Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Archive News

Time for a rethink on obsolete concept of privacy



Date Published: {J}

What point is there to privacy? None, if you would believe Google CEO Eric Schmidt. "If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know," he said in a recent interview with CNBC, "maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place" – a disarming dismissal of the idea that there might be a few activities that are better done without a crowd around. This would be an entertainingly radical notion coming from a sociology student. From the head of a corporation that could probably amass more detailed information about you than your government, doctor, employer and family put together, it’s . . . a little scary.

But isn’t it true? Though we are deeply attached to the idea that there are some things we can – must – only do in private, this ‘right to secrets’ is also what allows us to say different things to different people, to conspire and collude, to be dishonest. If everyone could know everything you did and said, getting away with any crime would be impossible.

It’s a mind-blowing idea, but we could create that world right now. Even now much of our written communication is stored not in drawers but on computers. Government already retains information about our phone communications (when, to whom, etc.), and with today’s technology it would be a trivial task to archive what we actually said as well. We have cameras in just about all public spaces – why not add microphones too? But I say public spaces; is there really any such thing as a private space?

A huge number of crimes, the overwhelming majority of sexual ones, take place in people’s homes. They should therefore be monitored as much as any other space. If there is anywhere at all to hide, that is where the crime will be committed. Privacy is not a concept you can partially eliminate.

I don’t mean that there should be people somewhere constantly monitoring all this. For a start it’s a logical impossibility – we would all have to spend all our time watching each other watch each other. Instead the information would be indexed, so that it can be searched just as efficiently as Google searches the Web. And within certain legal constraints searching it should be open to everyone. In this way, the ability to lie about what you did would become a thing of the past.


Take note of what I’m actually saying though: We can create a world where it would be possible to solve every crime. That does not mean we can prevent every crime. It might eliminate the ones that make for good TV, the carefully planned robberies and murders, but a greater part of human harm is much more spontaneous – much more stupid.

There would still be savage attacks, drunken brawls, mindless assaults. It would not stop those who no longer care about consequences, the deranged gunman or the suicide bomber. There would still tragedies of inattention and ineptitude, car collisions and child neglect. But premeditated crime, and indeed all forms of corruption and deceit, could be completely eliminated. We could live in an honest world. The only price: Our outdated concept of personal privacy. It might well be worth it.

That, or Eric Schmidt of Google is full of crap.

You can comment on this by logging on to”


Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

Continue Reading

Archive News

Galway have lot to ponder in poor show



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013




GALWAY’S first serious examination of the 2013 season rather disturbingly ended with a rating well below the 40% pass mark at the idyllic, if rather Siberian, seaside setting of Enniscrone on Sunday last.

The defeat cost Galway a place in the FBD League Final against Leitrim and also put a fair dent on their confidence shield for the bigger tests that lie ahead in February.

There was no fluke element in this success by an understrength Sligo side and by the time Leitrim referee, Frank Flynn, sounded the final whistle, there wasn’t a perished soul in the crowd of about 500 who could question the justice of the outcome.

It is only pre-season and last Sunday’s blast of dry polar winds did remind everyone that this is far from summer football, but make no mistake about it, the match did lay down some very worrying markers for Galway following a couple of victories over below par third level college teams.

Galway did start the game quite positively, leading by four points at the end of a first quarter when they missed as much more, but when Sligo stepped up the tempo of the game in the 10 minutes before half-time, the maroon resistance crumbled with frightening rapidity.

Some of the statistics of the match make for grim perusal. Over the course of the hour, Galway only scored two points from play and they went through a 52 minute period of the match, without raising a white flag – admittedly a late rally did bring them close to a draw but that would have been very rough justice on Sligo.

Sligo were backable at 9/4 coming into this match, the odds being stretched with the ‘missing list’ on Kevin Walsh’s team sheet – Adrian Marren, Stephen Coen, Tony Taylor, Ross Donovan, David Kelly, David Maye, Johnny Davey and Eamon O’Hara, were all marked absent for a variety of reasons.

Walsh has his Sligo side well schooled in the high intensity, close quarters type of football, and the harder Galway tried to go through the short game channels, the more the home side bottled them up.

Galway badly needed to find some variety in their attacking strategy and maybe there is a lot to be said for the traditional Meath style of giving long, quick ball to a full forward line with a big target man on the edge of the square – given Paul Conroy’s prowess close to goal last season, maybe it is time to ‘settle’ on a few basics.

Defensively, Galway were reasonably solid with Gary Sice at centre back probably their best player – he was one of the few men in maroon to deliver decent long ball deep into the attacking zone – while Finian Hanley, Conor Costello and Gary O’Donnell also kept things tight.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Continue Reading

Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


Continue Reading