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August 17th 2020

Alan Harrison

Today’s speaker is John Bruder who will speak about best practice in construction, world-wide.

Forthcoming Speakers and Events
Aug 19th Gathering at the Schoolhouse, Northumberland Rd at 6pm lead by PE Alexander, Rana and PP Bernie
Aug 24th DG Conny Oversen
Aug 26th Russborough House, Blessington visit at noon lead by President Alan Davidoson.
Aug 31st Helen Perkins – Visiting 80 Rotary Clubs !
Sept 7th Peace Pipe Initiative
Sept 28th Representative of the Scottish Government in Dublin.
PE Alexander Kopf gave the invocation last Monday.

Rotary Rangers Walks
Aug 18th The Hill of Howth – see email from PP Brian George for arrangements.
Social distancing rules will apply. More details are available from PP Brian George.

Hon Sec Tony McCourt gave apologies for non-attendance from Delma Sweeney, PP Ethna Fitzgerald, Rana Al Damin, Tony Murray, David Horkan and IPP Mariandy Lennon.

At last week’s virtual meeting there were 24 attendees. Last week our new member joined us Hecham Cherifi who is in self isolation having returned from France. One of the benefits of meeting online when one finds oneself in that situation. We had no non-Rotarian visitors.

President’s Announcements
President Alan informed the meeting that Council is looking into whether a picnic might be held in conjunction with the Foundation Duck Race to be held on the first Sunday in September. The Foundation Committee is to report back on this, this week.

Members wishing to speak
Rotarian Roger Owens reported on behalf of the Foundation Committee. RCD contributes about €5,800 per year to the Rotary Foundation. €800-900 of that comes from our members’ participation in the annual Eirex Survey, so the survey accounts for 15% of our fundraising.

PP Kevin McAnallen asked President Alan if our club or District were going to send any support to the people of Beirut, following the dreadful explosion from ammonium nitrate last week. President Alan responded that he is checking with District about the response. Kevin mentioned that he is aware that the Rotary Club of Beirut is a very active club. Hon. Secretary Tony McCourt related that he had lived in Beirut, when serving in the Irish army in 1974-1975, and was particularly moved as he had very fond memories of the city and of the people. He thought it was severe carelessness that the nitrate, which of course would have been known to be highly explosive, was stored anywhere near where fireworks might be set off. Past President Ted Corcoran, in his former capacity as safety officer with Iarnrod Eireann, related how trains full of ammonium travelled from Cork to Wicklow on a regular basis and that on checking, he discovered that the State had absolutely no preparation for an accident or disaster which might occur while the ammonium was being transferred. Thankfully, the deliveries have long since ceased.

Foundation and Eirex Postal Survey
PP Bernadette Mulvey has discovered that Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC) chartered accountants are recruiting for new participants in the Eirex Postal Survey. Those of our members volunteering to join the scheme are contributing to Foundation Subscriptions for our club members as PWC pay the club for members who participate as "droppers" or "receivers".

As a " dropper " Bernadette assures everyone that the task is easy. She writes that "I don't get letters every week but when I do I just post them on the required day in the post box that I had nominated. If I know that I will be away I give the dates and nothing will arrive. If by chance I can't post or if I forget I highlight that and put the date I did post letters on the return form and there is no issue”.
If you or a friend are interested in applying to join the Eirex Postal Survey scheme, just give your name, business address (if relevant), address, contact number and email address to Delma Sweeney, or PP Bernadette Mulvey,
Last Week’s Speaker
Last week’s speaker was our Past President Paul Loughlin, and now, as we discovered, Dr Paul Loughlin. Paul was introduced by PP Tom O’Neill in place of PP Tony Keegan as there was some difficulty in hearing Tony from his desk in Greystones. Tom related that Paul had been associated with our club since 1970 when he had been selected by the Club as a Rotary scholar and, following appointment by District, he went to Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Paul then worked with Canadian TV in Montreal and then returned to Dublin in 1980 and helped set up, in RTE, the Prime Time programme. Tom remembered well when Paul was President of our Club in 2005 and his dinner in the Masonic Hall, Molesworth Street which commenced a fruitful connection with the Hall.

Past President Paul commenced by saying that although he is now entitled to call himself Doctor, he prefers to be called ‘Sir’ ! His memory of Rotary Foundation is that when in Emerson College, he addressed seventeen Rotary Clubs in the Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island areas. He related that Emerson College was founded in 1880 and in 1937 commenced the first degree in broadcasting. Paul joined the college some thirty-three years later and found the course very fulfilling. At 7.30 on Monday mornings the students were required to attend a talk by the renowned WNYC boss Seymour N. Siegel. A number of other very interesting political editors and correspondents from the Boston area and further afield were regular speakers. Having accrued thirty of the required thirty-six credits that he needed; Paul was then recruited by Canadian television in Montreal where he spent nine happy years. He then returned to head up Today Tonight at RTE which was the time, in 1979-80, of the hunger strikes in the Maze Prison. Amazingly, they were allowed to film one of the prisoners in the prison. It was also the time of the heroin epidemic spreading through Dublin’s inner city, and he recalls the organisers and suppliers of the heroin as being relatively gentlemen compared to today’s drug overlords.

Paul then related his own recollections of the changes in Ireland in the last forty years including the thirty years in which he was involved with Today Tonight followed by Prime Time on RTE which led on to Prime Time Investigates and which is now known as RTE Investigates. Paul said that by 2010, retirement loomed, and in June of that year he commenced an MPhil in Trinity College, Dublin requiring a dissertation. Up to that time the archive in his former employer, RTE, did not receive a great deal of attention due to difficulties of access. Professor Eunan O’Halpin, the professor of modern Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, persuaded Paul to write his dissertation on the defeat of the Divorce Referendum in 1986 as seen by the live responses on RTE programmes both television and radio leading up to the referendum. Then, Eunan O’Halpin asked him to write a further number of researches on the Divorce Referendum, and he took a further two years on this. Brid Dooley, the head of archives in RTE at the time allowed access to RTE’s archive and Paul wrote a 15,000 word dissertation on the debates concerning the various referenda on contraception, divorce, abortion and the same sex marriage referendum. He avoided reportage on the debate, rather he used live programmes such as the Late Late Show, Prime Time etc.

Paul’s research began in 1968 with the Humanae Vitae, the Ecumenical letter from Pope Paul VI to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. Paul’s research finished in 2018 with the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment on abortion with a two to one majority. Many practices were banned in 1968 which are now allowed, many after bitter debates by the pro and anti-campaigns.

Paul quoted the Department of Health records, which showed that 6,666 abortions were carried out in Ireland in 2019, and if the total includes Irish women who went to the UK in the same year, the number rises to 6,959. By comparison, the year of the Referendum in 2018, when 2,879 Irish residents obtained abortions in Britain, the 2019 figure represents a 142% increase in demand for abortions by Irish women.

Past President Paul then answered a number of questions, the first being from President Alan. Alan asked what now happens to Paul’s dissertation in RTE and Paul explained that the management and staff in his former employer were a great help with the research and the dissertation is available to the staff in RTE. Paul related that the overturn by the Supreme Court decision of the High Court refusal to allow the young woman in the ‘X case’ in 1983 was then overturned itself by the 1983 referendum which in effect banned people going abroad for abortions. This was of course further overturned by the subsequent referendum to Repeal 8th amendment in 2018. However, Paul feels that this may not even now be the end of this story.

Past President Kevin McAnallon then asked what role did the European Court of Justice play in the fifty-year revolution in Irish society that Paul had spoken to us about. Paul replied that the Maastricht Treaty could have allowed legislation to prohibit abortion which could be overturned. Paul said it wasn’t used in this way but the changes came from developments in democracy at work in Ireland.

Frank Bannister then wondered if the decline in the influence of the Roman Catholic Church due to various scandals (Tuam babies, Letterfrack School etc etc) had any influence on the debates and so on that Paul had observed in the records in RTE. Paul did not see it as having a direct influence, but he did notice a change from the early days when there was quite clearly a clerical influence on various debates, but this was greatly reduced over the years as emphasised by Olivia O’Leary when no Roman Catholic clergy were invited to speak on such programmes in the 1980s. This was a big change from the 1960s and 1970s. This was because they were not invited by RTE by the 1980s.

Mary O’Rafferty thanked Paul for his talk and research. She said that her memory was in relation to the women of the ‘contraception train’ from Belfast who were not stopped, according to her memory, in 1970 from appearing on the Late Show and who called out the Roman Catholic Church on the changes that were need to Irish laws and the social acceptance of the management of a woman’s body by the woman herself. Paul O’Loughlin replied that the ‘contraception train’ featured in the printed version of the dissertation and he relates the reaction of the women, and the humour, on their return to Dublin on the train. Paul quoted one woman who, when asked if she had anything to declare by a customs official, said she had, and then clearly said to him that he was not getting them !

PP Ted Corcoran then compared the changes in Ireland and the US over the past fifty years and wondered why progress in Ireland has been greater than in the US. PP Paul replied that the women’s liberation movement here was mainly behind the US in this time, but it may have been more closely related as being a smaller and more cohesive group which was able to influence public thinking. Paul O’Loughlin said the contributions were that feminism was the strengthening factor that held all together because all these events effected women in the same way.

Rotarian Frank Bannister then thanked Paul O’Loughlin and, in doing so, related that most PhD students “forego present income in order to forgo future income”. Frank marvelled at the amount of data that Paul had been able to work through and hopes that Paul will now take the time to “write the book” on his subject.

“By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day”

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