David Kelly, CEO FBD Property & Leisure Group (FBDPLL) and Stephanie Roche

This afternoon.

At the Castleknock Country House Hotel.

Striker Stephanie Roche signing  up as ambassador for the FBD Property and Leisure group.

As part of this new role, Stephanie will take part in “a series of events over the coming 12 months within the Irish and Spanish properties as well as a trip to the Ploughing Championships”.

Fair play, in fairness.

(Sasko Lazarov/Photocall ireland)


Gangnam District, Seoul, Korea.

Home of Psy and plastic surgery.

David Keelaghan is a Monaghan-born journalist working for the Korea Times in Soeul, Korea.

He writes:

South Korea is a country that has come so far so fast it is now facing somewhat of an identity crisis. From the ashes of the Korean War developed a nation that is now the world’s 13th largest economy according to recent IMF data. One of the most technologically advanced countries on earth; nevertheless it still clings to tradition in many ways.

It is the world leader in internet connectivity, but a place where the censorship inherent during its military dictatorship past still rears its head far too often.

Its Confucian roots mean respect for one’s elders is paramount, yet it spends less on social services than any other member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

While being one of the few countries to have a female head of state in Park Guen-hye, it also has the highest gender pay divide in the OECD. Yes, Korea is a nation of great contradictions

Of course, considering where it was in 1953 when the armistice with the North was signed, and where it stands today, these problems, while undoubtedly challenging, are far from insurmountable.

Another industry where South Korea leads the way is plastic surgery – the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery estimates it has the highest rate of cosmetic surgery per capita of any country.

Whether that is a good or bad thing is open to debate, but the economic benefits are certainly there for all to see. The district of Gangnam, made famous (or infamous) by the singer Psy, is the entertainment and nightlife heartland of Seoul.

Besides that, in recent years it has become an international cosmetic surgery destination with 74 percent of Seoul’s clinics situated there, leading it to be dubbed “the plastic surgery capital of Asia.”

That moniker is well earned, something you immediately recognise when you arrive in Gangnam and notice the ubiquitous plastic surgery advertisements. Despite the steady flow of customers arriving daily, the sheer amount of clinics in the district means competition is fierce, leading to methods being used you certainly wouldn’t find anywhere in the Hippocratic Oath.

Last month a Chinese woman was declared brain dead after undergoing cosmetic surgery at a hospital in Gangnam.

Commenting on the case, the Korean Association of Plastic Surgeons (KAPS) said the hospital in question had been run by an advertising agency official who did not even possess a medical license.

The incident, while shocking, was reflective of a much greater problem within the industry in terms of regulation. Quite simply, there isn’t any. This means injury and death from botched cosmetic surgery is becoming more and more prevalent.

Such was the case with the 21-year old female college student, identified only by her surname Jung, who died two hours after facial bone contouring surgery at a clinic in southern Seoul last December; or the death of the 54-year-old woman who passed away after suffering difficulties breathing while undergoing liposuction three months earlier.

And those are just the extreme cases where people have died. The Korea Consumer Agency said it received complaints from 4,816 people in 2013, up 28.5 percent from the previous year, regarding treatment they received. Of that number, 71 percent were about clinics in Seoul, with Gangnam accounting for 80.9 percent of that amount.

The 2014 figures have yet to be released, but with the Seoul Metropolitan Government aggressively pushing its medical tourism industry, of which plastic surgery brought in 21,364 patients in 2013 – the second largest medical segment – the chances of malpractice cases dropping looks slim.

Dr. Jae-jin Ock practices at “THE Plastic Surgery Clinic” in Sinsa-dong in Gangnam. A member of KAPS, he identifies the main reasons why the industry’s reputation has started to suffer.

“There is no regulation or by-law that governs the difference between a plastic surgery specialist and a mere cosmetic doctor. A doctor’s license in Korea can be used in any medical field. The license does not guarantee the level of a doctor; it is simply a legal permit. I think a procedure to determine whether a doctor is ready for more specialized care is needed.”

The issue of specialists and non-specialists is something Professor Chul Park at the Auroplastic Research Center of the Korea University Medical Center considers a major black mark for the industry also.

“A plastic surgery specialist is a surgeon who has had a four-year residency training under qualified plastic surgeons.

Specialists are not only well aware of the specific fields, but also any complications that may occur. Someone that simply practices plastic surgery does not have to have residency training; it could be a dentist or an ophthalmologist or any other doctor. Anyone who has graduated from medical school can attain the license and practice plastic surgery by law.”

The thought of someone performing highly complex and dangerous surgery without proper training would be disconcerting for most people – like finding out the local bus driver was piloting the 747 you were about to board.

Dr. Ock believes the phenomenon of doctors from across the medical sphere entering the cosmetic surgery industry comes down to simple economics.

“With the growing demand for cosmetic surgery, there will be more and more unprepared surgeons. It is the fundamentals of the market. Then, patients from overseas usually have no way to verify the expertise of doctors and this causes a lot of side effects and complications in the long run.

Prof. Park agrees with this point regarding some doctors’ skewed thinking on the matter.

“A large number of foreign patients come to Korea especially from China, Russia and central Asia. This provides a good chance for us to invest in our medical technology. However, some doctors focus too much on business/commercial concerns and forget the main purpose of a medical practice. Some doctors focus more on quantity of patients rather than the quality of the practice and this leads to malpractice.”

While the clinics face much of the criticism for abuses in the system, there is another dark hand at play when it comes to this issue. Medical brokers who act as intermediaries between international patients and clinics in Korea have a stranglehold on the industry according to many doctors.

One such doctor is Prof. Park, who specialises in reconstructive surgery involving ears at Anam Hospital in Seoul.

“Currently, when patients come to Korea for a medical procedure, a broker serves as a medium between patient and doctor. Normally practitioners only get 50% of the actual charge or even less sometimes with the rest going to brokers. These brokers ignite competition among doctors and many practitioners often work too much and get burned out. Of course, this could deteriorate the quality of the medical practice.”

South Korea emerging from economic backwater to global export powerhouse in just a few decades is often referred to as “The Miracle on the Han.”

The reason the country was able to achieve this was far from divine intervention, however, but rather the toil of its people. Now a wealthy country, it has different “First World” problems to overcome. The expansion of lucrative cosmetic surgery businesses outpacing legislation is one such example. For Dr. Jae-jin Ock, a thriving industry is surely positive, albeit holding a large caveat that changes are necessary to safeguard its future.

“Development of the system is necessary to maintain the market. What is required is a proper distinction between the specialized doctors and general doctors. We also need a variety of new programs for the training and assessment for new surgeons we will need in the years ahead.”

David also blogs here


The latest ‘Trust Barometer 2015′ by global PR giant Edelman.

if you can believe a global PR giant.


John Gallen writes:

“Some pointers: Irish people are now the least trusting people of all countries measured (no Greece on this). The measure is that of trust in “government, business, the media and NGOs”.Goverment remains the least trusted at 26%, despite a +5% points increase on last year. NGOs are the most trusted despite falling 10 percentage points to 48%. Business is at 38% (down 3% points) and the media is down 3% points year on year (but is down 11% points since 2013).”


View slide presentation here


Pro-same sex marriage group  Vote With Us offering voters a “chance to find and share reasons to vote yes in the upcoming referendum on marriage equality”.

NO hectoring.

Eoin Wison (not the actor) writes:

Vote With Us is an exciting new campaign for the yes and undecided voters. Referendum campaigns are often held hostage by the same commentators, playing out the debate out of reach of everyday people. We hope this campaign will hand the conversation back to Irish voters and allow them to positively engage others in a respectful and hopeful way, up and down the country

Vote With Us


Former Fine gael Senator Niamh Cosgrave and her French Spaniel


This morning former Fine Gael Senator Niamh Cosgrave, who’s been living in Chef-Boutanne, in the west of France, since 2007, spoke to Seán O’Rourke about how she was raped almost two and a half years ago.

Earlier this month, her attacker, serial rapist Christian Gladieux was jailed for 18 years. He was also sentenced to a further 10 years of psychiatric supervision on his release.

Sean O’Rourke: “Tell me what happened?”

Niamh Cosgrave: “Like everybody else, my door was open. I have a French spaniel and I have a handle on my backdoor and he’s able to open that door himself. I’m very lazy. If I go to bed, I don’t want to be woken up to let him out. So I’d gone to sleep, I don’t think I was that much asleep because when I felt a tap on my shoulder, I woke up quite normally. It wasn’t a deep, deep sleep. I immediately assumed it was the dog so I didn’t panic. I turned around and then I felt a hand on my head. And my head was pushed down and all I could see were tracksuit bottoms and a pair of runners. So I automatically assumed that this was a child, maybe some child that was in trouble or maybe some child that had come in to rob me. But then he made some gestures that made me believe that yes, I was in serious trouble here. I went into auto mode. I didn’t believe this was happening and I thought, ‘right how can I get away from this, how can I stop this?’ and I tried to talk him out of it. I asked him for a cigarette. The ironic thing is I’d been off cigarettes for three weeks. He gave me a cigarette, he rolled the cigarette for me but then I tried to delay the cigarette as long as I could. But then I knew I was in trouble when he held out his hand and he said, ‘put that cigarette into my hand’. And I thought, ‘I’ll burn him if I do that.’ And then I noticed the cigarette was out and he put it into his pocket. I then realised, this guy is covering his DNA and that he knows what he’s doing, he’s done it before, I really need to make an effort to escape here, I’m not going to talk him out of it. So I asked if I could go to the toilet and he said, yes. And he walked ahead of me and we got into the corridor, I knew that that kitchen door was open and I thought if I go back down into that bedroom, I mightn’t come out of it. And I went to run. And he turned around and broke my jaw.”

Sean O’Rourke: “He what? He struck you?”

Cosgrave: “He literally swung around and with the impact of his fist on my jaw, he broke it. And I knew it was broken because I could actually feel the click. And the pain was absolutely horrific. I’ve given birth to four children and I’ve never experienced pain like that before in my life. He then… I still tried to run away but he grabbed my by my hair, threw me to the ground and I was fighting, fighting, fighting because I knew if I had gone down that corridor, I wasn’t going to come back out of it alive. He eventually got me into the bedroom and, yes, he raped me and he raped me repeatedly. At one stage I tried to lean over because the photograph of my children was on the bedside locker, to turn the photograph down. I know it sounds strange but I felt they were in the room with me and they were looking. I felt their presence in the room and I felt humiliated and I felt disgusted. I tried to turn that photograph down and he said, ‘don’t bother, you’ll never see them again.’ Eventually, it was strange… people think of rape as being a sexual act but the amount of violence was horrific. In fact it got so bad that I no longer felt any pain and I divided in two. It was like I was looking at a horror film and I think, in some way, that saved my life because rape isn’t about sex, it is violence and he was particularly violent. I don’t know what was going on in his head but he was playing out some sort of sick fantasy. The only thing I could do was pretend to be dead. And I don’t know where I got the willpower to just lie there. But, as I divided in two, I don’t know what happened. I just stopped feeling pain and, eventually, when he’d finished, he’d said something strange like, ‘I’m going to Paris’. At that stage, I was convinced, he’s gone to find a knife. He can’t have done all this to me and leave me alive. And I lay there for I don’t know how long.”

O’Rourke: “Yeah and in addition to saying you acted as though you were dead, were you fearful that you were actually going to die?”

Cosgrave: “I knew I was going to die, I knew I was going to die. That’s exactly how I felt. What he was doing to me was so bad, I honestly did not think that he could leave that house without killing me.”

O’Rourke: “Did he, apart from saying things to you about, you know, you’re not going to escape or whatever, he said something as well, I think when you were trying to get the picture, to turn it down, did he say very much?”

Cosgrave: “No. In fact, the first question I asked him was, ‘why me?’ He said, ‘I think you’re a beautiful woman’ and I said to him, ‘well, this isn’t how you meet women’. And he didn’t answer that. The one thing I did notice was, in France and the French language, you have the ‘vous’ and the ‘tu’. ‘Vous’ is for when you’re being very formal with people but he was using the ‘tu’. And even though I couldn’t see him, didn’t recognise him, I got the impression he had seen me and felt familiar enough to [use] ‘tu’. He didn’t say much but he did answer my questions.”

O’Rourke: “How long did this ordeal go on for, Niamh?”

Cosgrave: “I went to bed at about I’d say quarter to 11, 11 o’clock, I’d organised a dinner party the next evening and the Gendarmerie report states that I rang the Gendarmes at about 2am so I, I would say he probably left the house, 10, 15 minutes maybe, it lasted I’d say about two and a half hours.”

O’Rourke: “He said he was going to Paris or something like that, something to that effect.”

Cosgrave: “Something strange, something weird, it came out of nowhere.”

O’Rourke: “And did he tell you not to do anything, not to, to stay in the room or…”

Cosgrave: “He said, ‘you stay there and don’t move’ and he left. But because he was wearing runners I couldn’t hear a door opening or closing, I couldn’t, I didn’t know where he was, I didn’t know whether he was still in the house or what. But, I lay there for a while and then I got this adrenalin rush, I can’t describe it. It was like, “I’m not going lie here and wait for this”. So I crawled out, I could barely move, the injuries were that bad but I crawled out to the kitchen. I did have a camera. And, I was tempted to switch it on the front drive but I was afraid if the light came on and he saw it, and he had left the house, that he’d come back. So I grabbed the phone and went running back down into my bedroom and when I rang the Gendarmes, I didn’t get through immediately, all I could hear was the music, asking me to wait and I remember hiding the mobile phone, in case he was in the house and realised I’d called the Gendarmes. And I thought, well, if he’s gone, at least it’s over. But, unfortunately, Sean it wasn’t over. Because the police arrive, the Gendarmes, they arrive with dogs, your house is no longer your own, your body is no longer your own, you’re covered in plastic, your bedroom is taped off, it’s like you’re still a bit of meat, you’re still a bit of property.”

O’Rourke: “Presumably, you got serious medical attention very quickly?”

Cosgrave: “Absolutely, in fact, the Gendarmes, they were in the house, I’d say a few minutes, very basic questions and they said, ‘we’re calling an ambulance’. And, like and idiot, I was like, ‘well why, why?’ I said, ‘I need to get dressed, I need to have a wash’ and they said, ‘no, you can’t, you can’t, you’ll have to go the way you are now’. So the ambulance arrived but from the minute I arrived at that hospital and I saw that wonderful Gendarme, dressed from head to toe in uniform and he just said, ‘yes, we’re going to do some examinations and we are going to catch that man’ and I felt safe and I felt secure.”

O’Rourke: “How long did it take for him to be caught?”

Cosgrave: “In fact he was caught the next day. After the operation, they asked me to do a photo profile on a computer. I said, ‘really, there’s no point’. And they said, ‘try it, try it, just you’d be amazed at what you’ll remember’. So it started by describing his hair and his face and before I knew where I was, we had his description and I said, ‘yes, that’s him’ and they immediately sent that the Gendarms in Chef-Boutonne who recognised him. The unfortunate thing is it took three weeks because, all, I discovered afterwards, although they knew who this was and because it was serious, they wanted to make sure that all the DNA matched up because when they did the tests, obviously, they did them three times – once for the Gendarmes, once for an independent body and once for me. And they wanted to make sure that every bit of that added up. He was also on the Sex Offenders’ List because he’d done this before.”


O’Rourke: “Could you have chosen, in the court process, over there, to have remained anonymous and not to be identified?”

Cosgrave: “In France, you can ask for what they call is a closed court. However, my solicitor had said to me, given the gravity of the situation, there was a very real risk that the judge might go for a partial [closed court]. But, as he said to me, you know, everybody knows and it will be in the papers, even with the [closed court], ‘victim Irlandes’. I’m the only Irish woman in that town, my anonymity, my ability to remain anonymous was gone anyway.”

O’Rourke: “But you had a particular reason for speaking out didn’t you?”

Cosgrave: “Well, absolutely because this feeling of having reported him, I felt, until that case came up, I felt like a dirty little secret. I felt that rape was a dirty little secret and that’s what an awful lot of victims, I think, feel. They feel humiliated and they live in fear and they live in secrecy and their lives are destroyed. One of the things I wanted to get across is that, ‘yes, you can report these things, yes you will get the help you need. And yes you can do some good’ and it’s been amazing for me since. It’s been absolutely. I can’t, it’s my birthday when I think..”

O’Rourke: “What do you think lies ahead for you then, for the rest of your life, now that you, I won’t say that you’ve put it behind you but at least you’ve seen that..”

Cosgrave: “My counsellor said I will never forget it but I will learn to live with it and when I saw him in handcuffs I realised, ‘yes I can learn to live with it’.”

O’Rourke: “Needless to say we’ve had an avalanche of texts and messages of support, ‘beyond brave, what a woman’, ‘hope she has all he peace and…pardon me…it’s just, I think it’s so moving to listen to you, Niamh.”

Cosgrave: “I want to thank those people for saying that, too. That means a lot to me.”

Listen back in full here

Related and pic via: I Faced Down My Attacker I felt I had Power Again (Maeve Sheehan, Sunday Independent, February 22)

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 77 88 88



DecR writes:

I really hope you can highlight this document on Broadsheet. It was found today in Fresh supermarket in Grand Canal Dock {Dublin]  and is about restriction on staff use of their own languages – even among themselves.

It starts quite sympathetically – but then gets sharper and sharper towards the end. I think it deserves wide attention so that the many people of foreign descent who spend freely in Fresh every day can make an informed decision about where they take their business.

I have used Fresh in Grand Canal Dock every day since it first opened. There are Polish, Brazilians, Romanians, Chinese, Hungarians and more – several of whom I have gotten to know over the years.

Only last Thursday, during lunchtime I was asked by someone doing an in-store survey for Fresh what the best thing about the shop was – my answer “the staff”. Language has  never been an issue to anyone I have ever seen over all those years (Perhaps FRESH can prove different).

Sure – there may be some disaffected misanthropes who complain over such things. But it is incumbent on a responsible business like Fresh to filter feedback the “crazies”.

Particularly galling in this document is the lip-service to valuing “multiple cultures”. Multiple cultures – fine. So long as it fits our in-store mono-culture. I’d love to know if other customer facing businesses have a similar ethos?