Anthony McIntyre attended a rally in Drogheda yesterday afternoon. 

There was a large turnout in Drogheda yesterday as inhabitants of the town took to the streets in support of ongoing efforts to disrupt and usurp the regime of fear local crime gangs seek to impose. An estimated five thousand marched through the town before assembling in West Street to listen to a number of speakers.

Although the drug dealers have been wreaking havoc on community harmony for a number of years, arson and murder being the tactics of choice, it was the savage slaying and dismemberment of 17 year old Keane Mulready-Woods a fortnight ago that brought matters to a head and stirred people into lancing the boil. The tender years of Mulready-Woods coupled with the savagery of his death, has horrified the town in a way that killing of older gang members rarely does. A friend rang to express the view that it was more Mexico than Ireland, echoing the sentiments of Mayor Paul Bell who described the killing of the teenager as "inhumane and demonic."

While there were proclamations of support at yesterday's rally from the speakers for An Garda Siochana they did come with a health warning: the Garda is seriously under-resourced and under-staffed for the task at hand. Not everybody is convinced that it is fit for purpose, although nobody is blaming the local guards on this. It is considered the inevitable outcome of austerity and government cutbacks implemented by the free marketeers of Fine Gael over the past decade, ably assisted for much of that by its obedient shill, the Labour Party.

The political parties were well represented, with the Taoiseach and leader of the opposition pushing to the front. Talking to a republican in the crowd, it was his view that the two main leaders had to turn up in case they, in their absence, were outmanoeuvred by the other. Not good tactics to stay away in an election campaign which has been infused with concerns about law and order.

The sound system packed in shortly into proceedings. The thought struck me that it symbolised the shoddiness of services on offer to the citizens of the town. Limited funding for the community groups and the state institutions whose task it is to halt the town's freefall into the abyss. Now we would not even be able to hear the range of woes.

I walked away rather than stand in a crowded street where nothing other than the grumbling of the people nearest to me could be heard. When I returned 10 minutes later proceedings had resumed but the crowd had decreased in size.

The notion raised by Mayor Paul Bell, which got much applause and a hum of approval from the crowd, that those who take drugs render themselves complicit with the drugs gangs, is fanciful. According to the mayor there is no such things as recreational drugs and people should be arrested for personal use possession. It is a bizarre recommendation, not one that bodes well for the future, failing to identify the source of the problem with a concomitant evasion of what needs done to tackle it. Use of drugs is as recreational as the use of alcohol. There is a demand for drugs which is being met by the gangs. Internationally, wars on drug are placatory not panacean. Their failure has fuelled numerous calls for drugs to be decriminalised. Drug use is a problem and it would be foolish to argue that drugs, like alcohol, do not ruin lives. However, usage is much less a problem than the drug gangs who currently provide the supply. A change of mindset to the problem of drug use, with an emphasis on a regime of health rather than a regime of fear, might be a long way off but then too is a cure.

As the crowd ebbed away, I sensed that the interest of the politicians not rooted in Drogheda would ebb just as quickly. Before leaving, no more sanguine than I had arrived, I shook hands with Senator Ged Nash and got hugged by a friend in Sinn Fein. On our feet, standing together with hands across the political divide, I feared the symbolism would not be matched by a solution.

Standing Together

From Church And State the story of a Alan Turing.

By Craig A. James

What do you do to a homosexual mathematician whose code-breaking genius saved the world during World War II? Not figuratively, but actually saved the world from Nazi domination? You put him on trial, of course! You convict him of gross indecency. You force him to choose prison or chemical castration. You strip him of all dignity and hound him until in shame and despair he swallows a cyanide pill and dies.

The story of Alan Turing is one of the most disgraceful episodes of modern civilization. A man who should have been a hero of the free world and idolized next to Einstein and Newton in the history books was instead hounded to death because of religion-inspired homophobia.

In World War II, Alan Turing’s genius at breaking Nazi secret codes was so successful that the Allies could have sunk almost every single U-boat and convoy that left Germany. Turing’s work was so good it was like cheating at cards: if you win every hand, the other players will quickly figure out that the game is rigged. The Allies had to employ all sorts of tricks to hide their success; if you want a fascinating account, I highly recommend Neal Stephenson’s semi-fictional Cryptonomicon, the story of the rise of modern cryptography.

Continue Reading @ Church And State.

Alan Turing ➧ Gay Man Who Saved The World Yet Died In Disgrace

A Morning Thought 601

Matt Treacy assess the political odyssey of former Provisional IRA chief of staff Gerry Adams.  

By Matt Treacy
Gerry Adams’ announcement that he is retiring from politics brings to an end one of the most significant public lives of the past century. 

Photo Credit: Domer48
He is without doubt a major historical figure whose influence on events in Ireland was hugely significant.

I cannot claim to have known him well. I did know him but I was not at the level where my political acumen was of much interest to him. Most of the conversations I had with him were brief ones about hurling. He used to read my GAA column at the back of An Phoblacht and when he met my daughter in the Leinster House restaurant he remembered me mentioning her in a piece I had written about the Dublin junior camogie team that won the All Ireland in 2003. That is why people like him, sometimes more than that.

I was at meetings where grown men were clearly verging on fear of him, which says more about them than Adams I suspect. I have met few people who have that kind of presence and he was the most impressive. The meetings only tangentially involved me so I did not have to deliver any sort of result, as it were. So I could observe the courtiers. Those who did were not comfortable. It was clearly his influence which produced any end result in political gains for what were once, the Provies.

Before one meeting began he was humming a song and asked me did I know what it was. Fagamuid suid mar a tá said. The Limerick Rake. My estimation had possibly increased when I knew that but I declined the invite to sing.

He is a clever chap and one with an eclectic but broad appreciation of many things. And a weird sense of humour.

Now for the bad parts. I suspect like other people of his acumen with ambition that he surrounded himself with flawed people. Some of those closest to him like Brendan Hughes the Officer Commanding the H Blocks during the first hunger strike who once professed to have loved him in the way that men do their comrades who have seen the best and worst of them, believed similar.

The fact that so many of that inner circle have been exposed as British paid informers and rapists and god knows what else, suggests either a serious misjudgement of character or a willingness to use such people for ulterior ends. I don’t know. I was never at a level where I had to make such decisions, but I suspect the latter. Sometimes it is good not to be embraced by power. Probably it is always best not to be embraced by power. Lord Acton, to quote the much abused and overused dictum, was indeed correct.

There is also the manner in which he has denied his past. Some regard that as part of his own personal reinvention. I have no idea, but for many republicans and especially for many of his own peer group his denial of having been a member of the IRA is regarded as a denigration of their own history.

Is it something to be ashamed of? As with all the other participants in the conflict the IRA did do shameful things. Does that mean that all of those who were members are tainted with some eradicable historical guilt? That we should all bow our heads in shame for eternity and deny our past as do Adams and Gerry Kelly and others?

While Adams’ denial of membership made sense when it was an indictable offence, that no longer applies. The IRA was stood down and disarmed and disavowed its historical objective under Adams’ watch. He was at one time Chief of Staff and always after that remained the main power no matter who held that position and he was at all the IRA conventions that made the crucial decisions regarding the ceasefires. They were not the sort of events that people just wandered in to.

Be all that as it may. The decision to call off the IRA campaign was correct. And there is no excuse for attempting to have another one. What happened after the ceasefires is more questionable. There was no reason that republicans should have embraced Stormont and effectively agreed to administer the British controlled part of Ireland for the British. There is a democratic alternative to that without accepting their rules.

That the party claiming the historical title of Sinn Féin and all that entails should have become part of the docile acceptance of the surrender of sovereignty to the EU is also of note. That was never put for debate before the members and never voted upon.

There is also the fact that Sinn Féin has wholeheartedly embraced a political agenda which has included the introduction of abortion by default in the north. I remember when Adams and McGuinness were infuriated over the decision by the Ard Fheis in 1985 to support abortion and ensured that this was overturned the following year. I also know current Sinn Féin TDs who promised emotionally that they would never support abortion on demand. Then I saw them arguing for this in front of television audiences.

Adams like the rest of them voted for the government legislation and in some cases for the most extreme amendments proposed by the ultra left, and against proposals by Peadar Tóibín and others that sought to ameliorate the legislation.

So. If I was ever to get to meet Gerry Adams again there are lots of things I would like to discuss with him. As I said in regard to my own personal interactions, I liked him and that is how I judge any person. History and such shall be his judge on other matters and none of us know what that will be.

Matt Treacy is a writer and a former republican prisoner.

Gerry Adams And The Embrace Of Power

From The Belfast Telegraph: Man who claims he was abused by priest when he was 13 says diocese has dragged its feet over his complaint

By Donna Deeney

'Victim' left deeply hurt over parish collection for alleged abuser and failure to interview him despite investigation.

A man who claims he was abused by a Catholic priest when he was 13 has hit out at how the church handled the complaint. 

Denis Cairns

Denis Cairns said he was left deeply hurt after learning that his alleged abuser's parish collected money for the priest last Christmas, seven months after he was stood down from his duties while the church investigated the allegation.

Mr Cairns, who lives in Londonderry, alleges he was abused in 1992 by a priest visiting from a parish in the Nottingham Diocese.

He said the collection, along with a weekly request in the priest's parish newsletter asking parishioners to pray for his alleged abuser, who is now ill, were deeply hurtful.

He is also critical of how the diocese's Bishop, Patrick McKinney, handled the case.

Mr Cairns (40), who is married with two children, first reported his alleged abuse to police in Derry in 1997 when he was 18. He had seen the same priest at a function in the city with a young boy and was concerned for the child's welfare.

After investigation, a decision not to prosecute was taken due to a lack of evidence - it was Mr Cairns' word against that of his alleged abuser.

It wasn't until 2014 that Mr Cairns contacted the Diocese of Derry and disclosed what happened to him.

He was contacted by the diocese's safeguarding officer, who informed her counterpart in Nottingham.

At this time the Derry Diocese became aware that, in 2002, Nottingham Diocese carried out an investigation into the allegations made by Mr Cairns and "supervised" and "monitored" the priest for a two-year period.

Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin

The priest had been interviewed by the RUC at his parish in Nottingham in 1997. They also spoke to the Bishop at the time. This is when the diocese first became aware of the allegation.

The diocese investigated in 2002 in response to the publication of the landmark Nolan report in 2001. The priest was not stood down from his duties at this time. The diocese did not contact Mr Cairns as part of this investigation. Files held by the Derry Diocese and Nottingham Diocese about Mr Cairns' allegation were released to him at his request.

The Belfast Telegraph has a copy of these files and other correspondences including details of a meeting between Mr Cairns and the Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin.

Among these is a letter dated April 2019 from Bishop McKinney, which was read out at all masses in the parish where the priest served, informing them of the allegations.

The priest was already absent from his parish at the time because he had returned to his home in Northern Ireland - where he is now residing - for chemotherapy after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

In his statement, Bishop McKinney wrote: 

Your parish priest has been absent from the parish for a long time due to his illness and we continue to pray for his recovery.

However, he is unable at present to act as your parish priest for another reason. An allegation has been recently made against him of historic sex abuse.

Due to the serious nature of the allegation, I have issued a decree which suspends him from all public ministry until an investigation can be done.

It may seem cruel to begin this proceeding against someone who is seriously ill, but the Church must and does take allegations of this nature very seriously.

Mr Cairns said the words used by Bishop McKinney showed little concern for the toll on his health, particularly his mental health, which left him suicidal many times.

Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Cairns said: 

I have lived with this on my mind 24 hours a day, seven days a week since I was 13 and I am now 40. The pain, anger, hurt, frustration and flashbacks never go away and at times I couldn't bear it and attempted to take my own life. I did that eight times, most recently last year. "In his statement, the Bishop of Nottingham implied that investigating the priest at a time when he was not in good health was cruel but there was no compassion or understanding for the effect on my health - the effect on my mental health has and continues to be enormous, but that doesn't seem to count. This has been a long and traumatic journey for me, but last year I thought I was finally going to see a way in which I could get on with my life when the Bishop of Nottingham came to Derry to speak with me at the request of the Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown. We met in Bishop Donal's house and, after listening to my story, he told me he would begin a canonical investigation process. Part of that process meant my abuser was not allowed to carry out duties as parish priest nor contact parishioners in that capacity, but I discovered just last week that parishioners had been given an update on his health and that a collection taken up in his parish (at Christmas 2019) had been passed to him. This caused me unimaginable anguish. I was distraught beyond belief because it comes after I repeatedly asked that a weekly notice in this priest parish newsletter which asks people to pray for him is stopped, but my request has repeatedly been ignored.

Mr Cairns said he hoped the canonical investigation will, at its conclusion, allow him to move on with his life, which he says has been dominated by the impact of his alleged abuse.

He continued: 

What happened to me when I was 13 has had a devastating effect on my life since. My abuser told me not to tell anyone what happened because I wouldn't be believed and I saw that he was right about that - who would take the word of a 13 year-old boy against that of a priest? I told no one until the day (in 1997) I saw this same priest at a function in Derry with a young boy and my blood ran cold because I feared he was doing to this boy what he did to me. I confronted the priest and he told me the boy was a 'friend' from his parish in England and that his parents had allowed him to bring the boy to Derry. The next day, I went to the police in Derry and reported what had happened to me, but that came to nothing because it was basically my word against his. It wasn't until 2014 that I contacted the Derry Diocese and told them I had been abused. The safeguarding officer contacted me then and she also contacted Nottingham but I didn't know this until I had my files released. I disclosed my abuse to a priest in Derry again in 2018 and, again, the safeguarding person got in contact with me only this time it was a different person, Noel O'Donnell. He listened to me and arranged for me to meet Bishop McKeown, who also listened to me and told me they believed me. This was all I wanted - to be believed. The Derry Diocese and Bishop Donal have been very good to me and have supported me when I needed it. Bishop Donal even suggested it would be good for me to meet Archbishop Martin before he went off to the Vatican seminar on clerical abuse which I was delighted to do.

Entries in the Derry Diocese files made by Mr O'Donnell echo Mr Cairns' sentiments.

One dated January 30, 2019 reads: One of the most important outcomes of the meeting was that Archbishop Martin clearly told Denis that he believed him." Another dated February 18 reads: "Denis does take comfort from the fact that he is believed by Archbishop Martin, Bishop McKeown and me (Mr O'Donnell)."

Bishop McKeown also organised and facilitated a meeting between Mr Cairns and the Bishop of Nottingham in March 2019 which took place in his home but for which he was not present.

Mr Cairns continued: 

After the meeting with Bishop McKinney, it was agreed they would provide a care plan for me which included providing support and giving me regular updates on how the investigation is progressing. Very early on in the investigation, two canon lawyers came to Derry and interviewed me - that was almost a year ago. But despite me asking Nottingham Diocese if my abuser had been interviewed, I am still in the dark. It seems to me Nottingham diocese is dragging its heels on the investigation because this priest is so ill and they are waiting on him to die so he can go to his grave with his reputation intact.

A spokesman for Nottingham Diocese confirmed the priest at the centre of Mr Cairn's allegation has not yet been interviewed by canon lawyers - almost a year after the process began.

The Belfast Telegraph has also learned that the boy Mr Cairns saw the priest with in Derry in 1997 has been identified.

The Nottingham Diocese does not know if he has been contacted by the safeguarding team, police or social services.

The spokesman said: 

The priest is seriously ill and many of his parishioners would find it cruel that disciplinary proceedings had been begun against him while he was being treated for various cancers; nevertheless, the Bishop's concern that justice be done and be seen to be done meant that he began those proceedings which are ongoing.

The priest cannot function as a priest pending the outcome of those proceedings. We understand that seeing prayers for (the priest) would cause hurt to Mr Cairns; however, this was obviously never the intention. The editor of the parish bulletin is no longer fulfilling that role.

The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, was contacted prior to publication. He declined to comment.

Diocese Foot Dragging In Abuse Scandal

A Morning Thought @ 600

John Paul Wootton questions the usefulness of prisons.

My impression is that when a lot of people think of justice, they think that if people do something wrong, they should be punished and imprisonment is a natural outthinking of this.

But is it that simple?

A serious lack of understanding on the part of the general public about how justice is dispensed and the realities of prison. If people were actually involved in administering justice themselves, within their own communities, I believe a very different and much more humane system would emerge.

The chances are, many people will know someone who has been to prison. If this applies to you, then you’ll know how difficult it was for that person and the damage it can do, and probably has done already to someone you care about.

Had you been given the opportunity to free your loved one immediately, I’m sure very few would choose to keep them locked away. The question is this – if you could free your brother your partner or your daughter, why would you not free someone else’s?

You might say “Oh, but we have to prevent crime” or “society wouldn’t be safe if we just let everyone go…” And whilst I understand that thinking, we need to ask ourselves, honestly, if imprisonment is actually preventing crime or making society safer because the evidence would suggest that it isn’t.

Criminological study has garnered much evidence on the different factors contributing to the presence of crime in our society. These tend to be socio-economic and include poverty levels, low educational attainment and poor career prospects to name but a few.

Issues with mental health and drug addiction are also hugely important.

The key point to be made is that, not only can all these factors be addressed outside of prison, in the community, but many solutions are actually impeded by imprisonment and some issues are even intensified by its harmful effects.

The approach to formal education offers an example. If the education system outside the prison has failed people already a much more inadequate system within the prison doesn’t stand much of a chance. In prison, people are offered a narrow choice of courses (with large waiting lists) that are uninteresting to most and are available only at levels too low to, on their own, improve people’s opportunities. Also studying in a prison environment is, in itself, a challenge many are unable to overcome.

Instead of wasting so much of our society’s resources on propping up a system of ‘justice’ and imprisonment that has clearly not been successful in improving the situation, we should focus our efforts on addressing those factors that contribute to crime by, for example, improving our education system. Doing this successfully would soon allow us to reduce the harm done in society both to the victims of crime and to those who find themselves imprisoned due to factors outside their immediate control.

➽John Paul Wootton is imprisoned in Maghaberry.

Questioning Imprisonment

Christopher Owens reviews a book written half a century ago and highly recommends it. 

Pulp fiction gets a bad rap.

Authors churning out fiction for money conjures up images of the likes of Dan Brown, E.L James. Anathema to most "serious" readers (whatever that term may mean).

But the best ones are not only enthralling, but they have a subversive angle (be it narration, plot device, dialogue, outlook) that remains with the reader long after completing the book.

And one such book is Pop.1280.

Told through first person, Pop.1280 is the story of Nick Corey. Sheriff of Pottsville, Potts County (population of 1280), he is a somewhat buffoonish hick type who everyone else uses as a lamppost to piss on. Or, at least, that's how he allows himself to be portrayed.

Running for re-election, battling disrespectful pimps and juggling three women at once, Nick's world is speeding out of control. Just as well he's a cunning, Machiavellian type who lures people into a false sense of security before he has his way with them.

First published in 1964, Pop.1280 is a classic, enthralling depiction of what Hannah Arendt described as the mundanely of evil, as well as a thrilling depiction of a life dangling precariously close to the edge. Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, Nick is an utterly engaging, somewhat philosophical and completely unreliable narrator, with all of these qualities being underpinned by Thompson's terse, direct writing.

Take this segment as an example, where Nick is talking to Uncle Jim, a put upon resident of the town due to racism and his mental abilities (reminiscent of Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men):

"I'll tell you something else...and it makes a shit-potful more sense than most of the goddamn scripture I've read. Better the blind man...who pisses through a window than the prankster who leads him thereto. You know who the prankster is...Why, it's goddamn near everybody...Yeah, you can't help bein' what you are, jus' a pore ol' black man. That's what you say...and do you know what I say? I say screw you. I say you can't help being what you are, and I can't help being what I am, and you goddamn well know what I am and have to be. You goddamn well know you've got no friends among the whites. You goddamn well ought to know that you're not going to have any because you stink...and you go around begging to get screwed and how the hell can anyone have a friend like that?"

To conclude this apocalyptic rant, Thompson then gives the reader two lines.

"I gave him both barrels of the shotgun. It danged near cut him in two."

Chilling, I'm sure you'll agree.

That's also striking is how Thompson uses the small scale nature of the town (consider the title) and it's isolation to examine the supposed veneer of respectability that comes apart once passions are raised.

Be it Uncle Jim being racially abused, rumours being spread in church about Nick's political opponent and a brothel being tolerated because it keeps domestic violence down, Pottsville has an ugly undertone to it and Nick knows this all too well. Hence why he gets away with (literal) murder.

Simply put, this is highly, highly recommended.

Read it as pulp fiction, read it as literature, but read it.

Jim Thompson, 1964  Pop.1280 Mulholland Books. ISBN-13: 978-0316403788.

Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland.


Maryam Namazie and Afsana Lachaux were joint winners of the 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize for their campaigning work in support of women under Sharia laws. 

The award recognised the links with Sharia and religious laws and violence against women.

Afsana Lachaux
has spent the past five years campaigning for women’s access to justice. After having to flee Dubai, and whilst continuing to fight for the return of her son, Afsana has successfully campaigned for the FCO to include warnings to women about the potential impact of sharia law in travel guidance, as well as fighting an important defamation case brought against her by her ex-husband.

Maryam Namazie
was the first public female atheist from a Muslim background in the UK. Maryam began campaigning over a decade ago and has always focused on the issues of women from Muslim backgrounds. Her work challenges both sex inequality within Islam as well as the additional difficulties that women face after leaving Islam.

Emma Humphreys was a writer, campaigner and survivor of male violence who fought an historic struggle to overturn a murder conviction in 1995, supported by Justice for Women and other feminist campaigners. The annual prize is awarded to an individual woman who has, through writing or campaigning, raised awareness of violence against women and children.

Lilly Lewis, Magdalen Berns and Meena Patel
of Southall Black Sisters also received awards and recognition for their important work.

Lilly Lewis is a survivor and campaigner who has done her campaigning work over the last three years despite being incarcerated. After being sentenced to seven year’s imprisonment in 2016 she began to work with APPEAL’s Women’s Justice Initiative to use her story to campaign about the treatment of abused women by the criminal justice system. A peer mentor in custody, and a mentor for at risk young people when on day release, she intends to continue her campaigning after her release in December 2019.

Magdalen Berns was a campaigner for lesbian and other women’s rights. She produced YouTube videos in defence of women’s private spaces and sex specific rights. She had a wide reach in introducing new women to radical feminism and faced down a lot of hostility for publicising her views. Magdalen died in September 2019, aged 36.

Meena Patel joined Southall Black Sisters in 1987. Since then she has spearheaded SBS’ campaigns to raise awareness of the violence experienced by Black and ethnic minority women. She also runs SBS’ survivor involvement work, and helps other women to politicise their experiences: many of these women have gone on to campaign with SBS. Meena was a key player in the campaign to free Kiranjit Ahluwalia. She also led an impromptu demonstration of SBS service users against the Home Office’s racist ‘Go Home’ vans in 2013, giving strength to service users and illustrating to other services the value of publicly opposing injustice.

Maryam Namazie is a political activist and write.  She is also spokesperson for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain.

Follow Maryam Namazie on Twitter @MaryamNamazie

Maryam Namazie and Afsana Lachaux, Joint Winners Of 2019 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize

From The Guardian a piece calling out political correctness.

By Kenan Malik
When a professor loses his job for mockery, and a film is attacked for political correctness, both sides should take notice.

‘In retaliation, Ayatollah Khomeini should tweet a list of 52 sites of beloved American cultural heritage that he would bomb.”

So wrote Asheen Phansey, an adjunct professor at Babson College in Massachusetts. He added that cultural sites to target might include the Mall of America and the “Kardashian residence”. Not the funniest of jokes (and not helped by the fact that Khomeini died more than 30 years ago) but definitely a joke and a response to Trump’s tweet that America would target 52 Iranian sites, including those of cultural significance, if Tehran did retaliate for the assassination of General Qassem Suleimani.

It led to an inevitable outpouring of outrage on Twitter from conservative snowflakes. By the end of the day, Phansey was no longer teaching at Babson … 

Much is made today of liberals demanding action against those using offensive language or making politically incorrect jokes. The Babson case shows conservatives are equally easily offended … 

The Babson case also shows the dangers of the left demanding censorship of offensive speech. It’s not just speech the left thinks is politically incorrect that will get censored.

Continue reading @ The Guardian.

Left And Right Should Learn To Take A Joke, Not Censor Them

A Morning Thought @ 599

Sarah Kay answers 13 questions in a Booker's Dozen.

TPQ: What are you currently reading?

SK: I'm currently reading Les Travaux, the 8-volume work on the drafting of the ECHR, for a huge paper I'm writing. I hope to soon have some time to read Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, gifted to me by my friend and brilliant barrister Brenda.

TPQ: Best book you have ever read?

SK: The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie. It's one of my favorite books of all time.

TPQ: A must-read before you die?

SK: I majored in classics in high school, so I think I did all the reading I needed to do, but maybe the must read before I die hasn't been written yet. I welcome suggestions.

TPQ: A preference for fact or fiction?

SK: I can't choose! I very rarely - and I mean it's happened once or twice during the last decade - fact because I want to keep reading about what I do and want to get better at it, but sometimes fiction provides the best escape.

TPQ: Favourite female author?

SK: I don't know if there is an author, male or female, whose books I would automatically buy if I knew they had one coming out. Marguerite Duras, probably.

TPQ: Favourite male author?

SK: I already cited Salman Rushdie, so I'm going to go with Philip K. Dick.

A Berlin Book Tower in memory of the Nazi book burning.

TPQ: First book you ever read?

SK: I literally don't have any idea. I remember I used to steal my older siblings' books, which was fine, because they didn't know I could read yet, so I could pretend it had nothing to do with me. But I don't remember. I might have also grabbed a book from my parents' library.

Favourite childhood author?

I was never into "child books", very early on. I would read a book if I wanted to read it. No one ever told me it was inappropriate or that I wouldn't understand. I have a lot of affection for The Giver by Lois Lowry, and for the values it holds.

TPQ: Any book you point blank refuse to read?

SK: Trump's books are a no-no.

TPQ: Any author you point blank refuse to read?

SK: Oh I also don't care about Sean Spicer's book. I heard John Yoo has one out as well? That's a shame.

TPQ: Pick a book to give to somebody so that they would more fully understand you.

SK: Circe by Madeline Miller. It was - again - gifted to me by a dear friend who understood that it would really help if I read something that wasn't law-related for once, and I was probably the last person on earth to read it since everyone around me was giving me rave reviews. Well, it didn't disappoint. I'm definitely a daughter of Circe.

TPQ: Last book you gave as a present?

I Am The Border, So I Am by @BorderIrish. I'm using it as stocking fillers this Christmas. Everyone needs to know. I think I also sent someone Ubik by Philip K. Dick.

Book you would most like to see turned into a movie?

SK: I'd rather they weren't. I think The Haunting of Hill House series was a masterpiece and really did the book justice. I'm also into The Man In The High Castle series, but they took liberties, so at first I was a little peeved. I don't know. I like books because they allow my imagination to form what it is and what it looks like; I don't want a vision to be imposed on me necessarily.

Sarah Kay is a human rights lawyer.

Booker’s Dozen @ Sarah Kay