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“It’s not just sports stars – the problem is with young males in general”

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A week on from the acquittal of Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, the nation continues to dissect the details from the hugely divisive Belfast rape trial. One of the more controversial aspects of the whole debacle is the content of the WhatsApp messages sent back and forth between the accused and their friends in the aftermath of the incident at a house party in Jackson’s home.

Some of the language that was used is too vulgar to be repeated in this publication, but suffice to say it was incredibly disrespectful to the girl in question, and to women in general.

Like any right-minded individual, I’m naturally appalled by what was said. The comments were pathetic. But, to be completely honest, I’m not one bit shocked by the tone of the conversations.

I’ve been added to a lot of different football and soccer teams' WhatsApps down through the years, both at home and abroad, and I've also been in plenty of WhatsApp groups with other young men that had nothing to do with sports. While I’ve never witnessed anything as bad as the messages retrieved from Jackson and co.’s phones, I have seen things get fairly crude.

So I think it’s wrong to say that this kind of misogyny is the domain of professional athletes. None of the worst offenders in the WhatsApp groups I’ve been in previously were entitled soccer stars, or intercounty players, they were just regular fellas, some of whom happened to play sport in their spare time. The problem isn’t just with young male sports stars. The problem is with young males in general.

As public figures, athletes have more of a responsibility to behave appropriately than the regular guy on the street who isn’t idolised by millions of kids. Therefore it makes sense to try and correct their behaviour. But what about the 99.9% of young men who aren't elite athletes? If they disrespect women, is that somehow less wrong?

Many observers have criticised the IRFU for not educating its players. I agree that employers certainly have a duty to educate athletes about the dangers that come with fame and fortune, but should the IRFU really have to teach its players to respect women? And, perhaps more to the point, can they?

The accused in this trial behaved the way they did because they thought it was okay. And not just okay. From the way they boasted in the group, they clearly felt that this kind of behaviour is admirable. “Why are we all such legends?” Society has told them that this is how legends act. For cases like this to become a thing of the past, society has to change. That’s obviously easier said than done.

When reading the reactions in the media, one thing I noticed was the number of men who said they were disgusted by the WhatsApp messages. I don’t doubt their sincerity, but how many of them actually call out misogynistic behaviour when they encounter it themselves? How many of them simply say “yeah” and laugh awkwardly, or post a crying laughing emoji, just to avoid the awkwardness of confrontation? I have 100% been guilty of it myself. The expression, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” comes to mind.

I would like to think that my response will be different in the future. Changing the attitude of an entire demographic is a tall order. Changing your own, however, should be manageable enough.

 

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Muckross Rowing Club members on Irish teams for two major regattas

  Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events. Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse […]

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Six members of Muckross Rowing Club will compete for Ireland in two upcoming international events.

Rowing Ireland this week announced the Irish squads for the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta.

Daniel Fleming and Ian Coffey have both been selected for the Under 19 Irish squad to race at the Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta for European junior rowers. The Coupe de la Jeunesse Regatta, involving 16 European countries, will be held over from over three days, August 9-11 in Racice, Czechia.

Four Under 23 university rowers from the Muckross club have also been selected as part of the Senior Irish squad for the Home International Regatta this month.

Niamh Coffey (University of Limerick), Patrick Buckley (University of Limerick), Finn O’Sullivan (University of Limerick) and Ethan O’Neill (University College Cork Rowing Club) will take on the ‘Triple Crown’ event of rowing, competing for Ireland against crews from England, Scotland and Wales.

The Home International Regatta will be held on Saturday, July 27 in Strathclyde, Scotland.

All six Muckross rowers have earned their green jerseys following a lengthy and testing trial series on land and water which began in Autumn 2023 and culminated in final water trials at the end of June.

“Muckross Rowing Club sends its best wishes to the very talented Muckross oarsmen and women and all their crewmates as they fly the flag for Ireland this summer. The talented group build on a successful record in the sport,” said club PRO Tim O’Shea.

Niamh Coffey is a multiple Irish and University Championship winner and has previously represented Ireland in the Under 23 European Championships.

In 2022, O’Neill rowed at Junior level at the Home International event and won a gold medal as part of the Irish quadruple scull crew in the 500m sprint event.

Both Buckley and O’Sullivan continue to compete at the highest level nationally with the University of Limerick Rowing Club,  and join the Irish squad for the first time this year.

The international selections come at an exciting time before the Olympic Regatta in Paris, where Zoe Hyde (Tralee Rowing Club) will be among the largest Irish rowing contingent of 16 rowers to contest an Olympic Games.

Killorglin native Zoe has previously rowed for both Killorglin and Muckross rowing clubs and will race the Women’s Double event for Ireland with Alison Bergin (Fermoy Rowing Club) in Paris.

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Valuable role of Kerry cancer support charity recognised nationally

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Cancer support charity Recovery Haven Kerry has been recognised for its vital role in supporting cancer patients and their families at a national ceremony in Dublin.

The renowned cancer support house was one of 16 such centres across Ireland that were presented with plaques to acknowledge their full membership of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) Alliance – a group made up of voluntary and charity organisations delivering support services directly to cancer patients and their families. An additional 10 associate member charities were also honoured, including Kerry Cancer Support Group.

The Alliance advocates for, and supports, the development of integrated pathways between the cancer centres, acute hospitals, community cancer support services and primary care services. All members’ development is in line with the values of Sláintecare, seeking to provide assurance to healthcare professionals that these organisations are working to an agreed standard as set out in Best Practice Guidance published by the NCCP. 

Speaking after the ceremony, which was held at Dublin’s Farmleigh Estate, Recovery Haven Kerry Chairman, Tim McSwiney, explained that being compliant with the Best Practice Guidance for Community Cancer Support Centres is a true mark of quality. 

“It offers us a yardstick to measure what we are doing against the standards required. As a result, healthcare professionals have more confidence in referring people to our services. We are very proud to be a member of the Alliance,” he said.

Recovery Haven Kerry was represented at the event by centre manager, Gemma Fort and Client Services Co-Ordinator, Siobhan MacSweeney and were presented with their plaque by NCCP Lead for Cancer Survivorship, Louise Mullen, Clinical Lead for Psycho-Oncology Dr Helen Greally, and Minister of State at the Department of Health, Colm Burke. 

The event was also used as an opportunity to announce funding of €3m for the NCCP’s Alliance of Community Cancer Support Centres and Services through Budget 2024. The NCCP is currently in the process of distributing these funds which will directly and positively impact the delivery of services for patients and families nationally.

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