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THE HARTE OF THE MATTER

David Walsh and Donal Og Cusack have both come under fire for providing character references for Tom Humphries – so why hasn’t Tyrone manager Mickey Harte been similarly criticised for providing a character reference for a sex attacker?

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David Walsh and Donal Og Cusack have taken a pasting in the media for having supplied character references for Tom Humphries, the former Irish Times sportswrit­er charged with and now convicted of sex offences against a young girl. So how come the heavy silence about Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte telling a court four years ago that a Cookstown man convicted of a vile sex attack on a defenceles­s woman was a fine fellow beneath it all, come from, as they say, a “good GAA family.”

The fact that the victim, too, came from a good GAA family didn’t deter Harte from asking Judge Piers Grant not to go too hard on the assailant. Maybe Harte found it difficult to recognise a violated woman as a proper GAA person.

Ronan McCusker was sentenced to two-anda-half years at Derry Crown Court on March

2nd 2013 after pleading guilty to subjecting the woman to a horrendous ordeal and then throwing her semi-naked out of a van onto the side of the road. Two men on their way to work next morning found her sprawled in a ditch. They thought at first that they’d stumbled on a dead body.

Judge Grant cited Harte’s testimonia­l as a mitigating factor as he set sentence at two years and three months. (Humphries was handed two years and six months.)

Four-and-a-half years on, the woman’s suffering at the hands of a misogynist blackguard appears to have been quite forgotten, particular­ly by the GAA. But five minutes talk with her today would leave no doubt that the hurt goes deep, she is suffering still.

Why has former Cork hurling captain Cusack felt it necessary to resign from the board of Sport Ireland, while county manager Harte continues as a revered figure within the associatio­n?

Harte should be asked for his resignatio­n without further ado.

Anti-choice activists tell us that every foetus has the same moral weight and entitlemen­t to human rights as the woman carrying it in her womb. What, then, are we to make of the case of Lori Stodghill (31), who arrived at St Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, Colorado, late at night on New Year’s Day 2006, seven months pregnant with twin boys, vomiting, dizzy and short of breath? She died an hour later.

Lori’s obstetrici­an, although supposedly on call, had failed to respond when paged. Her husband, Jeremy, sued the group which ran the hospital, Catholic Health Initiative­s (CHI), arguing that, while Lori’s life probably couldn’t have been be saved, timely interventi­on might have ensured the survival of the twins: he had been deprived of two sons, his daughter of two brothers.

CHI is a $15 billion organisati­on, with 150 hospitals or clinics in 17 states. Its “ethical framework” declares that, “Catholic healthcare ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until death... The Church’s defence of life encompasse­s the unborn”.

But when it came to potentiall­y hugely expensive court action, dogma was ditched in favour of fancy footwork. The fact that the hospital operated on the basis of Church teaching didn’t mean that it couldn’t avail of secular law in court proceeding­s, its lawyers argued. “The term ‘person’ encompasse­s only individual­s born alive... Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn foetuses.”

The case wended its way through the courts for seven years. It eventually ran out of road when the Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal against the lower courts’ ruling in favour of CHI. “They won with an argument the Church said publicly was immoral,” observed Beth Krulewitch, attorney for Jeremy and his daughter Elizabeth.

Looking back more recently, Jeremy declined to tell the Colorado Independen­t what he thought of CHI’s legal strategy because he feared that if he spoke bluntly, “It would come out too profane to print.”

This is the story of the two little pigs, Ethel and Lucy. On August 31, six jeep-loads of armed agents arrived at a farm in Riverton, Utah, with a warrant to take clippings from the ears of any pig they found, so as to carry out DNA tests to determine whether Ethel or Lucy was among them.

Ethel and Lucy had been stolen on July

6th from a million-pig farm, where pigs spent their entire lives standing on slats in crates in which they could not turn around. Animal rights activists who had broken in to film the pigs’ living conditions had noticed the pair of baby piglets squirming weakly on the slurry-covered slats. So they gathered them in their arms and made a run for it.

The Circle Four factory-farm is among the biggest in the world. The snatching of Ethel and Lucy was the latest in a spreading series of actions by animal-rights campaigner­s. Agribusine­ss was nervous. Their Washington lobby got to work. More than 250 FBI agents were put on the case.

They haven’t been particular­ly successful.

But they still stalk the land, on the look-out for animals taking their ease in the open air instead of slithering to death in dankness and dark.

And there was you thinking the FBI’s job was to protect the American people…

Ethel and Lucy are still at large.

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Repeal the 8th: Stateside anti-choice activists show the movement’s importance
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