E-Mail file:-

~ To:- Mr. David Lloyd, Senior Commissioner, Editor News, Channel 4.

Tel: 0171-306-8333 Fax: 0171-306-8359

~ From :- Mr. R. Whiston

Thursday, 07 January 1999

Dear Mr. Lloyd,

RE: Dispatches - Thursday, 07 January 1999

Bearing in mind the contribution I and others have made to bring the problems facing men to the attention programme makers, I thought you might be interested in an extract from my letter to Lord Clifford of Nov 25th 1998: -

".. .. .. I have just finished a telephone conversation with a women-representing Paula Schneider of Channel 4. Rather tersely she said, she, Paula Schneider or Channel 4 "were not prepared to enter into talks of even discuss the matter" [i.e. of providing an extra line for callers after the Dispatches programme {then scheduled for Decí98} about female violence to men].

Previously it had been my experience, I replied, that such Helplines had been overwhelmed and that one could only get through days later (e.g. NSPCC and child abuse).

The "occasions when that happens are rare" and must reflect my experience with other television companies. As she didnít ask my name I had to propose she took it "as you may not already have it".

She would not promise to call me. She wouldnít comment or commit as to size of response or plans to cope with it. When Paula Schneider did phone me a day or so later she reiterated more or less the same with the addition that she alone would plan for the response size but said it cold be about same as for women".

I have to tell you now, that such provisions have proven inadequate. The lines are overwhelmed and as I type this letter the line is still unobtainable. Sadly, I have been proven more correct in my assessment of the situation than the so-called experts and "professionals".

The reason is quite straightforward. Men up until this point had no national contact helpline; they have had no national focus; nowhere in short to turn while women have dozens of options. The only Helpline for men was closed down - not because it wasnít used but because itís funding was withdrawn.

Now thatís News - so make it into a story.

Womenís Aid received £9m six months ago but still pleads poverty. It canít keep open, or says it canít, what hostels it already has and women (former inmates) tell me that the living conditions and state of repair in them is awful. So where has the £9m gone ?

Now, if that isnít another newsworthy story, I donít know what is.

 

Yours truly,

 

Robert Whiston.

 

Dublin; Conference - Domestic violence and abuse of men. [Ver 2]

1. SCANDAL ROCKS IRISH CONFERENCE. [Ver 2]

Govít ministers dived for cover when the worldís first conference on male victims of domestic violence opened in Dublin. Two senior Irish Govít ministers, the Minister for Equality and the Justice Minister, and one junior minister had "pencilled-in" the date and indicated a willingness to attend but then all three cried-off at the last moment.

Sensation and then scandal rocked the staging of the worlds first conference on abuse and violence suffered by men. Sensational revelations continued unabated all day both inside and outside the auditorium. Thursday Dec 10th 1998 may very well go down as a turning point in the infamous war of gender politics.

The subject of the conference made it a first for Dublin, a first for men and a first for the world. But old habits and stereotypes die hard. No sooner had word leaked out that both Ministers had cancelled at the last moment than it was announced that the Junior Minister for Equality, Mary Wallace, would instead be attending a conference hastily organised by Womenís Aid. It later transpired that she is chairperson of the National Steering Committee (NSC) on Violence Against Women. An umbrella organisation for domestic violence, the National Women Council, Womenís Aid and rape crisis lobby groups.

These dramatic developments were in turn overshadowed by the news that the same female minister, Mary Wallace, had announced a £5 million grant to Irelandís Womenís Aid. This news rocked conference delegates

The scandal was timed for mid-morning release. Undoubtedly intended to catch the headlines of the evening papers its purpose was to push coverage of the menís conference off the pages. Fortunately this didnít happen. Both events got equal coverage in both the Belfast and Dublin evening and subsequent morning papers.

The scandalous behaviour by a blatantly biased Minister for Equality in granting the £5 million to Irelandís Womenís Aid was only reinforced when the Irish Times, and other evening papers, carried her picture holding up a banner in support of Womenís Aid. Faith in the integrity of Ministers, Irelandís judicial system and the even-handedness of both has thus been severely compromised.

In the short term the Minister mayíve thought she was heading off trouble but doubtless Irelandís Opposition parties will seize the chance to demonstrate the mere nominal nature of equality issues in Ireland. Perversely, it is reassuring to know that true inequality and female preference masquerading as equality is as much alive and dwells in Irelandís green and very pleasant land as it does in ours.

Itís such a pity that such a lovely peoples and lovely country (North and South of the border) should be burdened with obsolete and malfunctioning UK legislation. Always about 2 years behind the Britain it gives the UKMM no pleasure to note that men in Ireland are suffering as we are. After all, we also seem unable to throw off the "hand-me-downs" of shoddy and ineffective legislation imported from Australia and the US.

The junior Minister for Equality and Law Reform, Mary Wallace, announced to the National Steering Committee (NSC) on Violence Against Women conference that money would be directed into research to establish why women were raped. Such information is freely available in the UK and the US and one wonders abut the uniqueness of rape in the Irish situation!

End of articles one.

 

Article 2.

  1. Politicians play into our hands !! [Ver 2] Discrimination Masquerading as Equality.

To the uninitiated the apparent snub by Irish ministers appears at first sight, to be a reversal of fortune Ė even a defeat.

But in actualitie (French so intalicise it) the conduct of the Irish minister at the Dublin conference play straight into the hands of Menís Rights.

Ask yourself 1/. When was the last time a politician from any political party gave us, as a mens and fathers organisation, unequivocal support and 2/. When was the last time they handed us live rounds of ammunition to finish of the job ? Precisely !!

The snub, if thatís what it was, was far too blatant. To have been really effective they should have been played thier cards more deftly. To be convincing the cards should have been dealt in a far more superior and subtle manner. In short, it was a hand that was played too hard.

Ones first reaction to a Govít minister cancelling might be to play down the difficulty as perhaps reflecting on either oneself or, more generally, the conference organisers. A very natural reflex. But in real politik the complete opposite is true.

The ministers have diminished not the conference, but themselves. They have publicly demonstrated that they dare not take on the forces of Male Equality. They have illustrated that they are incapable of identifying the "core issues" for which they were thought eminently qualified before appointment to their Depts.

The issues we stand for challenge the status quo and they donít yet know how to respond appropriately. Locked into a time warp they canít stop differentiating between sexes.

Ministerial advisors must now realise that they have blundered into giving counterproductive advice. This official cowardice was compounded by the fact that the Minister for Justice, John OíDonoghue and the Minster for Social Community and Family Affairs, Dermet Ahearn, also welshed on their earlier intention of attending the seminar.

In a naïve attempt to keep faith with the sisterhood (which represents less than 1% of real women), the Minister for Equality, Mary Wallace, and the other two ministers have proven their inappropriateness to hold office. There was, therefore, no one to deliver the address in their place with the ineptitude compounded by the failure of the minister to send someone from her dept as an observer

No attempt was made to visit both conferences on the same day Ė an hour at each would to a worldly wise and seasoned campaigner have been politic.

Inadvertently, these two witless ministers may have made the Govít a hostage to fortune. Any smart Opposition will seize upon the opportunity to make a surgical strike. Any Minister for Equality who can not recognise equality issues is not fit for office. Calls for her resignation must only be a few days a way.

The ruling Govít party in Ireland is Fianna Fail with Labour in opposition. Miss Roisin Shortall represented the Labour party at the conference and spoke of the need to recognise domestic violence as equality not a gender issue. Mr. Jim Higgins of Fine Gael contrasted the gender neutral written law with the discriminatory interpretation of the same law. Sound familiar ?

End

 

Article 3

3. Conference notes [Ver 2]

So the scene was set in Dublin for a first conference into male victims/survivors of female domestic violence. As a result of all the political and ministerial maelstrom there was a heightened sense of anticipation.

All the planning, all the hard work of Mary Cleary and her colleagues of the charity Amen was about to be put to the test. Mary Cleary, who founded and runs AMEN (the helpline for male victims of domestic violence and abuse in Dec 1997) knows both sides of the violence coin.

Working in womenís refuge she like Erin Pizzey soon came to realise that there was another unseen side to domestic violence Ė the male victim. Since then her helpline has been inundated. Set up to begin with in a temporarily and non-professional manner the local, and then national, response to her helpline run from the kitchen table was phenomenal (Amen - fax 00353-46-23718, website: www.iol.ie/-amen) with over 3,000 calls per year.

As a result the speakers were even more attentively listened to and the reception by all delegates was positive. Many of the men had either benefited from being able to phone Mary or had passed on clients to her. The more so because some survivors of stabbing and assaults told their stories in both the morning an afternoon session. This achievement should not be underestimated. It is far more difficult for a man to go public on this issue than you might imagine and the pain of revealing it to a mixed audience many non-believers was palpable.

The fee paying audience was made up of just over 200 delegates with a composition of about 60% men and 40% women. Erin Pizzey, author and campaigner, delivered the keynote speech and introduced the morning session. John Waters of the Irish Times was the chairman throughout the day. He too has had personal experiences with the more ragged side of matrimonial and inter-sexual relationships. Together these two authors brought street credibility to what could have been an esoteric debate

Ken Connolly a barrister pulled out at the last moment and another Irish speaker scheduled for the afternoon (Colm Keane, senior producer with RTE [Irish Television] and an award winning journalist and author) also found he was unable to attend.

Dr. M. George, FRSA, is senior lecturer at Queen Mary and Westfield College, London University and author of many papers and books on related issues. His delivered a performance polished. The focus was always intense and the rigours leading to conclusions were irreproachable. Not once did Dr George allow himself to over-elaborate or force a contentious conclusion.

At question time the audience could only get cold buffet as he dealt objectively and dispassionately with the figures and surveys results. The Doctor could not be drawn to make rash or unsubstaintable statements even when pressed by several members of Womenís Aid.

By a synthesis of lecture and question and answer it soon emerged that domestic violence is not a gender specific issue but a societal issue. And further, because it is a societal issue but is seen as a gender one by some interested parties, those parties are "in denial". A denial that says women are incapable of evil. This denial comes not just from men and institutions but from women generally. As the lectures underlined, we are dealing with two taboos. One that women can be as violent as men and secondly, that men are victims of wifely abuse. Men say and do nothing about it because that is the conditioning society expects. This expectation forces itself upon the individual and then upon institutions affecting the way in which they respond.

The afternoon, however, stated off completely differently. The speaker, an Irish barrister, was only five minutes into his address about the Irish legal system when he provoked thunder and lightening from his audience. Angry reactions reverberated around the auditorium as he assailed his audience of, by now, mostly men for their general lethargy.

After a pregnant pause he resumed but still in the same tactless manner. Within seconds yet another stormy reception was meted out to this apologist-for-the-system solicitor from sections of the audience.

Slightly more ruffled he stopped and asked advice as to whether to continue from the chair. In the event he decided to press on pointlessly pointing out how the system works and how it endeavours to be forever. Trading on the enforced silence his message was that men were their own worst enemy by not attending court properly prepared or failing to turn up at all. He quietly savaged men for not seeking legal advise, leaving solicitors (and he quoted personal experiences) with the impossible task of explaining to a judge why his client had not turned up.

At which point certain members of the audience could restraint themselves no longer and began to heckle and then question these assertions whilst he was in full flood. Echoes of grandmother to suck eggs and coals to Newcastle mixed into a potent brew.

His address, to put it kindly, was insensitive and better suited to an all-female audience. Perhaps, on reflection, heíd been booked for the Womenís Aid gathering across town and gone to the wrong venue.

He then made the fatal error of appearing to dismiss and discount the statistical data of surveys. Not only was this a poorly disguised discourtesy to the morning speaker, Prof. George, but the gambit rebounded on him. We all concluded we were listening to a very the shallow solicitor.

(Speaking personally, I never cease to be amazed by the average legal professionals inability to grasp anything with numbers in it e.g. accountancy, money, profits, trusts and statistics etc.)

From that point on his fate was sealed; as a speaker he was a condemned man. The audience grew restless and finally the keg blew. Someone in the audience shouted out to remind the lawyer that it was he, and not the client that had failed to turn up for his court hearing. And then the delegate added that he was the client in question and had retained his services. Amid hoots of derision the delegate then asked him to explain why it was he (the professional) who had left his client to defend himself unaided.

The UKMM delegate, always vociferous, followed other men out of the auditorium so is unable to bring you the rest of the proceedings. Reportedly the situation was redeemed however by the second speaker Ė this times a barrister. By all accounts the second legal speaker, Kieran Woods, was far more reasonable and mature. Mr. Woods is a barrister on the Dublin and northern circuits. Specialising as he does in family law his name will be a useful addition to members in those parts of the geographical British Isles he serves. In common with the chairman he too had gone through a divorce and custody battles.

Your delegate now has to confess to an error and make an apology to the first legal speaker of the afternoon. In the evening, over beer it would appear that his general assertion that most men donít prepare for their case is a truthful one Ė sorry. It should also be noted that the pressure not to attend for some professionals must have been considerable. It must, therefore, be judged in the circumstances, as brave for the first legal speaker of the afternoon to attend and deliver his address.

However, the beers also bought out more interesting stories. It soon became apparent that this is not the only scandal in Irish politics. Perhaps, with editorial permission, Male View may consider running stories of the shockingly hypocritical private lives of Irish politicians, Private lives that the Irish press is not allowed or is unwilling to publish. Dublin is awash with household names, of both sexes, that are embroiled in sordid sex scandals and immoral life styles.

End of article 3.