costs.

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell

Even our ability to speak and think freely is being regulated.

In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind.

Dystopian literature shows what happens when the populace is transformed into mindless automatons.

In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, reading is banned and books are burned in order to suppress dissenting ideas, while televised entertainment is used to anesthetize the populace and render them easily pacified, distracted and controlled.

In Huxley’s Brave New World, serious literature, scientific thinking and experimentation are banned as subversive, while critical thinking is discouraged through the use of conditioning, social taboos and inferior education. Likewise, expressions of individuality, independence and morality are viewed as vulgar and abnormal.

In my debut novel The Erik Blair Diaries, the dystopian future that George Orwell predicted for 1984 has finally arrived, 100 years late and ten times as brutal. In this post-apocalyptic world where everyone marches to the beat of the same drummer and words like “freedom” are taboo, Erik Blair—Orwell’s descendant and unwitting heir to his legacy—isn’t volunteering to be anyone’s hero. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always go according to plan. To save all that he loves, Orwell will have to travel between his future self and the past.

And in Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother does away with all undesirable and unnecessary words and meanings, even going so far as to routinely rewrite history and punish “thoughtcrimes.” Orwell’s Big Brother relies on Newspeak to eliminate undesirable words, strip such words as remained of unorthodox meanings and make independent, non-government-approved thought altogether unnecessary.

Where we stand now is at the juncture of OldSpeak (where words have meanings, and ideas can be dangerous) and Newspeak (where only that which is “safe” and “accepted” by the majority is permitted). The power elite has made their intentions clear: they will pursue and prosecute any and all words, thoughts and expressions that challenge their authority.

This is the final link in the police state chain.

“Until they became conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”—George Orwell

Having been reduced to a cowering citizenry—mute in the face of elected officials who refuse to represent us, helpless in the face of police brutality, powerless in the face of militarized tactics and technology that treat us like enemy combatants on a battlefield, and naked in the face of government surveillance that sees and hears all—we have nowhere left to go.

We have, so to speak, gone from being a nation where privacy is king to one where nothing is safe from the prying eyes of government.

“Big Brother is Watching You.”―George Orwell

Wherever you go and whatever you do, you are now being watched, especially if you leave behind an electronic footprint. When you use your cell phone, you leave a record of when the call was placed, who you called, how long it lasted and even where you were at the time. When you use your ATM card, you leave a record of where and when you used the card. There is even a video camera at most locations equipped with facial recognition software. When you use a cell phone or drive a car enabled with GPS, you can be tracked by satellite. Such information is shared with government agents, including local police. And all of this once-private information about your consumer habits, your whereabouts and your activities is now being fed to the government.

The government has nearly inexhaustible resources when it comes to tracking our movements, from electronic wiretapping devices, traffic cameras and biometrics to radio-frequency identification cards, satellites and Internet surveillance.

In such a climate, everyone is a suspect. And you’re guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. To underscore this shift in how the government now views its citizens, the FBI uses its wide-ranging authority to investigate individuals or groups, regardless of whether they are suspected of criminal activity. 

“Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.” ― George Orwell

Here’s what a lot of people fail to understand, however: it’s not just what you say or do that is being monitored, but how you think that is being tracked and targeted. We’ve already seen this play out on the state and federal level with hate crime legislation that cracks down on so-called “hateful” thoughts and expression, encourages self-censoring and reduces free debate on various subject matter. 

Say hello to the new Thought Police.

Total Internet surveillance by the Corporate State, as omnipresent as God, is used by the government to predict and, more importantly, control the populace, and it’s not as far-fetched as you might think. For example, the NSA has been working on an artificial intelligence system designed to anticipate your every move. Aquaint (the acronym stands for Advanced QUestion Answering for INTelligence) has been designed to detect patterns and predict behavior.

No information is sacred or spared.

Everything from cell phone recordings and logs, to emails, to text messages, to personal information posted on social networking sites, to credit card statements, to library circulation records, to credit card histories, etc., is collected by the NSA and shared freely with its agents in crime: the CIA, FBI and DHS.

What we are witnessing, in the so-called name of security and efficiency, is the creation of a new class system comprised of the watched (average Americans such as you and me) and the watchers (government bureaucrats, technicians and private corporations).

Clearly, the age of privacy in America is at an end.

So where does that leave us?

We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology, which answers not to us but to our government and corporate rulers. This is the fact-is-stranger-than-fiction lesson that is being pounded into us on a daily basis.

It won’t be long before we find ourselves looking back on the past with longing, back to an age where we could speak to whom we wanted, buy what we wanted, think what we wanted without those thoughts, words and activities being tracked, processed and stored by corporate giants such as Google, sold to government agencies such as the NSA and CIA, and used against us by militarized police with their army of futuristic technologies.

To be an individual today, to not conform, to have even a shred of privacy, and to live beyond the reach of the government’s roaming eyes and technological spies, one must not only be a rebel but rebel.

Even when you rebel and take your stand, there is rarely a happy ending awaiting you. You are rendered an outlaw. Just look at what happened to Julian Assange.

So how do you survive in the American surveillance state?

We’re running out of options.

Whether you’re dealing with fact or fiction, as I make clear in Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in my new novel The Erik Blair Diaries, we’ll soon have to choose between self-indulgence (the bread-and-circus distractions offered up by the news media, politicians, sports conglomerates, entertainment industry, etc.) and self-preservation in the form of renewed vigilance about threats to our freedoms and active engagement in self-governance.

John W. Whitehead

John Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law, human rights and popular culture. He is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

Financial Times magazine weekend: 27th/28th June 2021. Graphic contained in article.

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The Ditch: Highly recommend you follow this: As we are lost in misinformation; we urgently need to turn our attention to Health and the realities within. Title from this new site “The Ditch”: “One medical card. 22 million euros in charges. A ‘very profitable’ homeless clinic. I add to this: Bureaucracy is destroying Ireland. Last night two families slept out in Pearse Street station…Waste must be seen for what it is: Pope Francis albeit I am not religious refers to waste of food “as stealing from the poor” and I would add bureaucracy/silos in State owned departments and I include charities is also a theft from the most vulnerable.

The Ditch

One medical card. €22 million in charges. A ‘very profitable’ homeless clinic

Jun 26, 2021 13 min read

One medical card. €22 million in charges. A ‘very profitable’ homeless clinic

The HSE is reviewing a medical card next week. Its reviewers are going to decide whether they should keep this card in circulation. Though an HSE official as late as March 2021 thought this card belonged to a foster child born in 1960, it has in fact been formally registered to either a Dublin-based GP or a homelessness organisation since 2007.

This card has had a difficult past.

Back in 2013, HSE officials began raising concerns about how this card was being used since it had come into the possession of this Dublin GP, the founder and former chairperson of a homelessness healthcare charity. There was no transparency on the charges being made on the card and there were questions about whether its use was resulting in the HSE being double charged for certain medical procedures. One GP working for the homelessness charity wrote to the HSE in October 2020 to articulate her unease at how “profitable” its use had become over the years.  

The lack of transparency on the card was such that the HSE didn’t know until April this year how much had been charged to it.

There has been €22,404,819.52 charged to this single medical card since 2007.

It’s what’s known as a generic medical card. The HSE used to issue these generic cards to organisations such as women’s refuges and homeless hostels housing people with no medical cards. These generic cards were considered an easy way to bill the state for healthcare provision in instances where patients had neither medical cards nor the means to pay. Though the practice of issuing these cards stopped in 2011, there are still around 100 in circulation.

Of those still in use, the majority have relatively low charges made against them. The card with the second-highest charges has recorded a yearly average of €253,203.13 for the same period, 2007-2020.

The HSE had thought this particular card, card number K699982A, with six times as high a figure, was only being used sparingly after the fallout of a 2013 internal memo from the then HSE COO, which had resulted in investigations into serious governance issues with the card.

This medical card was associated with charity Safetynet Primary Care, which provides healthcare to homeless people, Travellers, Roma people and heavy drug users. Internal correspondence shows the HSE considered the charity’s founder, Dr Austin O’Carroll – Irish Paralympian, clinical lead for the Dublin Covid-19 homeless response and 2020 European GP of the year– responsible for it. In late 2013 after O’Carroll had to defend to the HSE charges put on the card, it had been assumed fees billed to it would decrease.

This didn’t happen. Charges continued to increase right through to 2020. Uncertainty over just who controls the card also increased after O’Carroll resigned from Safetynet and founded a new homelessness venture with former colleague Dr Kieran Harkin, in whose name the card is currently registered. O’Carroll’s resignation followed a corporate and clinical governance review of the charity.

“This was new to me,” as an HSE assistant national director put it in a December 2020 email to his colleagues after finally learning who had ultimate responsibility for this medical card.

The review the card faces next week isn’t special. Despite all the uncertainty, the concerns, the €22 million, it’s continued to pass reviews year after year. There aren’t any indications this particular review will be any different.

‘It is very profitable’: Safetynet medical director

Four men stood under an awning outside the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People on Bow Street in Dublin 7 at around 10am on a rainy May morning. As they waited in line to receive food parcels inside the centre’s main door, others came, went and knocked on a door at the other end of the centre.

The people knocking on the door at the centre’s tail end were there to see a chiropodist, nurse or dentist in a clinic run by the centre with the Mountjoy Family Practice, which is owned by Austin O’Carroll. The clinic until recently was advertised on Safetynet’s website as being affiliated to the charity, which O’Carroll founded but resigned from in 2016.

A clinic run by O’Carroll, in the same homeless centre, which provides healthcare for homeless people, had by late 2020 become “very profitable”, according to current Safetynet medical director Dr Angela Skuce in an October 2020 email to two senior HSE officials.

In Skuce’s email she copied her boss, Fiona O’Reilly, Safetynet’s current general manager. O’Reilly, a PhD and former research partner of O’Carroll, came to Safetynet after O’Carroll’s resignation. O’Reilly today says she doesn’t know why O’Carroll resigned from Safetynet when he did. “I don’t think there were reasons for the resignation,” she said.

O’Carroll’s resignation from Safetynet’s board came after the HSE raised serious questions about how the charity was being run. He still however works with the charity today. O’Reilly said O’Carroll is “recognised as a founding member of the organisation and a GP with significant experience and expertise in the area of homelessness”, and that Safetynet “works collaboratively with Dr O’Carroll and other healthcare providers in the homeless sector”.

After O’Carroll’s resignation he has continued to run clinics linked to the charity – the clinic in the Capuchin Centre being one.

Skuce in her email asked if the HSE would take responsibility for the clinic in the Capuchin Centre from O’Carroll and give it to Safetynet. She wrote that O’Carroll would accept this arrangement and went on to outline why she wanted this.  

“The GPs (in the clinic) have always been paid by Austin, who submits a claim… for every patient seen – it is very profitable. This profit element doesn’t fit with the ethos of the clinic, or the Capuchin centre – obviously,” wrote Skuce.

In the year Skuce sent her email, a total of €3,321,103.65 was charged to the generic card. The year before, €2,794,807.75 was charged. When asked where the profits referred to by Skuce went, O’Reilly declined to answer and said the clinic, after Skuce’s email to the HSE, moved to a not-for-profit model earlier this year.

The HSE didn’t keep records of the total charges to any of its generic medical cards, such as card number K699982A, until The Ditch asked for a breakdown.

The card itself is formally registered in the name of Dr Kieran Harkin, a former Safetynet colleague and co-founder with O’Carroll of GMQ Medical, a private partnership similar in mission to Safetynet. Figures released to The Ditch by the HSE however put this card in the name of Safetynet and Dr Austin O’Carroll.

It’s worth noting that the charges made to this card are distinct from the general medical services (GMS) fees paid to GPs, typically reported by Irish media each year. GMS fees are paid on the basis of the number of medical card patients seen by GPs in a given year, whereas the fees paid to generic medical cards are entirely separate. O’Carroll is one of the highest paid GMS GPs in the state, with €974,000 including practice support paid to him in 2020. The fees claimed on generic medical card K699982A are however a different matter.

Due to expire 30 September, 2021, generic medical card number K699982A now faces a review on 30 June.

Skuce’s mail, which hinted at profiteering and unaccountability linked to a particular generic medical card, seemed to catch leadership at the HSE unawares. It also, for some involved in the conversation, recalled discussions years previous about the same generic medical card.

The Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People, where Safetynet medical director Dr Angela Skuce said a ‘very profitable’ clinic was being run

The 2014 HSE memo that found no accountability, no contract and possible double charges

The HSE’s Carmel Burke did not want to detract, she wrote, in any way, “on the appropriateness, effectiveness and quality of service provided”, nor the “commitment of the individuals involved with Safetynet”.

She did however want to raise some “governance issues” about this charity.

It was February 2014 and Burke was dealing with an intervention the previous June by the HSE’s then COO Laverne McGuinness. McGuinness had sent a memo to the HSE’s regional directors of operations, voicing her concerns on increased healthcare charges for homeless people, asylum seekers, islanders and some community nursing programmes. This memo triggered something of an audit within the HSE, with different departments either forced or encouraged to look at what they were spending on these services and the fees being billed to organisations like Safetynet.

Burke was the HSE’s primary care reimbursement services head of operations, which meant she had responsibility for paying the primary care providers the HSE contracted – primary care providers like Safetynet and its affiliated GPs.

Sending a memo of her own, Burke outlined her issues with Safetynet and its use of the generic medical card. These issues included:

“No accountability or performance monitoring of service provision at a cost of €0.5 million annually”; “no visibility of a contract… either with Safetynet or more appropriately with the individual participating GPs”; “doctors are providing services to clients who are the registered patients of other doctors and the HSE is paying two doctors for service provision.”

Though the HSE had stopped issuing these generic medical cards in 2011, some remained in circulation, and Burke was well aware of the risks of allowing these cards to remain in the control of organisations like Safetynet.

“When we centralised in 2012, serious concerns were raised in respect of allocation of generic medical cards from a patient safety perspective, public accountability – for example significant costs incurred where we have limited audit trail. In the case of Safetynet a quick review of 50 STCs submitted for one month confirmed the vast majority of clients had medical cards in their own right,” she wrote, STC referring to special type consultations, considered by an HSE source as a particularly profitable method of healthcare provision.

For the year Burke wrote her memo, €1,390,955.63 was charged to this single generic medical card. The following year did record a marginal decrease, but despite all the increased scrutiny, €1,363,589.65 was still charged to the card. Much of these charges could be traced back to Safetynet’s method of paying its associated GPs – these GPs were treated by Safetynet as individual contractors rather than salaried employees.

This is how it worked. A GP, sometimes a trainee GP, would see patients at a Safetynet or Safetyet-affiliated clinic. Rather than be paid directly for their work, these GPs would submit claims on the K699982A medical card and then be paid a portion of these claims by either Safetynet or O’Carroll.

This method of paying GPs brought with it little transparency.

Dr Angela Skuce’s October 2020 email where she lets the HSE know that the clinic in the Capuchin Centre is ‘very profitable’

The HSE considers the needs of a private equity-backed healthcare provider

O’Carroll did discuss at the highest political level the possibility of employing salaried GPs, rather than those who would make claims on his behalf for every patient they would see. He did so with Simon Harris, when Harris was minister for health, at a late 2016 meeting also attended by HSE national director John Hennessy.

The meeting took place in November at the end of a year when €1,821,986.58 was charged to the generic medical card and when O’Carroll was still yet to resign from Safetynet. O’Carroll discussed his employment of salaried GPs as a pilot in a practice in Dublin 1, in an area of social deprivation, and suggested to both Harris and Hennessy three possible models for employing GPs rather than relying on the generic medical card.

Harris and Hennessy both indicated their preference for having organisations like Safetynet, rather than the state, employ these GPs.

Minutes taken at the meeting note that the HSE’s Hennesy had reservations about the state funding the employment of GPs in disadvantaged areas. Alongside considerations for patients, Hennessy, according to the minutes, was “considering the needs of Centric”.

The state employing salaried GPs, according to Hennessy, “may displace others, for example other GPs or private for-profit companies such as Centric”. Centric Health is a private equity-backed healthcare company that through its subsidiaries operates 46 GP practices across the country and recorded turnover of €34.56 million from June 2018 to June 2019.

Harris agreed and accepted there would be “challenges from ‘mainstream’ GPs who feel special treatment for certain areas would be unfair”.

Both Harris and Safetynet, according to the meeting’s minutes, spoke approvingly of the casualisation of general practice, using similar arguments to those made by defenders of the gig economy and zero-hours contracts. Harris “noted the advantages for part-time GPs, for example mothers of young children,” while “Safetynet agreed and said this is the same for nurses, dentists and many other healthcare professionals and that the market is definitely turning towards being flexible to customers and towards providers.”

Though Safetynet did begin moves towards employing salaried GPs, which should have brought increased transparency and decreased charges on the card, in the year following this meeting, charges on the card ran to €2,535,722.14. As the card would expire in the proceeding years, it kept getting extended by the HSE: twice in 2013, once in 2014, three times in 2015, once in 2016, once in 2017 and twice in 2018.

It was in late 2020 – in the aftermath of the Leo Varadkar leaking controversy, which tangentially involved Safetynet through its former employee Maitiú Ó Tuathail – that the HSE returned to the potential for Safetynet and its affiliates to profit from homelessness healthcare.

What does it mean to be ‘a little ambitious’?

When Leo Varadkar had to face questioning in the Dáil over his leak of a confidential GP contract to his friend Maitiú Ó Tuathail, first reported in Village Magazine, he explained he used be in intermittent contact with Ó Tuathail concerning Safetynet, for whom Ó Tuathail once worked. Former NAGP president Ó Tuathail’s part in the story, including a WhatsApp message he sent suggesting there were profits to be made in direct provision, seems to have been a cause of concern for HSE officials, given Ó Tuathail’s association with Safetynet.

After Safetynet medical director Angela Skuce drew the HSE’s attention to the “very profitable” clinic being run in the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People, HSE assistant national director Shaun Flanagan raised what he called the “NAGP” story.

“Dr Skuce has a line in her email that probably flags something that resonates with some of the media coverage over the weekend in relation to the NAGP WhatsApp messages which were reported,” wrote Flanagan. Flanagan also wrote, in a separate email referring to a colleague who had spoken of her desire to finally address the longstanding poor governance of card K699982A, “Some of the content of internal NAGP WhatsApps that circulated around the NAGP leakgate issue may have shocked her was my read but nevertheless it offers us an opportunity to regularise issues that have long been a concern but progress was challenging.”

So this was a chance for the HSE to finally clear up outstanding issues with this medical card. One problem for the organisation however was figuring out who was actually responsible for it. Current Safetynet general manager Fiona O’Reilly is adamant the card doesn’t belong to her charity and said she didn’t know to whom it is registered . “It’s not ours. I know what we use it for. We use it to prescribe medication for people who don’t have a medical card. If people are using it for payments, they’re not doing it under us,” she said. Safetynet, she said, “uses this card specifically to access prescription medications for vulnerable homeless persons who cannot afford them”.

Assistant national director Shaun Flanagan thought otherwise. He thought the card was a Safetynet card up until December 2020. He also thought Austin O’Carroll and Kieran Harkin (to whom the card is formally registered) were still working with Safetynet. “Apparently these changes took place three years ago. You may know all this… but this was new to me,” he wrote to his colleagues in late 2020 after learning the truth. In another mail he wrote that medical card K699982A “is no longer a Safetynet card”.

One thing was clear though after Skuce’s email: “We agreed that we needed to get improved governance around generic cards,” wrote Flanagan in a December email. He also wrote what he understood to be the HSE’s aims for generic medical cards such as K699982A.

These aims seemed fair: “clarity around what a card is for”; “clarity around what is claimable and not”; “a reporting system to the person responsible for the card”. On achieving these aims however – clarity on what the card can be used for; putting in place controls and a reporting system for the €22 million medical card – this HSE assistant national director wasn’t hopeful.  

“I might be a little ambitious in my understanding here,” he wrote.

¶ The HSE press office, when reached Friday evening, couldn’t confirm when they could deliver a statement, though individual HSE employees were contacted for response on generic medical cards in early May. Drs Austin O’Carroll and Kieran Harkin, as well as the Capuchin Day Centre for Homeless People, did not respond to requests for comment.

Safetynet general manager Fiona O’Reilly said the charity is “fully compliant with all legislative requirements”, including “healthcare provision and financial accountancy” and that it faces “no current issues or outstanding matters” in this regard.

Merchants Quay Ireland, where Austin O’Carroll and Kieran Harkin run a clinic

One of O’Carroll and Harkin’s clinics, run by GMQ and affiliated with Safetynet Primary Care, is held in homelessness charity Merchants Quay Ireland in Dublin 8, just south of the Liffey. Banners flying outside the facility promise “a fresh start”, “an open door”, and “a helping hand”.

One May evening, women gathered outside and greeted each other with hugs. Some remonstrated with Merchants Quay Ireland staff members who would emerge from the building every now and again, sometimes to hand brown paper bags to those outside, sometimes to make a short journey of a few hundred yards up the street to check on an ongoing scene.

Just outside the adjacent Franciscan Union, a small crowd stood over a man who seemed to be in his 30s. He was out cold, lying on the street, and receiving treatment from a paramedic. The crowd chatted with the medical staff present, who’d been brought to the scene by the fire engine now parked on the footpath. One young man stopped passersby and tried to sell them a new t-shirt from a Lidl carrier bag.

An ambulance arrived to take the knocked-out man away. The fire engine pulled off, the paramedics inside exchanging waves with the crowd of eight who stayed on, chatting, their associate now on his way to hospital.

These are the people who’ve made these clinics “very profitable”. And it just was another day for them. They don’t know about the review generic medical card number K699982A will face next week, nor what kind of contributions they’ve made to its €22,404,819.52.

No one knows.

G. Thompson

G. Thompson

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How to protect critical infrastructure from ransomware attacks – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

When hackers attacked the computer network of Colonial Pipeline and shut down a major source of fuel on the East Coast, the public descended into panic. People hoarded gas. Fuel-laden cars caught fire. It was a disaster. The federal government has traditionally taken a lax approach to mandating cybersecurity standards at critical infrastructure organizations. That has to change. Here is what officials should require of companies like Colonial.

Source: How to protect critical infrastructure from ransomware attacks – Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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The War Over Genetic Privacy Is Just Beginning published Astute. Mental illness within families often is about secrecy but this takes it to a different more intrusive and controversial level, summed up as “Guilt by Association”

June 16, 2021

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Astute News

Opinion

The War Over Genetic Privacy Is Just Beginning

June 16, 2021

When you upload your DNA, you’re potentially becoming a genetic informant on the rest of your family.”— Law professor Elizabeth Joh

“Guilt by association” has taken on new connotations in the technological age.

All of those fascinating, genealogical searches that allow you to trace your family tree by way of a DNA sample can now be used against you and those you love.

As of 2019, more than 26 million people had added their DNA to ancestry databases. It’s estimated those databases could top 100 million profiles within the year, thanks to the aggressive marketing of companies such as Ancestry and 23andMe.

It’s a tempting proposition: provide some mega-corporation with a spit sample or a cheek swab, and in return, you get to learn everything about who you are, where you came from, and who is part of your extended your family.

The possibilities are endless.

You could be the fourth cousin once removed of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Or the illegitimate grandchild of an oil tycoon. Or the sibling of a serial killer.

Without even realizing it, by submitting your DNA to an ancestry database, you’re giving the police access to the genetic makeup, relationships and health profiles of every relative—past, present and future—in your family, whether or not they ever agreed to be part of such a database.

After all, a DNA print reveals everything about “who we are, where we come from, and who we will be.”

It’s what police like to refer to a “modern fingerprint.”

Whereas fingerprint technology created a watershed moment for police in their ability to “crack” a case, DNA technology is now being hailed by law enforcement agencies as the magic bullet in crime solving.

Indeed, police have begun using ancestry databases to solve cold cases that have remained unsolved for decades.

For instance, in 2018, former police officer Joseph DeAngelo was flagged as the notorious “Golden State Killer” through the use of genetic genealogy, which allows police to match up an unknown suspect’s crime scene DNA with that of any family members in a genealogy database. Police were able to identify DeAngelo using the DNA of a distant cousin found in a public DNA database. Once police narrowed the suspect list to DeAngelo, they tracked him—snatched up a tissue he had tossed in a trash can—and used his DNA on the tissue to connect him to a rash of rapes and murders from the 1970s and ‘80s.

Although DeAngelo was the first public arrest made using forensic genealogy, police have identified more than 150 suspects since then. Most recently, police relied on genetic genealogy to nab the killer of a 15-year-old girl who was stabbed to death nearly 50 years ago.

Who wouldn’t want to get psychopaths and serial rapists off the streets and safely behind bars, right? At least, that’s the argument being used by law enforcement to support their unrestricted access to these genealogy databases.

“In the interest of public safety, don’t you want to make it easy for people to be caught? Police really want to do their job. They’re not after you. They just want to make you safe,” insists Colleen Fitzpatrick, a co-founder of the DNA Doe Project, which identifies unknown bodies and helps find suspects in old crimes.

Except it’s not just psychopaths and serial rapists who get caught up in the investigative dragnet.

Anyone who comes up as a possible DNA match—including distant family members—suddenly becomes part of a circle of suspects that must be tracked, investigated and ruled out.

Although a number of states had forbidden police from using government databases to track family members of suspects, the genealogy websites provided a loophole that proved irresistible to law enforcement.

Hoping to close that loophole, a few states have started introducing legislation to restrict when and how police use these genealogical databases, with Maryland requiring that they can only be used for serious violent crimes such as murder and rape, only after they exhaust other investigatory methods, and only under the supervision of a judge.

Yet the debate over genetic privacy—and when one’s DNA becomes a public commodity outside the protection of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on warrantless searches and seizures—is really only beginning.

Certainly, it’s just a matter of time before the government gets hold of our DNA, either through mandatory programs carried out in connection with law enforcement and corporate America, by warrantlessly accessing our familial DNA shared with genealogical services such as Ancestry and 23andMe, or through the collection of our “shed” or “touch” DNA.

According to research published in the journal Science, more than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases, even if they have not submitted their own DNA. According to law professor Natalie Ram, one genealogy profile can lead to as many as 300 other people.

That’s just on the commercial side.

All 50 states now maintain their own DNA databases, although the protocols for collection differ from state to state. Increasingly, many of the data from local databanks are being uploaded to CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the FBI’s massive DNA database, which has become a de facto way to identify and track the American people from birth to death.

Even hospitals have gotten in on the game by taking and storing newborn babies’ DNA, often without their parents’ knowledge or consent. It’s part of the government’s mandatory genetic screening of newborns. In many states, the DNA is stored indefinitely.

What this means for those being born today is inclusion in a government database that contains intimate information about who they are, their ancestry, and what awaits them in the future, including their inclinations to be followers, leaders or troublemakers.

Get ready, folks, because the government— helped along by Congress (which adopted legislation allowing police to collect and test DNA immediately following arrests), President Trump (who signed the Rapid DNA Act into law), the courts (which have ruled that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime), and local police agencies (which are chomping at the bit to acquire this new crime-fighting gadget)—has embarked on a diabolical campaign to create a nation of suspects predicated on a massive national DNA database.

Referred to as “magic boxes,” Rapid DNA machines—portable, about the size of a desktop printer, highly unregulated, far from fool-proof, and so fast that they can produce DNA profiles in less than two hours—allow police to go on fishing expeditions for any hint of possible misconduct using DNA samples.

Journalist Heather Murphy explains: “As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases.”

The ramifications of these DNA databases are far-reaching.

At a minimum, they will do away with any semblance of privacy or anonymity. The lucrative possibilities for hackers and commercial entities looking to profit off one’s biological record are endless.

Moreover, while much of the public debate, legislative efforts and legal challenges in recent years have focused on the protocols surrounding when police can legally collect a suspect’s DNA (with or without a search warrant and whether upon arrest or conviction), the question of how to handle “shed” or “touch” DNA has largely slipped through without much debate or opposition.

As scientist Leslie A. Pray notes:

We all shed DNA, leaving traces of our identity practically everywhere we go. Forensic scientists use DNA left behind on cigarette butts, phones, handles, keyboards, cups, and numerous other objects, not to mention the genetic content found in drops of bodily fluid, like blood and semen. In fact, the garbage you leave for curbside pickup is a potential gold mine of this sort of material. All of this shed or so-called abandoned DNA is free for the taking by local police investigators hoping to crack unsolvable cases. Or, if the future scenario depicted at the beginning of this article is any indication, shed DNA is also free for inclusion in a secret universal DNA databank.

What this means is that if you have the misfortune to leave your DNA traces anywhere a crime has been committed, you’ve already got a file somewhere in some state or federal database—albeit it may be a file without a name. As Heather Murphy warns in the New York Times: “The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived…  Genetic fingerprinting is set to become as routine as the old-fashioned kind.

Even old samples taken from crime scenes and “cold” cases are being unearthed and mined for their DNA profiles.

Today, helped along by robotics and automation, DNA processing, analysis and reporting takes far less time and can bring forth all manner of information, right down to a person’s eye color and relatives. Incredibly, one company specializes in creating “mug shots” for police based on DNA samples from unknown “suspects” which are then compared to individuals with similar genetic profiles.

If you haven’t yet connected the dots, let me point the way.

Having already used surveillance technology to render the entire American populace potential suspects, DNA technology in the hands of government will complete our transition to a suspect society in which we are all merely waiting to be matched up with a crime.

No longer can we consider ourselves innocent until proven guilty.

Now we are all suspects in a DNA lineup until circumstances and science say otherwise.

Suspect Society, meet the American police state.

Every dystopian sci-fi film we’ve ever seen is suddenly converging into this present moment in a dangerous trifecta between science, technology and a government that wants to be all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful.

By tapping into your phone lines and cell phone communications, the government knows what you say. By uploading all of your emails, opening your mail, and reading your Facebook posts and text messages, the government knows what you write. By monitoring your movements with the use of license plate readers, surveillance cameras and other tracking devices, the government knows where you go.

By churning through all of the detritus of your life—what you read, where you go, what you say—the government can predict what you will do. By mapping the synapses in your brain, scientists—and in turn, the government—will soon know what you remember.

And by accessing your DNA, the government will soon know everything else about you that they don’t already know: your family chart, your ancestry, what you look like, your health history, your inclination to follow orders or chart your own course, etc.

Of course, none of these technologies are foolproof.

Nor are they immune from tampering, hacking or user bias.

Nevertheless, they have become a convenient tool in the hands of government agents to render null and void the Constitution’s requirements of privacy and its prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures.

What this amounts to is a scenario in which we have little to no defense of against charges of wrongdoing, especially when “convicted” by technology, and even less protection against the government sweeping up our DNA in much the same way it sweeps up our phone calls, emails and text messages.

With the entire governmental system shifting into a pre-crime mode aimed at detecting and pursuing those who “might” commit a crime before they have an inkling, let alone an opportunity, to do so, it’s not so far-fetched to imagine a scenario in which government agents (FBI, local police, etc.) target potential criminals based on their genetic disposition to be a “troublemaker” or their relationship to past dissenters.

Equally disconcerting: if scientists can, using DNA, track salmon across hundreds of square miles of streams and rivers, how easy will it be for government agents to not only know everywhere we’ve been and how long we were at each place but collect our easily shed DNA and add it to the government’s already burgeoning database?

Not to be overlooked, DNA evidence is not infallible: it can be wrong, either through human error, tampering, or even outright fabrication, and it happens more often than we are told. The danger, warns scientist Dan Frumkin, is that crime scenes can be engineered with fabricated DNA.

Now if you happen to be the kind of person who trusts the government implicitly and refuses to believe it would ever do anything illegal or immoral, then the prospect of government officials—police, especially—using fake DNA samples to influence the outcome of a case might seem outlandish.

Yet as history shows, the probability of our government acting in a way that is not only illegal but immoral becomes less a question of “if” and more a question of “when.”

With technology, the courts, the corporations and Congress conspiring to invade our privacy on a cellular level, suddenly the landscape becomes that much more dystopian.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, this is the slippery slope toward a dystopian world in which there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.


By John W. Whitehead and Nisha Whitehead
Source: The Rutherford Institute

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The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon. Home to Macnamaras. Caitlin Macnamara married Dylan Thomas. By chance found this interview. My grandmother Marcella Blake-Forster (Comyn) and Caitlin’s father Francis were first cousins. The Comyn’s were also related to the Macnamaras

Francis McNamara
Francis MacNamara was born in 1884 as the eldest son of Henry Vee.
He disregarded a career in law and enjoyed instead the bohemian lifestyle of a circle of young poets and artists in London. In 1909 he published a book of poems called Marionettes. Some of these poems were inspired by his home in Ennistymon.
He secretly married Yvonne Majolier in 1911 and they lived together in London. They had 4 children, John, Nicolette, Brigit and Caitlin. Francis also had another daughter outside of the marriage. Some of their honeymoon was spent in Doolin House. It was still much in use at that time.
After his marriage to Yvonne fell apart, he married Augustus John’s sister-in-law, Edie McNeil, in 1928. After Edie died, Francis got married for a third time in 1936 to Iris O’Callaghan-Westropp. He was then fifty-two years of age. They both returned to Ennistymon House soon after and turned it into the ‘Falls Hotel’.
This adventure failed due to his unprofessional approach and great generosity to his guests. The Hotel was sold and they moved into a small house at the rear of the hotel. They spent part of their time here and parts in Dublin.
The marriage started to deteriorate and so did Francis’ health. He died in 1946 at the age of sixty-two.
This text is a shortened version of an extract of a page from the Clare Library titled:
“Ennistymon Castle and House and The Falls Hotel”
If you have not come to this page from our homepage, you can use this link to visit our About Doolin page.
If you have come from our homepage, just close the page when you want to get back.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2003/aug/17/poetry.highereducation

Francis Macnamara and Augustus John who spent so much time at Doolin until the house was burnt out by the IRA in the 1920’s

Two Flamboyant Fathers: Devas, Nicolette

Francis McNamara
Francis MacNamara was born in 1884 as the eldest son of Henry Vee.
He disregarded a career in law and enjoyed instead the bohemian lifestyle of a circle of young poets and artists in London. In 1909 he published a book of poems called Marionettes. Some of these poems were inspired by his home in Ennistymon.
He secretly married Yvonne Majolier in 1911 and they lived together in London. They had 4 children, John, Nicolette, Brigit and Caitlin. Francis also had another daughter outside of the marriage. Some of their honeymoon was spent in Doolin House. It was still much in use at that time.
After his marriage to Yvonne fell apart, he married Augustus John’s sister-in-law, Edie McNeil, in 1928. After Edie died, Francis got married for a third time in 1936 to Iris O’Callaghan-Westropp. He was then fifty-two years of age. They both returned to Ennistymon House soon after and turned it into the ‘Falls Hotel’.
This adventure failed due to his unprofessional approach and great generosity to his guests. The Hotel was sold and they moved into a small house at the rear of the hotel. They spent part of their time here and parts in Dublin.
The marriage started to deteriorate and so did Francis’ health. He died in 1946 at the age of sixty-two.
This text is a shortened version of an extract of a page from the Clare Library titled:
“Ennistymon Castle and House and The Falls Hotel”
If you have not come to this page from our homepage, you can use this link to visit our About Doolin page.
If you have come from our homepage, just close the page when you want to get back.

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