by louis walsh

For those who may not have read my blog before let me give you some background. I’m a 68 year old pensioner living in a sheltered housing complex in Ringsend in Dublin. I have lived here for appx 6 years and literally from my first day here I have witnessed bullying and intimidation. Eventually after years of being bullied myself and watching others being intimidated and bullied I finally made an official complaint to Dublin City Council. To make a long story short they did nothing and it was obvious they had no intention of doing anything. There is nothing new in any of this. Just about every report and study ever issued demonstrates that if a victim finds the courage and strength to complain officially they will , A – be fobbed off …….and if this does not work , if the victim insists that something be done then , B – they will become the problem. Not only will the victim not get any help but they will be declared to be the problem.  The victim of bullying will  have become the bully and the bully will be declared the victim.  This phenomena  is well documented and is  indeed the principle  reason for victims not reporting bullying in the first place.

I made my official complaint to Dublin City Council about a year ago and as I have said nothing was done.  In Cambridge Court there is a day centre or common room and within this day centre is a kitchen. In spite of the fact that this kitchen is there for the tenants those same tenants have been locked out and prevented from using it while others , who do not live in Cambridge Court have the free run of the place. Week after week , month after month and year after year people who do not live in Cambridge Court have the full use of the kitchen. When these people are not using it it is locked. The reason for this state of affairs  is bullying -plain and simple. The bullies hold the keys and every time a non resident walks into the kitchen and makes a cup of tea while tenants are refused it sends out a not-so-scuttle message to all tenants as to who is really in charge. This behavior is intended to intimidate and does intimidate. All this may sound quite trivial but this type of thing is part of a pattern of intimidation and bullying that is a permanent and all pervasive reality of life in Cambridge Court.  Now , about a week ago I decide I had had enough of this and so I removed the lock from the kitchen door. The reaction from Dublin City Council was immediate . The police were called , the lock fixed and a letter rushed off to me. There was no hesitation. They was no prevarication…..action was taken…………………………………All of this in sickening contrast to the total indifference to intimidation and bullying which has blighted the life of many tenants for years. Not only was I accused of threatening people and damaging council property ( I removed 3 screws)  but I was also accused of threatening to kill people ….this being a reference to my anti bullying blog. Funnily  enough this was never an issue in the past ……I had been writing about the bullying in Cambridge Court for six years and saying more or less the same thing for all those years but it only became an issue when I removed the lock on the kitchen door. If I had not removed the lock I could have carried on with my blog writing whatever took my fancy for the next ten years  and no one would have given a damn. Of course if it was not my blog it would have been something else. Funnily enough when I took the decision to remove the lock the first thing that came into my head was that they would take exception to my blog but I took a deliberate decision not to delete any part of it as they would no doubt have found something else to use against me.

There is , as I have said , nothing new in any of this. About a year ago here in Ireland there was case where a woman had accused her partner of abusing her child. She went to the  appropriate authorities and was fobbed off  but refused to let the matter drop. In return she ended up being accused of abuse and her partner given custody of the child. In the official report it noted many more cases like this and made the point that if the victim was articulate and forceful then this was almost always the outcome. The institution will defend itself at any cost. And the institution can be quite vicious ….and a viscous and powerful institution will use all its considerable power to silence a victim. Its and old story……

So if you are a victim of institutional type bullying be warned:  First they will ignore you. Then (if you haven’t  got the message)  they will fob  you off in one manner or another and if you insist on pushing the issue they will then turn on you….THE VICTIM.  Officials who had neither the time or inclination to stop old vulnerable men and women  being intimidated and bullies will , in an instant , find the will , the inclination and all the required  resources to bully the VICTIM.    It is not an easy road to go down. You will be on your own. No one will help you and those who should will turn on you. It is happening every day of the week in institutions and old folks homes. You will be bullied and intimidated  by the very people who should be protecting you. It is a frightening and lonely experience. For decades in this country victims of abuse suffered this fate………and no doubt , many still are. Don’t expect a kind word or even a grain of human understanding.  Do not expect to be reassured…….you won’t be.  You will be on your own and at your most vulnerable and that’s not a nice place to be. You , the victim , will be presented as the villain.  There is a lot at stake in all of this and not just for you. The officials with responsible for the running of Cambridge Court will never admit that they have facilitated bullying of tenants . They will never acknowledge their guilt.

The very first person I spoke to when I moved into Cambridge Court was an old man. He was standing at his front door crying and his first words to me , the first words I ever heard in Cambridge Court were ,   ” They’re  bullying me , they won’t leave me alone , they are bullying me”. These , the very first words spoken to me in Cambridge Court. He was just an old vulnerable man and Dublin City Council did nothing to protect him. They were far to busy protecting the bullies….How many old people died before their time in Cambridge Court because the City Council just didn’t want to know ?  For myself , all I can say is that the trauma of living in Cambridge Court will follow me to my grave. My life , for all practical purposes is ruined. I carry the mental scars with me every minute of the day and will do so up to the moment of my death. Today it  is sheltered housing and old people’s homes , yesterday it was the Magdeline laundries and orphanages. But the people are the same. The indifference is the same. And more often than not the victims are the same.