It’s been a difficult week to come to terms with in Cork City, as within the space of three days we have seen both the highest of highs and the murkiest of lows that this poor city has to offer. I’m quite a big reader and I’ve read my fair share of footballers biographies, and if it’s taught me anything it’s that when we are presented with both positive and negative situations, or facts, our mind often finds itself dwelling on the negative aspects. This week has been no different.
Last week, as many of you will be well aware, Cork hosted the Liam Miller tribute game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Some of the best footballers of Manchester United’s history, as well as that of Celtic and the Irish national team, gathered in Cork to play a match in honour of their former teammate, Liam Miller, and to raise money for his grieving family. The moment people were made aware of the prospects of the match, the Cork people got right behind it. Tickets for the match were sold out within two hours of going on sale, and on the day itself the math was attended by over 42,000 people, despite it being held at 3 O’Clock on a Tuesday afternoon. There was a warm and friendly atmosphere across the stadium, as Cork came together to support one of their own in their time of need. Cork was a very special place to be that afternoon. The sun was shining, people were laughing, and the city was buzzing with excitement for the impending occasions. Unfortunately, that positivity was not set to last.
On the very same day as the Liam Miller tribute game, the Irish Examiner printed an article on its front page detailing the fact that since the start of the college academic year three weeks ago, three students have reported acts of sexual assault to the Cork Sexual Violence Centre. One a week. Of the three students who came forward with to the Sexual Violence Centre, two have already dropped out and gone home. One of the most startling facts however, was that in these three cases in particular, none of the victims felt that they could report the crimes to either the Gardaí or their parents. This was due to the fact that they felt too ashamed to tell their parents, as alcohol was involved, and not willing to tell the Gardaí because they thought they somehow were to blame. As soon as I first saw the piece in the Examiner on the very same Tuesday that Cork was meant to be celebrating one of its sporting icons, it reminded me that this sense of positivity was all just a facade. Cork is no paradise. Ireland is no paradise. Life in Cork is no paradise.
It’s not all doom and gloom, despite at time seeming like it is, but we just need to be weary. As a community, UCC plays a huge role in how Cork is seen across the world and across the country, and we have the power to make it a little easier. So today, as you’re reading this rambling on of paragraphs; take away from it one lesson: Look after each other. If you see a fellow student, be it UCC or CIT, ever in difficulty do try and help if you can. In the words of Tesco, every little helps.