Do we think before we ink?

X-Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos and boyfriend, Danny Simpson recently underscored their love with a trip to the local tattoo studio.  Closer to home, Deirdre Cashion talks to tattoo fans about their passionate love of body art.

Tattoos are no longer the preserve of the celebrity footballer, pervasive pop princess, criminal overlord or street junkie.  People of all ages and from all walks of life are decorating their bodies, inspired by fashionable trends or by their own artistic creativity and life experience.

Some spend years working towards a full body-suit; a multi-coloured, intricate canvas of narrative art with skulls, serpents, script and a host of religious imagery.  Others opt for a discreetly-placed, subtle symbol of love or loss – a constant, visual reminder of a time of emotional upheaval in their lives. Read more

Motherhood or Motherland?

Are women forced to choose between family life and public life?  Both can co-exist four female TDs tell Deirdre Cashion but it’s hardly child’s play.

A dramatic shift in the traditional role of women in Irish society is well underway and there are encouraging signs that our Constitution is about to catch up.

At the most recent plenary session of the Constitutional Convention, a body tasked with considering certain topics as possible future constitutional amendments, 88 per cent of delegates voted to change Article 41.2, which singles out for special mention, the role of women in the home.

Delegates also heard submissions on the broader question of female participation in public life – its universal relevance reflected by the popularity of the recent Danish political drama, ‘Borgen’, which revealed the spectacular failure of Prime Minister, Birgitte Nyborg to successfully juggle her family life with the affairs of state.

‘Borgen’ might be fiction but fiction has become reality for the Danes with the election of their first female Premier, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.  It’s difficult to envisage a similar development in Dáil Eireann any time soon, where just 15 per cent are women.

‘Weekend’ spoke to our young female TDs about motherhood, the challenges of public life, gender quotas and the prospect of a female Taoiseach ever taking leaders’ questions in the Dáil. Read more

Rescued from the horror by the ‘Irish Schindler’

Sunday is Holocaust Memorial Day, but this year’s Irish events will be missing a significant voice, writes Deirdre Cashion

AN EMPTY chair at this Sunday’s Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration will serve as a painful reminder that the community has lost one of its most passionate and colourful commentators on the horrors of genocide.

Holocaust survivor Zoltan Zinn-Collis, who passed away last December, aged 72, at his home in Athy, Co Kildare, will be sadly missed by those who gather to remember the victims of Nazi atrocities. Read more

Review of The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen

Reveiw of The Hunt starring Mads Mikkelsen5/5
Now and again a movie comes along, whose powerful and disturbing images stay with you long after the credits have rolled.  Now and again an extraordinary screen performance evokes such intense pain and raw emotion that you leave the theatre stunned into silence, almost numbed by the previous 115 minutes of pure cinematic genius.

Danish production, The Hunt (Jagten) is such a movie; a harrowing, deeply unsettling story of the devastating consequences for kindergarten teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), falsely accused of molesting Klara (Anika Wedderkopp),  his best friend’s daughter. Read more

Case Closed: “Crime of the Century”

The police sketch of the kidnapper. Notice the strong resemblance to John Knoll.

The beer flowed freely as John Knoll chatted with his regular customers about events of the day. The post-Prohibition ‘Emerald Isle’ bar was a popular haunt with Irish-Catholics in the Yonkers neighbourhood of New York State and Knoll claimed to be one of them – an Irish emigrant, forced to leave behind his beloved homeland in search of a better life in the land of opportunity.

But history may have finally caught up with John Knoll, who was in fact Johannes Knoll, a German emigrant from the small town of Herxheimweyher in Rheinland Pfalz.

For the first time, a revealing new book from author, Robert Zorn (54) publicly names John Knoll as the callous mastermind and ringleader behind the 1932 “Crime of the Century” – the abduction and murder of the son of pioneering aviator and American hero, Charles A Lindbergh, the first man to fly non-stop from New York to Paris.

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Murder in Munich

The 1972 Irish Olympic Squad

40 years on, members of the 1972 Irish Olympic squad reflect on one of the most dramatic weeks of their lives.

With dreams in their pockets and hope in their hearts, over 7,000 athletes from 121 countries converged on the city of Munich on 26 August 1972, for the opening ceremony of the 20th Olympiad.

But the joy of medal success would soon be shattered by tragic events at 31 Connollystrasse.

In the early hours of 5 September, eight members of ‘Black September’, a Palestinian terrorist commando, scaled the ring-chain fence of the Olympic village, loaded their weapons, readied their grenades and forced their way into Apartment 1 – the block where the Israeli athletes were housed. Read more

Crime and Punishment: Can Ireland learn from Sheriff Joe?

Thousands of angry protestors recently demanded the immediate closure of America’s largest canvas prison compound in Maricopa County, Arizona.  But can the Irish penal system learn a thing or two from Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

The mercury rises to an unbearable 53 degrees Celsius.  The searing, mid-day, desert sun beams down on the canvas roof of the tent compound – the only protection, which 2,000 men and women have from the relentless, blistering heat.

You could certainly fry an egg on the stones here, if you had an egg.  But it seems like an eternity since breakfast and there’s just one more meal to come today.

This is not Iraq or some other middle-Eastern, war-torn battlefield.  This is ‘Tent City’, America’s largest canvas prison compound, where thousands of protestors gathered last weekend to demand its immediate closure on the grounds of human rights violations. Read more

Review of ‘The Bridge’ – BBC Four

Not content with the plunder and pillage of our shores in 795, our Scandinavian brethren favour a more subtle form of invasion these days – that of our TV screens.

The latest wave of Nordic crime drama hit BBC Four this week with The Bridge – a dark, fast-paced and gripping production, which follows the investigation into the dumping of a female corpse on the Oresund Bridge between Malmo and Copenhagen.

Detectives believe the victim to be a Swedish politician but on closer examination discover that the corpse, which has been severed below the waist, actually comprises two bodies – the bottom half belonging to a drug-addicted, Danish prostitute. Read more

I’ve made over €2m from poker — but don’t tell me it’s glamorous

It’s 9am in sunny Los Angeles. John O’Shea is off to bed for some well-deserved rest after 12 hours straight at the poker table. But the 27-year-old Dubliner sounds decidedly downbeat. He’s had a bad run on the green baize over four or five days and has lost $150,000 (€112,000) — about 25pc of his bankroll, or float.

For most ordinary punters, this would be unimaginable. But for O’Shea, it’s just another day at the office.

That week’s loss isn’t exactly small change — even by O’Shea’s high standards — but with estimated career profits of $2m (€1.5m), there’s plenty more left in the kitty.

O’Shea is doing what thousands of Irish online players dream about: he gave up his well-paid job to become a poker professional. And, although he doesn’t regret the decision, he’s no longer starry-eyed about his career change. Read more

I survived the Nazi death camps — but I don’t want war criminals to go to jail

The death this week of a 91-year-old Nazi concentration camp guard brought back a flood of memories for a Co Kildare father.

The man who died, Ukrainian John Demjanjuk, was appealing against his conviction for the murder of 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp in Nazi occupied Poland in 1943.

The man who remembered was concentration camp survivor Zoltan Zinn-Collis, who now lives in Athy. Mr Zinn-Collis, who was brought here after the war by a man known as ‘the Irish Schindler’, this week joined in the debate about whether old war criminals should still be sought more than 60 years later. Read more