Are ‘bad companions’ to blame for a prince’s downfall?

Are ‘bad companions’ to blame for a prince’s downfall? Prince Andrew

‘Bad companions’ – how often did I hear that expression in my schooldays. Warnings came from many quarters, including our catechism text, that ‘bad companions’ could lead us astray.

Parents and guardians were often on the lookout for ‘bad companions’. I was discouraged from a friendship with a girl a couple of years older because my uncle and aunt, with whom I lived, looked on her family as a suspicious influence. (They were perfectly decent people – just a bit ‘arty’ in our Dublin suburban world.)

Actually, I think I was sometimes the ‘bad companion’ to other youngsters!

The nuns recognised the tendency of naughty kids to cluster together, invoking the old adage: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Later on, as a journalist, I heard families blame the mishaps or the downfall of a young person – through drugs or criminality – on the same idea. “He got in with a bad crowd.”

Old theories often re-appear in modern guise, and now we see Britain’s Prince Andrew in the dock of moral opinion for his association with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew, Duke of York, was a pal of Epstein – who took his own life in a prison cell rather than face further charges – and more documentation is being disclosed daily proving that they were buddies. A photograph of Andrew with his arm around Virginia Roberts, a teenager who claims she was sexually abused, is repeatedly flashed across the global media.

The prince himself has strongly denied any inappropriate conduct towards young girls – saying he finds such accusations “abhorrent”.

Andrew is known to be Queen Elizabeth’s favourite child, which must be causing much family turbulence.

But the discourse is now around Andrew’s poor judgement in choosing to associate with a man like Epstein and his questionable entourage. Andrew “partied” with Epstein at least 20 times – even after Epstein’s first conviction for sex with under-age girls.

Even if the Duke of York is exonerated from any direct accusation of wrong-doing, he stands condemned for his choice of companions. He is guilty by the association that “birds of a feather flock together”.


I’m shocked to learn how much food Ireland imports. According to Eurostat statistics, the economic commentator Dan O’Brien tells us, last year Ireland imported more than twice as much food per person as the UK.

Half of Irish food imported is sourced in the UK – that almost certainly includes Northern Ireland for data purposes, but there must be a considerable amount from Britain itself.  More comestibles come from Continental Europe via the landbridge of England and Wales a geographical dependence on Britain

Ireland was once, quintessentially, an agricultural country. Why can’t more food be grown and produced in this country? I simply don’t understand why Ireland needs to import… potatoes.



Remembering legend Liam Clancy

Liam Clancy, who died in 2009, aged 74, was the youngest of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem quartet, with “the softest and most mellifluous voice amongst them, taking the lead on the slow airs, love songs and mournful ballads”. His mother was 47 when he was born in Carrick-on-Suir, Co. Tipperary, the youngest of seven.

His upbringing was materially frugal, but immersed in music, family, community and the religious life of mid-century Ireland. At the Christian Brothers he developed a great interest in literature and drama. His elder brothers had gone to America and he dreamed of joining them, as an actor. Working in Dublin in insurance, he obtained walk-on parts in Gaiety productions and even produced the Synge “Playboy”, himself, in Carrick.

Then a “moneyed American”, Diane Hamilton, offered to pay his passage to New York and he plunged into the bohemian life of 1950s Greenwich Village. Miss Hamilton mentored him, and pursued him sexually but, deeply religious at the time, he found her alarming. Yet with her support, the Clancy brothers recorded fifty albums between 1956 and 1961: they influenced Bob Dylan among many other artists and had a sellout tour of Ireland in 1962. Liam also continued to have a successful acting career.

But his singing career had its ups and downs, as the group broke up and then re-formed with different variations. His obituarist Lawrence William White remarks that some Irish critics thought his solo work was coloured by “stage-Irishry”, but he was still a legend, and even a pioneer of Ireland’s modern music revival.

He lived in Ring, Co. Waterford from 1983, suffering occasional bouts of alcoholism and depression. With his Donegal wife, Kim, he had four children, as well as three children from other relationships. He died in Cork, and his funeral was held at St Mary’s Catholic Church, Dungarvan.