Today with Sean O'Rourke

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    Today With Sean O Rourke Thursday 6 February 2014

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    Today with Sean O'Rourke

    The mid-morning current affairs magazine with the stories of the day, sharp analysis, sports coverage, in-depth features and consumer interest.

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    Vatican

    The UN has given the Vatican an unprecedented dressing down over its handling of clerical child sex abuse. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said the church “ had failed to acknowledge the extent of the crimes committed” and demanded it immediately turn over known or suspected offenders to face justice.

    It came on a day when the Pope met Philomena Lee in Rome yesterday – the central charcter of the Oscar nominated movie Philomena – whose fight to help reunited to thousands of mothers and children has gained international publicity.

    Joining me now is Dr. Katherine O'Donnell is director of the UCD Women's Studies Centre in the School of Social Justice and Justice for Magedeline Research.

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    Prisons

    With the country’s prisons filled to capacity, the issue of penal reform and the possibility of alternative punishments that would keep young people and women in particular out of the prison system is a matter of political and social urgency.

    For six years Liam Herrick was head of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, visiting prisons and building a relationship with the Prison Service to try and address the problems in Irish jails.

    He is now moving on to take up a new position as Adviser to President Michael D Higgins, but he joined Sean to reflect on the major issues affecting the Irish prison system.

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    Afghan Police

    This week a group of Senior Police officers from Afghanistan arrived in Ireland on a study trip co-ordinated by the European Police Mission in Afghanistan.  Sean spoke with Eithne McDermott, who is Political advisor with the EU Mission and Valerie Cox met the group in Dublin.

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    Floods

    The rain has eased off for now but there’s more to come tomorrow. The return of stormy weather will increase the danger of flooding along the country’s main rivers, especially those in the south and south-west and particularly the Shannon.

    The Shannon has already burst its banks in some areas. It has already flooded much of the land farmed by Michael Silke between Lough Ree and Lough Derg in County Galway.

    Michael was on the line, and our Midlands correspondent Ciaran Mullooly was in our Athlone studio.

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    The Undertaking

    by Audrey Magee (Atlantic Books)

    Audrey Magee has worked as a journalist for 12 years yet two incidents, twenty years apart, were the catalyst for her to write her debut novel, The Undertaking. The first occurred on a visit to Dachau in Germany when she was just 21 and the second incident some 20 years later after a chance encounter with a German man in West Cork who owned a restaurant she was visiting.

    The story follows the lives of two Germans, Peter, a young German soldier during World War II and Katherina, who get married to secure him honeymoon leave from a horrific and raging battle and a widow’s pension for her should he be killed in action. The story follows their lives during and after the war and examines the impact which the Second World War had on ordinary Germans.

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    Inequality

    A recent Oxfam report estimated the wealth of the richest 85 people in the world to be the equivalent of that held by the poorest 3.5 billion.

    Inequality, it said, had been exacerbated by the financial crisis and subsequent recession.

    But how are the rich are getting richer and is inequality a natural phenomenon that can't be alleviated or a serious global problem that needs to be tackled?

    Sean was joined by Conor Brophy from our business staff.

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