The last couple of weeks have been absolutely nuts. It’s only three weeks ago today that Sharon Collins and Essam Eid were sentenced. A week after that I was working on the final edit of Devil in the Red Dress and a week and a half later we were celebrating the launch.
It’s only now that I can take time to take stock and suddenly I realise that apart from anything else I haven’t written a single Christmas card! Tomorrow the first interviews start, first of all it’s out to East Coast Radio in Bray, Co Wicklow for a half hour chat, then on Wednesday it’s over to Phanton FM. It’s still a bit weird being the interviewee rather than interviewer but I’m beginning to get used to it.
It seems that this is a subject it’s going to take people a long time to get tired of talking about – Sharon Collins managed to get herself into the papers again over the weekend by lodging her appeal through her solicitor. That’ll be another circus when the time eventually comes around.
As I start looking forward to the interviews I’m suddenly having to think about what’s in the book. You get to the stage in the last days of writing and editing where you couldn’t see the wood for the trees if you tried…it just becomes all trees and details. Now I’m thinking about how to sell the story and it’s a whole different ball game.
I’m also thinking again about making a trailer but more of that in a few days.
I’ve written often here about the fact that I think that this is very much a defining trial of our time. With the elements of sex, celebrity and excess, not to mention the Internet it has everything that seems to make our generation tick.
It fascinates me that I could find out so much about the lives of people I had never met, who live thousands of miles away. Their past addresses, criminal records, school friends. Trying to find out about people here in Ireland is a different matter entirely.
For Sharon Collins and Essam Eid the attitude was that whatever you wanted, be it a false marriage, a hitman or a deadly toxin, you could find it in a few clicks of the mouse online. But there were many points during the trial where the short comings of Ireland’s access to the World Wide Web became all too clear.
When we heard about Sharon’s attempts to contact “Tony Luciano” from her home in Ballybeg House outside Ennis, for example there was always the mention of the appallingly slow dial-up speeds in the house. Now this wasn’t a case from some time in antiquity, this was 2006 and her partner, PJ Howard was the head of a €60 million property business. The problem was that broadband was simply not available.
So the most technologically advanced murder conspiracy plot this country has almost certainly ever seen was conducted at dial up speeds or in stolen moments during the working day. The situation with broadband is a little better here in 2008 and broadband might have reached much further into the heart of Ireland but still there’s a lot further to go with the amount of information available online.
Whether you’re talking about government departments or the judiciary, the information available is general at best. There are one or two exceptions but even they are firmly rooted in paperwork. I recently filed my taxes using the Irish Revenues online service ROS.
It was a great service but in order to register I had to go through three different registration procedures, two of which required a secure password to be sent to me by traditional post. Just to contrast this, I could access court documents in America with a password sent to me in a matter of hours through their secure server.
Collins and Eid might be pretty bad examples of how to use this incredible resource we have access to nowadays (see The Story Behind the Book for more details) but surely it’s time Ireland started making full use of the facilities available to them. There are Irish companies who use the Internet well but they are still in the minority.
I’ve learnt a lot about what’s possible and what’s fantasy while researching Devil in the Red Dress. I was surprised by how much possibility the Internet opens up, as a journalist I take Google for granted but there’s a lot more out there.
I’m very excited about the possibilities with the global village you get glimpses of with the Net but the antics of Collins and Eid only go to show that there are still plenty of dark corners out there were dodgy people lurk…and some are more successfully dodgy than others!