not a member? click here to sign up
Me And The Devil Blues
The enduring appeal of exorcism, and that terrifying winged demon, Mick O’Leary.
Eamonn McCann, 23 Jun 2005
The horrific case of a Congolese child tortured by relatives in London who believed she was possessed by demons has sparked concern about the import of primitive belief systems into Western societies. One British tabloid felt it necessary to warn of “mumbo-jumbo in our midst”.
With this in mind, may I recommend a fascinating video currently selling in shed-loads via mainstream religious websites? Interview With An Exorcist – “captivating, compelling” – is directed by Mathew Arnold and stars Fr. José Antonio Fortea “Is demonic possession for real?” ponders the blurb. "Are believers today in danger from Satan and his minions? What do demons actually look like?" Answers are promised to all these questions and more.
Fr. Fortea is “the Catholic Church’s foremost expert on exorcism”. During filming, he “was given unrestricted access to many secret and sealed documents... and travelled the world consulting with exorcists, documenting their experiences, investigating cases of demonic possession and attending countless exorcisms”.
The film “catalogues a dizzying array of strange phenomenon (sic.) including clairvoyance, speaking unknown languages, superhuman strength and levitation.”
As a result of the film, “Fr. Fortea is sought out by exorcists around the globe (often by phone in the middle of the night) to offer his expert diagnosis and counsel... Order now and experience the triumph of Jesus Christ over evil.”
You can order via Amazon or go direct to www.marianland.com. Oh, and the “mumbo-jumbo” religion of the relatives of the unfortunate Congolese child? Christianity, as a matter of fact. Should there be a law about it, do you think?
Many citizens have been accosting me in the street to ask my opinion whether the Coldplay album is the equal of U2’s for formulaic banality. Difficult one. But I reckon U2 have had the better marketing pitch.
Meanwhile, which album will be next year’s “Ending Poverty the Bush-Blair Way?”
“The Soprano Road to a Crime-Free Society?”
“Fighting Superstition with Benedict XVI.”
“Change is Gonna’ Come” by Status Quo?
Smiles all round at the inaugural June meeting of our local council as word came that Ryanair is still raking it in.
Charismatic CEO Michael O‘Leary had told the company’s agm that profits had soared to £184 million (just under ¤275 million) – up 19% from last year.
And bookings are only brilliant – passenger forecasts for 2005 are up by eight million from 27 million in ‘04.
The reason the news came as music to municipal ears is that all main parties here have hitched their hopes of a brighter future to expansion of City of Derry airport, which in turn is dependent – so they say – on Ryanair‘s continuing good fortune. The SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP are at one in demanding that Ryanair’s “faith” in City of Derry should be rewarded by the London and Dublin governments funding the lengthening of the runway to meet the company’s requirements.
The only sour note was struck by O’Leary’s reported concern about fuel prices. “Fuel costs remain high,” lamented the open-necked swash-buckler. “And the market is volatile.”
O’Leary’s main message was, again, of course, that if only the State would butt out and leave airlines and airports to the perfect mechanism of the market, Ryanair and the people of Ireland would be both better off.
Strangely enough, or not really, this philippic against the State didn’t extend to mention of tax. Last year, in Derry money, Ryanair paid £1.4 million on profits of £154 million. That’s 0.89 % – DOWN from the 1.3% it had been forced to cough up in 2003. Workers on average pay face a higher tax rate than the most profitable airline in Europe. (Which is one of the reasons it is the most profitable airline in Europe.)
Ryanair, or its army of tax lawyers, specialises in “accelerated capital allowances,” deducting planned future investment from current earnings before calculating taxable income. It’s legal. One of those “business incentives” which have become the hallmark of the Ahern gang and which guarantee that the State which O’Leary never gives over jeering at, offers his company a virtually free ride.
But what about the worry over “volatile” fuel costs?
Aviation fuel is essentially the same stuff as you pump into your car, if you have one, groaning as the gauge whirrs around at a rate of 80 pence (or 100 cents) a litre. Airlines, on the other hand, pay around 20 pence a litre. Aviation fuel is totally tax-free.
This astonishing arrangement goes back to the dark days after World War Two, when airline chiefs came up with the bright idea that reconstruction, international understanding, global harmony and blah-blah would be hugely enhanced by the skies being designated a tax-free zone. All attempts since to bring aviation within the tax system have been met with furious opposition and been defeated.
There is no VAT on ‘plane tickets, aircraft purchase, aircraft maintenance, airline meals, baggage handling, anything. This additional, enormous subsidy has boosted the industry into stratospherical profitability. And none has more eagerly taken advantage than Ryanair and O’Leary.
It is at last being recognised, if slowly, that unrestricted growth in aviation is a major factor in depletion of the atmosphere and acceleration of climate change. Even British Tory Party leaders have begun to wonder aloud how come this one industry not only enjoys tax-free status but also, uniquely, has freedom to pollute. None of the provisions of the Kyoto Treaty apply to aviation.
This irrationality make nonsense of any notion that the growth in aviation in general, and the success of Ryanair in particular, can be put down to the dynamic efficiency of the free market. Ryanair is Europe’s most greedy pan-handler in an industry of corporate scroungers. O’Leary’s real stance towards the State is with his hand ever out for more subsidy from the public purse. He’s a parasite.
If he had his ear atuned to the developing debate across Europe, he might hesitate before shooting off his mouth over fuel costs.
Any day now, Mickser...
In the wake of the second report of the Morris Tribunal, a number of commentators have drawn attention to the role of their ”crime correspondent” colleagues in covering up garda criminality over recent years. But none that I’ve seen has mentioned the moment when it became acceptable for Irish journalists to array themselves on the side of the cops rather than holding authority in this area, as in others, to account.
This was the murder in 1996 of Veronica Guerin, who had operated as an “embedded” reporter with the gardai while working as crime correspondent with the Sunday Independant. Ms. Guerin had been frank about the way she saw her role. Not so those who came in her wake and used the fact that she’d been killed because of her journalism as deterrent against any examination of the ethics of the matter.
The acceptance of embedded journalism in coverage of crime has been reflected in recent awarding of journalism prizes to a number of correspondents who function as conduits for information which gardai want put into the public arena, rather than seekers-out of facts which the public is entitled to know.
As far as the performance of the media is concerned, it’s not just a few rotten apples.