Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Poet And His Boys

Neasa Ni Chianain went to Nepal to make a documentary about poet Cathal O Searcaigh. What she came back with was a story of a Western man exploiting boys.

There has been an uproar, from those who felt that RTE should never have broadcast the program, to those who think An Garda Siochana should investigate the poet for child abuse. Was the director trying to tarnish the image of a talented writer? Was the talented writer an unrepentant pervert?

As a noted Irish poet, O Searcaigh's works are studied in Irish schools. If he's a pedophile as portrayed, should children study his poems? It took two hours of discussion before the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment could decide what to do.

In the end, it was determined that the work had literary merit, and should remain part of the curriculum. No need for teachers to say a word about the man's sexual preferences, no need to bring in his private life since that's private.

Minister of Education Mary Hanafin has taken the advice of the council and decreed that students sitting the Leaving Cert will find O Searcaigh on the test. The written words are too important to be cast aside. No one is complaining about Oscar Wilde any more, are they?

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