Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

5 November 1998 Edition

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Television: Remembering Julie

Children of The Troubles (Radio One)
Leargas - An tOileanach (RTE)
Don't Feed The Gondolas (Network 2)
Breasts (Channel 4)
Catholics ``knew their place'' before 1969, so says Robin Livingstone, who shared a two bedroomed house off the Falls with his thirteen brothers and sisters and parents.

Brother of plastic bullet victim Julie Livingstone, Robin was reminiscing on Radio One's ``Children of The Troubles'', whose only fault lies in their desperation ``to show both sides'' which often blights the media.

Houses were still being used as a form of political patronage in the mid sixties, with Catholics outside the ``Golden Circle'' and Robin being confined to a double bed with seven of his brothers.

Livingstone had his first experiences of sectarianism when at six, he was subjected to ritual sectarian abuse ``and a few wee slaps about the head'' when he went to buy Rosses lemonade for his dad - ``I already knew my place. By the age of six, we didn't question it, families were apolitical, happy in their small houses, that's just the way it was''. Until ``with a crash and a whoosh'' the family were petrol bombed by loyalists on 13 August 1969.

Led by ``colourful character'' (as the media described him) Johnny McQuade, all ``taigs'' were systematically burnt out. As an eight year old Livingstone looked on it as ``a great adventure'', until his mother began to scream at the prospect of scaling a thirty foot wall, with two year old Julie in her arms.

The family were later picked off the street by a wealthy businessman, after coming under fire with bricks and bottles from the `B' Specials (``with their Darth Vader outfits'') and were later feted by Protestants with baskets of biscuits and bread - ``their humanity kicked in, but they still wouldn't discuss events''.

The family duly arrived in Twinbrook, where baby of the clan, Julie was murdered in 1981 by ``a Brit who decided to take a pot shot at her'' while returning from the shops for her mammy.

The British propaganda machine portayed Julie as ``a rioter from a leading republican family'' and true to form The Sunday Times claimed her death was due to ``a thin skull''.

Predictably Julie was later proved innocent and no soldier was ever taken to task over the murder, and Julie's mother retreated into a corner underneath a photo of her child and ``knitted until she died''.

Four years into the peace process, the Brits are still firing plastic bullets and Catholics are still being intimidated and shot, but it's republicans who are supposed to decommission.

Boobs is a topic most Irish shy away from and the majority of us lack the necessary body confidence to go topless, men included, but then again maybe our climate isn't very conducive to the practice.

``Breasts'' was all the rage on Channel 4 last Tuesday with women of all ages discussing everything from 28B's to blossoming cleavages - did you know that big breasts were all the go in the fifties and that small breasts didn't make the breakthrough until the eighties, with nineties has seen the return of cleavage, inspired no doubt by Eva Herzogovic's Wonderbra.

Silicone implants have become fashionable with Paula Yates among their ranks, but they have also led to severe problems, including severe infection, breaking or leaking into the body.

An increasing number of women, particularly in America, feel the need to dish out thousands of dollars to get the perfect size, and thereby use their breasts as ``a power tool''.

The most serious aspect of this issue must surely be the increasing number of women who are suffering from breast cancer - most people will know of at leaast one woman who has lost a breast or at least had a serious scare.

Unfortunately the aftercare and support here in Ireland is pretty poor and many women are unwilling to seek support from others for fear of being ridiculed by a society which is still suffering from a Victorian values ``under the carpet'' mentality.

Sean Moncrieff is genuinely witty but unfortunately his guests on ``Don't Feed The Gondolas'' are prone to reverting to sex and personal insults in their attempts to please the audience.

As part of his act, Moncrieff regularly catches out naive Dublin folk with ridiculous questions - the sort of people who want to make the city's O'Connell Street more middle class, which would mean excluding all northsiders, the sort of people who give out about farmers blocking the traffic, as 40,000 of them gather under Clery's clock for a few thousand ``hang sammidges'', the same people who clog the country roads with their mammy's BMW and ``mowbile'' phone, with their yellow V neck jumpers around their neck, tut-tutting about the poor and the ``Kaw-tolic church'', and looking for ``a decent cappucino'' - a species not to be found in your local Sinn Fein cumann.

``Last TV'' is another of Dublin's new wave of witty TV, except it was a shame to see Navan Man falling back on Benny Hill-style tactics, ``women are pigs, wave your willy at them etc etc'', when his radio work has in the main been very clever and politically hard-hitting.

Who remembers ``The Blades''? Ringsend's finest tipped for international after appearing on the all important Late Late Show in 1981. Talented songwriter Paul Cleary and his colleagues embraced socialism and his ``working class consciousness'' but were cast out of one venue for playing The Sex Pistols ``God Save The Queen'' - ``you won't play that muck in here boy''. And for the even older fogies Mick O Connell, the Kerry great, who spent hours kicking a ball against a gable wall in Valentia island, and rowing to training, looks remarkably fit for a man of sixty. On ``Leargas'' he recounted the death of community life on the islands, the importance of saving our language, and his love for his family, including his Down Syndrome son Diarmuid, who has become the focus of his life. His likes will ne'er be seen again.

By Sean O Donaile

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland