THE MANY LIVES OF COLM O'GORMAN
Added to www.alliancesupport.org on February 25, 2008
Child Abuse Victim; Head of victim's organisation 'One in Four'; Progressive Democrat Senator; PD Dail candidate; expressed interest in leading PDs; now Executive Director of Amnesty International (Ireland).
Colm O'Gorman's Career Curves, Phoenix Magazine, February 22 - March 6 2008
Colm O'Gorman's nose for career opportunity has recently honed in on the position of executive director of the Irish Section of Amnesty International, an organisation, O'Gorman says, that he first became aware of when he was in his first year in secondary school. This claim came in a laudatory article and interview in The Sunday Business Post last weekend in which O'Gorman rationalised a succession of U-turns.
O'Gorman first came to public attention as head of the sexual abuse victims' group One in Four, and there was some bemusement when he joined the PDs to stand in Wexford at the general election (he polled a disappointing 2,132 first preference votes). O'Gorman told the Post that he joined the party as it meant he "would not have to compromise his beliefs" and that "I didn't want to just go through the motions. I didn't want to join a party that would have made it easier for me to get elected." This hardly explains why O'Gorman first negotiated with the Labour Party before deciding to join the PDs as the prospect of taking a Labour seat in the same constituency as deputy leader Brendan Howlin were extremely remote.
Following his defeat and the PDs disaster at the general election, O'Gorman made a pitch for the leadership of the party in what Goldhawk construed as a bid to secure one of the two PD Seanad appointments amongst the Taoiseach's eleven (see The Phoenix, 27/7/07). In this period O'Gorman told The Irish Times that the urgent necessity of the PDs remaining in public life was a matter of "conviction, integrity and courage" and that he himself had carved out a reputation for "honesty and integrity, for plain speaking, but challenging what was wrong."
Having failed to get into the Seanad, O'Gorman quietly dropped out of the PD leadership race and out of the party altogether.
O'Gorman's initial attraction to the PDs as a party that would "not compromise his beliefs", are difficult to square with his claim in the Post that he "had an affinity with his new employer (Amnesty) going back 30 years". O'Gorman must surely recall how his recent party leader the then Minister for Justice Michael McDowell, refused to meet a representative of Amnesty International or even accept a phone call from the same quarter after he had refused Amnesty access to Irish prisons to conduct a survey on racism. Shortly before this request in 2002, Amnesty had been granted access to prisons in countries like Afghanistan, the USA, Nigeria and Russia for similar purposes.
As justice minister, McDowell also dismissed claims from many quarters - including Amnesty International - that the US military were using Shannon Airport as a stop-off point in the rendition of prisoners. Last week, O'Gorman described the Government's refusal to acknowledge the practise of rendition through Shannon as "fundamentally dishonest and, in my view, immoral."