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Straight Talking

Straight Talking (46)

Perils of Perils of the Internet: Onus is on parents to wise up

 

 

 

 

A recent high profile trial in this State brought to the surface many talking points, not least the free availability of extreme violence and pornography which is a couple of clicks away on every smartphone in the country.

  I have a feeling that many parents are not aware of the stuff that is flying around on the Internet every day of the week. Some of the stuff that is appearing on Whatsapp and other facilities that are available on any smartphone is truly frightening and disturbing.

  For example, this week images of the injuries suffered by a 13-year-old girl who was attacked in Fermanagh were widely available and being passed on by hundreds of thousands of people. Last year a video of a person who was killed in an accident on the M50 was widely circulated. Every day, violent rows and every kind of extreme sexual and violent behaviour is shared – and it goes around like wildfire.

  It’s only the tip of the iceberg as hundreds of these messages and videos are shared every single day, without any censorship at all. That’s quite apart from all the porn and violent sites that are just a click away as well.

   Most mature adults would be able to deal with this carry-on without too much bother, but God only knows what effect it is having on young people. I hear politicians appealing for restrictions on these major companies – which is an honourable stance to take – but that ship has sailed a long time ago. Restricting them here would be impossible unless the same restrictions were to apply in every other country as well.

  The responsibility for this stuff being seen by young people has to be with parents. Buying a smartphone for a 10 to 12 year old is not a good idea if it is not monitored strictly. They are powerful mini-laptops in your pocket.

  That’s not even to mention the whole vexed question of bullying. A report this week reveals that most of the online bullying that goes on among school going kids happens at night. So when your little darlings go up the stairs at night with their smartphone in their hand, anything could be happening. I know that it’s scary, but it’s a reality.

  Social media has been a phenomenon of the modern age. Applications like Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook and all the others have some great advantages and have been a very positive addition to many people’s lives in this era of instant news.

  There is a very dark side to it too – that’s the reality. Parents just have to take responsibility for what their kids are looking at. Expecting the politicians to do it isn’t the answer.

  In the next month there will be many requests from young people for their parents to buy them a smartphone for Christmas. It would be wise to stop and think about the responsibility having that phone brings. Most kids are okay and well adjusted and unlikely to do anything very serious, but there are those who would be adversely affected by looking at this material. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s time to shout stop (again)

 

 

 

When people like me highlight closures and the withdrawal of services locally, we are often accused of ‘talking down the county’. I have lived in this county all my life and been very proud to do so. However, as someone who has a responsibility to do so, I will always highlight problems that exist when they arise – and I make no apology for doing so.

  I have to say that I am dismayed with the amount of services that have been withdrawn from our county in the past couple of years alone. Hardly a month goes by that there is not some announcement that will have a major negative effect on our community.

  First there was the downgrading of Boyle Garda Station, then we had the disastrous closure (almost complete) of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea. Some weeks ago it was announced that the Garda Divisional Headquarters would be moving from Roscommon Town to Castlebar, and there is a now a long-term threat (albeit due to mooted refurbishment work) to continued sittings at Roscommon Courthouse.

  Earlier this month there was the devastating news that the Cuisle Centre in Donamon is to close with the loss of around 45 jobs, and this week we have confirmation from Bord na Mona that hundreds of jobs in the Midlands are to go as the ESB stops using peat altogether.

  With the exception of the Bord na Mona jobs, all the other situations receive little national media coverage. They are however huge blows within our county. It’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and now is the time for our public representatives to shout stop. It seems like the loss of services here is a relentless trend.

  Bit by bit, services are being taken away – and not being replaced – and it is happening under our noses. The fact is towns such as Roscommon, Boyle and Castlerea are commuter towns where the majority of people are getting into their cars and heading west or east to work every day.

  Local people, including Cuisle staff, were due in the Dáil on Wednesday to protest at the decision of the Irish Wheelchair Association to close Cuisle, but believe me folks, like everything else in this country, if the political will was there Cuisle would remain open. If Cuisle was located in Minister Finian McGrath’s constituency, do you think it would be closing? I think you know the answer to that one.

  The argument about the use of peat to generate electricity has been lost a long time ago but the fact remains that there are hundreds of people who have been in Bord na Mona for 30 and 40 years and who will never work again. The gaggle of ministers who visited the area on Monday say that the people in Bord na Mona can be re-trained so that they can retrofit houses. I will be amazed if that happens. They are also planning to ‘refurbish’ the bogs and turn them into tourist trails and parks. I’m not convinced by that either. A way of life for many people is coming to an end, it’s as simple as that.

  The bottom line is that as the months go by, many services are being cut and employment is being reduced in rural Ireland, especially in the midlands. How many cuts are we going to have to withstand in this county and this region before people start to get very angry? There is a general election coming up in the next five or six months. Readers should remember that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gay shaped a nation’s conversation for decades

 

 

 

When the broadcasting revolution happened in Ireland in 1989 – when legal local radio began – those of us who were interested in current affairs had a template for our work – and that was Gay Byrne. If you wanted to know how to do it than you could look no further than ‘Uncle Gaybo’, because he was simply the best.

  His passing on Monday has led to an outpouring of sorrow and more importantly respect, the like of which is seldom seen in this country – and it is well merited too.

  I was not a massive fan of Gay Byrne as I felt that he was condescending and intolerant at times when people disagreed with him, but there is no doubt that he more than anyone else shaped a nation’s conversation for decades.

  Since his passing on Monday, I have heard some people say that he was in the right place at the right time as there was little opposition when he as at his peak. RTÉ had the radio and TV sectors to themselves and he had a captive audience, but I think that is unfair on Gay Byrne. He still needed to have the skill to engineer the debate that was so badly needed in this country and he was a master at that.

  He raised issues that were never discussed in public in this country before and the women of the country hung on every word that he uttered on his radio and TV programme. He raised and took on issues that at the time no one else would have dared to. What I admired about Gay Byrne most of all was his fearlessness. If he thought the issue was relevant he discussed it and he didn’t care who didn’t like it.

  In fact Gay Byrne took the pressure off governments and major organisations in this country because he was addressing issues, particularly social issues like homosexuality, birth control, divorce, sexual and physical abuse and rural isolation. They were issues that the powers that be in the ‘70s and ‘80s were shying away from. But not Gay. If it was relevant, he took it on. He shone a light into the many dark corners of Irish society and we are a better country for it.

  He was obviously a man who loved broadcasting. After he retired he went on to present programmes like ‘The Meaning of Life’ and a radio show on Lyric FM. He had a brilliant broadcasting voice and those who worked on his shows always said that he was a hard taskmaster and a perfectionist.

  I never met Gay Byrne but I grew up with him. Every Saturday night ‘The Late Late Show’ was essential viewing in our house, as it was all over the country. His radio show was listened to by the majority of the women in the country and he rarely disappointed. Someone said this week that when the husbands walked out the door to go to work, Gay Byrne walked in with his radio show.

   More than anyone else Gay Byrne has been instrumental in this country growing up and becoming more accountable in a number of very important areas. He was an incredibly skilful broadcaster who knew how to get the best out of ordinary people and believe me that is a very difficult thing to do.

  The word legend is bandied about far too often in the media when people pass away but I can think of no more appropriate term for Gay Byrne. He was a broadcasting legend.

May he rest in peace.

 

 

Scourge of cocaine use now a reality in every town and village

 

The explosion in the use of cocaine as a drug of choice for so many people in this country is something that I wrote about in this column a number of months ago. This week the Health Research Board have confirmed that use of the drug is now widespread in every town and village in Ireland.

  In fact the Gardai and other authorities are now so worried about the extent of the use of cocaine, they say it is becoming a far bigger problem than alcohol abuse. This is a remarkable development.

  This week the Board have said that the average cocaine user is now far more likely to be a farmer, a nurse or a factory worker – and not the wealthy urban office workers who were often the stereotypical cocaine users in the past. People who work in the drug treatment sector around the country now say that while cocaine use was largely confined to cities and big towns up to five years ago, it is now present in every community in the country, urban and rural.

  In the local newspapers in recent months there have been many warning signs about the spiral in cocaine use. In Letterkenny, the Donegal Democrat recently reported that the problem in the town was ‘rampant’. A recent meeting of the Mayo Joint Policing committee was told that the problem in the county was ‘spiralling out of control’.

  Apparently if there is a big weekend of socialising coming up – such as a wedding or a stag or hen party – some people are using cocaine to ensure that they do not need to go to bed and can thus stay drinking for long periods without having to sleep.

  The report also states that by the time cocaine gets to the small dealers in rural Ireland, the drug has been mixed several times with other substances such as rat poison, meaning people do not have a clue what they are taking.

  Furthermore, it has to follow that if so many people, both young and not so young, are taking cocaine, the number of people driving on our roads with this drug in their system is rising with every passing week. That, needless to say, is a major concern.

  The amount of violent attacks on our streets is increasing all the time and I would maintain that much of that is down to the erratic behaviour brought on by excessive cocaine use.

  There has to be a price to be paid for this latest development in Irish society. I am convinced that many parents and those who are responsible for the education of young people are not aware in the slightest of just how big this problem is at the moment.

  If there are people out there today who think that cocaine use is not a problem in their community, then they are deluded and need to wake up. It’s only when they are a number of tragedies that people will sit up and take notice. Then it’s too late.

  There are so many ways for people to get a hold of this drug now. I am told that to successfully get your hands on cocaine requires little more than a couple of phone calls, regardless of where you live in this country right now. It’s frightening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seamus Duke on sport - October 25th

 

 

 

 

Junior and Intermediate finals a highlight!

When I look back at 2019 last Sunday’s junior and intermediate football finals in Dr. Hyde Park will be among the highlights. The weather was fine, which is always a plus, but there were two great games and four outstanding teams on view.

  In the first game, Ballinameen came with a plan to play all-action football. There was a man in red and white always available to take possession and they carried it out to perfection. St. Brigid’s’ young team played their part but they had no answer to Charlie Ward’s team, superbly led by Dessie Carlos.

  It was also fantastic to see the people of Ballinameen out on the field after the game celebrating with their heroes. That’s the beauty of the GAA and the club game in particular. There is a chance for everyone to have their day in the sun.

  Ballinameen’s captain Peter Keane was seriously ill just two months ago. Little did he know he would be lifting the cup alongside his teammates, neighbours and friends last Sunday. St. Brigid’s made a big contribution too and they have many talented young players who will surely feature at senior level in the future.

  In the intermediate final, Oran played some brilliant football for 40 minutes but just couldn’t sustain it and Tulsk eventually found a way to reel them in. It was another mighty game.

  There is probably more room for improvement in Tulsk ahead of the replay and they have to be the favourites to win at the second attempt. It would be so cruel if Oran were to lose another replay, but it promises to be another great match.

  It’s no coincidence that the games we have seen over the past number of weeks in Dr. Hyde park have been very entertaining. The pitch is in fantastic condition and players love those conditions. It’s been a great couple of weeks for club football in the county.

Irish hype train derailed in Japan!

It was no real surprise that Ireland lost to the All Blacks last Saturday at the Rugby World Cup but the manner of defeat was a shock. Ireland were hammered, and they had no answer to the power and skill of New Zealand.

  It was a very sad way for Joe Schmidt to end what was a very successful tenure for him as the Ireland head coach. But the facts of the matter are that Ireland regressed in the twelve months leading up to the World Cup. The signs were there and were largely ignored by many of the pundits and the Irish rugby media.

  There is more hype surrounding the Irish rugby team than any other international team that we have. Even the likes of Newstalk who have very extensive sports coverage every day of the week was well populated by cheerleaders over the past few months who ignored the train that was coming down the tracks in terms of Ireland’s form going into the tournament.

  Excuses were made for the terrible Six Nations performances against England and Wales and more excuses were trotted out when England humiliated Ireland in that World Cup warm-up at Twickenham. Even the loss to Japan was put down as a blip.

  The facts are that we were not good enough and got what we deserved. There will be a month or two with not much comment and the hype will start again in time for the Six Nations.

  However, seven losing quarter-finals and counting is a terrible record for a team that is built up so much every time we go to a World Cup.

  In the semi-finals I am expecting New Zealand and South Africa to emerge. England will try to bully the All Blacks but they have too much variety in their game to get caught but I am expecting a very good match between the two. Wales are the constant over-achievers and they will give it everything against South Africa but the Springboks look a very strong side with a very impressive bench and that could decide it in the end.

 

Norwich away is the real test for United!

 

In fairness, Manchester United put in a reasonable display against Liverpool at the weekend and I would have taken a draw before the game started. But I will withhold any great praise for United until I see how they get on against Norwich this weekend. United were always going to raise their game for Liverpool but it’s games like Norwich away that are the real test of character!

  Meanwhile, Roy Keane was at it again on Sunday on Sky Sports and there is no doubt about it he is box office - whether you agree with him or not!

  While the Manchester United and Liverpool players were waiting in the tunnel to go out on the field a number of players on each side embraced and others shook hands. Keane was apoplectic as he said: “What’s that all about? Players hugging and shaking hands, they are going out to war, into battle, it’s a load of crap if you ask me!”. He’s right you know!

 

Mixed response to two-tier football

 

The GAA will be bringing in a ‘tier two’ football championship in 2020 and there are many conflicting views about it. Most Roscommon people would of the view that it will not affect us here in this county but they are mistaken.

  The bottom two teams in Division Two of the league will not get into the qualifiers for the main championship if they don’t reach their provincial final. I know that it’s probably highly unlikely, but if Roscommon were to be dragged into a relegation battle it would be worrying as we have the prospect of playing Mayo in the Connacht semi-final next May. That would be a 50/50 match. The new situation will make Division Two a real dog fight now, as if it wasn’t going to be one already! 

  The idea of a two-tier championship is a good one in my view but the GAA must take it seriously and market it properly. Players in the lower ranked counties must have something tangible to aim for. If the GAA get it right at the start it will be a success.

  Meanwhile, the new playing rules will be interesting when they are introduced on January 1st. The kickouts from the 20-metre line will cause no controversy. However, the advanced mark will be tough for referees to police. Was the player outside or on the 45 metre line? Did the ball travel 20 metres? How long does the player who makes the catch have to decide whether to play on or take his free?

  With regard to the 10-minute sin-bin, it will certainly work in big games when there are plenty of officials to rule on the time-keeping but I am not so sure it will work in club league games where there are very few neutral officials. But there is no point in shooting down the new rules before we get a chance to see them in action.

 

An honour to introduce 1979 heroes

 

It was a great honour to be asked to introduce the National Football League winning team of 1979 at Dr. Hyde Park at half-time in the recent senior county final.

  That sunny day in May 1979 was one of the greatest days in Roscommon football history. Not only did Roscommon win the league title for the first time but they played some unbelievable football that day. They won the game by 0-15 to 1-3 and it was a display full of marvellous attacking and flowing football. Having beaten Kerry in the quarter-final and Offaly in the semi-final, it was a success on the national stage that I will never forget.

 

Note: I am running a video disco as a fundraiser for Roscommon Palliative Care this Friday night at Nancy’s Nightclub in Castle Street. Please support this worthy cause if you can. It’s €10 to get in and it should be a bit of craic!

 

Votegate: How to treat the electorate with disdain

 

 

 

I realise that Brexit, the housing crisis and homelessness are far more pressing issues for people, but the disdain that many of our politicians show for the electorate is clear for all to see in the current controversy over TDs casting votes on behalf of fellow TDs in the Dáil chamber.

  If I turned up at a voting booth with two polling cards I would be in big trouble, and rightly so. I don’t think it’s too much to ask TDs who are earning almost €100,000 a year to attend in the chamber when they are supposed to vote. It only takes a few seconds to cast a vote.

  What really annoys people is when politicians try to cover up their mistakes when they are found to have acted wrongly…rather than owning up. I happened to hear Lisa Chambers on radio on Sunday when she denied point-blank that she had ever voted on behalf of anyone else. Then, when she was exposed on Sunday evening, she produced the greatest load of codswallop I have heard for some time.

  Deputy Chambers indicated that she had misunderstood the question. She thought she was being asked did she “intentionally, knowingly, purposefully” vote for somebody else. “It was a long week and I was tired” came the next excuse. Who do these people think that they are codding?  She was badly caught out and should have apologised. It’s as simple as that.

  This controversy puts Micheál Martin in a bind because he accepted the explanation given by Chambers, while turfing Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins off the front bench. He obviously didn’t believe their explanations as to why they were voting for someone else. Double standards?

  I have no doubt that as this controversy rumbles on, TDs of all parties and none will be accused of this carry-on. But what implications could it have for the legality of bills which it could now possibly be argued were passed by votes which were illegal? That’s the big question.

   It would appear at the time of writing that Fianna Fáil have far more questions to answer than their rivals…which is another boost to Leo Varadkar and Fine Gael. Yet the Taoiseach must be very frustrated that the Brexit puzzle is still as complicated as it has ever been, as right now would be a very opportune time to go to the country for a General Election.

  However, back to the issue at hand, and while Votegate may not seem that important to the majority of people, the fact is that the Constitution states that TDs must be present to cast their vote. It’s the law of the land.

  There is a view held by many analysts that this Dáil has been the least productive in the history of the State and that it is paralysed by Brexit. We now have a situation where there are certain TDs who treat the electorate with such apathy that they do not even show up to press a button to vote on the issues that are discussed in a given week.

  The Ceann Comhairle is conducting an investigation into this matter. I hope that his report is revealing and transparent and that the practice of people voting for colleagues is stopped.

  What implications this controversy will have on politics in general is another matter. At the moment, three Fianna Fáil front bench TDs are either suspended or (in the case of Deputy Chambers) in the full glare of controversy. However, I have a feeling that Fine Gael might be dragged into this before the week is out. It’s another fine mess!

 

 

 

Eamon’s bizarre carpooling plan runs into a roadblock

 

 

 

I have to say I like Eamon Ryan. Even though I would disagree with a lot of his policies, I’ve always seen him as well-educated, a good speaker, reasoned and calm. Until last week, that is. Last week he made a suggestion on TV…that there could be twenty of thirty cars parked in a typical Irish village, and that residents could book one of those vehicles when they wanted to go somewhere. This rural carpooling arrangement has to go down as the daftest suggestion I have heard in many years.

  The Green Party leader obviously has no understanding whatsoever of the reality of rural life, of how we have to live from day to day. Many people, including yours truly, get up early in the morning and have a long commute to work. I would need a car every single day from ‘the pool’, and so would many others. Public transport in most rural areas is simply not an option.

  Apart from that, there are insurance issues to be factored in. There would also be issues with regard to fuel costs, not to mention further unresolvable problems. If this is the best that the Green movement can come up with, then we are truly in trouble.

  As predicted, the carbon tax increases saw two cent being added to the price of a litre of petrol and diesel last week. That is on top on an 8-cent increase in the previous month (due to other factors). The bottom line is that it is becoming dearer and dearer for people to live and work in rural areas – and nothing positive is being done about it.

  I know that it has been pointed out already, but a decade ago people were urged (and incentivised) by the Government to buy diesel cars because they were supposed to be better for the environment than petrol vehicles. We know how that has turned out. I would love to be able to buy a monthly train ticket and travel in comfort to work with someone else doing the driving, but it’s never going to happen.

  This climate change problem is real and it has to be tackled. But a plan such as the one Eamon Ryan put forward last week is simply unworkable. The powers that be need to be realistic about what they want for rural Ireland in the future. We need more imaginative plans for rural dwellers when tackling this issue.

  The turmoil around the world and the impending likely departure of the UK from the EU will mean another hike in carbon taxes for everyone. Those living in the bigger urban areas will be better able to withstand that development because of the many public transport options they have – but the rural dweller will get hit hard every time there’s an increase.

  I suspect that if there wasn’t an election on the way, the carbon tax increase in the recent Budget would have been far greater than €6 per ton. The Government have promised that they will increase the tax to €80 per ton by 2030. The increases will be much bigger as time goes on.

  It looks like the Greens may well have a presence in Government after the next election. They will have to come up with better suggestions that Eamon Ryan’s carpooling plan if they want to garner a significant rural vote.

 

 

George, Eoghan and a very shy Lorenzo!

 

 

 

 

Last week the country braced itself for Storm Lorenzo. George Lee put on his most serious face (and that’s very serious) and used his most desperate and most solemn tone of voice to warn us of the impending disaster. RTE reporters were sent to all points on the West Coast to record the terrible tempest and Eoghan Murphy and his officials were holed up in the bunker in Dublin, ready for the worst. But it just didn’t happen – and, not surprisingly, criticism came quickly. 

  I have sympathy for the authorities. The ‘weather people’ were genuinely afraid that there was going to be a significant storm. If they didn’t warn us and the storm caused havoc, then there would have been an even bigger outcry. But a lot of the media coverage of the storm that never quite materialised was way over the top. The danger now is that when the next storm is coming, people may not heed the warnings.

  I see where businesses in places like Galway and Limerick have been critical of the persistent warnings about Lorenzo, as they led to a huge fall-off in the numbers of people who came into the city centres. There was a major financial loss to businesses as a result of the publicity. But it’s very hard to win in these situations.

  With the storm passing without any major damage being done, some of the commentary on social media was hilarious. ‘Light Breeze Lorenzo’ was one of the more printable verdicts that I saw on Twitter.

  As far as I can see, the biggest threat from the change in our climate to people living locally is flooding. For instance, over the past six weeks or so the amount of rain that has fallen is way above average. The land is drenched already – and we are hardly into October. There will be lots more rain before this year is over, which is a major worry.

  Despite the virtual non-appearance of Lorenzo last week, the fact remains that we are facing the threat of more intense storms and heavier rain in the future. Such weather will have a fundamental effect on our land, our homes and on our roads too. There is not much point depending on the insurance companies for solace – make one flooding claim and that’s likely to be the end of your cover into the future.

  Minister Eoghan Murphy was in his element last Wednesday and Thursday. Politicians love to be on our screens day and night – even, I suspect, if warning of impending disaster – especially when they have nothing to do with it.

  I suspect that the majority of people heeded the warnings that they were given and stayed in last Thursday night. It meant that there were no injuries or mishaps at all. But it also meant that the country almost came to a standstill for a night.

  Lorenzo may have passed with a whimper but I suspect that it won’t be long before another more serious weather event hits us. That is the reality.

Note: I am running a fundraiser (an ‘80s and ‘90s video disco) in aid of Roscommon Palliative Care in Nancy’s Nightclub, Castle Street, Roscommon on Friday night, the 25th of October. It’s a tenner on the door. Please support this very worthy cause if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boris and friends recklessly taking everyone to the edge of the cliff

 

 

 

When I heard on Monday that Boris Johnson’s latest idea aimed at trying to solve the Brexit crisis was to propose border checks 10 km or so either side of the border, I had to check if the reports were for real. Then on Wednesday he apparently changed tack to a ‘two-border’ solution, promising no customs checks on the island of Ireland. Monday’s idea was the most unworkable proposal that I have heard so far – and Wednesday’s is not much better – and will be rejected out of hand by the EU.

  In fact a poll in Northern Ireland in 2025 (part of the latest proposal) would most likely turn out to be a poll for a United Ireland and I think most people would know how that campaign might go.

  The most serious aspect of what Mr. Johnson is doing relates to the misery and chaos that a no deal situation will cause. It is not unreasonable to say that it could cause people to lose their lives in the long term.

  So here we have the British Prime Minister, an allegedly intelligent man, who is speaking on behalf of about 65 million people, and who must know that what he is proposing hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of being accepted anywhere. It’s hard to understand how these proposals were seriously considered by someone in the first place. Just when you thought that things could not get any more farcical in the UK, they reach new depths with every passing day.

   From the outside, it sometimes looks as if this is a game to Boris Johnson, the erratic PM lurching from one bizarre situation to another. He seems to be coming up with more unworkable proposals with every passing week, perhaps stalling for time so that he can get the UK out of Europe without a deal – like he has always promised he is prepared to do.

   The craziest thing of all is that every credible economic indicator is predicting that the UK economy will be plunged into recession in a ‘no deal’ scenario. The prediction is that hundreds of thousands of people will lose their jobs, there will be some shortages of medicines and foodstuffs, tariffs on almost all goods, and severe travel restrictions too. But these warnings don’t seem to bother Boris in the slightest.

   As for Ireland, my contention all along has been that Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg and the rest of the Tory ‘posh boys’ could not care less about this country, that any suffering we endure arising from a no deal outcome will simply be our hard luck. One might say the same for his attitude to the suffering which a no deal Brexit will visit on his own country.

  What is very worrying is the fact that there seems to be nobody in a position to sit these people down and make them see sense. Their arrogance and egos have seen to that. “How dare the Irish or anyone in the EU tell us what to do, after all we are the British Empire” seems to be their mantra.

  I was always of the hope that reasonable people in the UK Government would see sense and that there would be a last-minute deal to satisfy everyone (or most people). That now looks very unlikely. Since his tenure as PM began, Boris Johnson and his colleagues have not put one credible idea on the table in relation to the negotiations. It’s as if he is relishing the chaos that he is presiding over.

  There is a growing view in Europe and here in Ireland that people are now sick and tired of the mayhem in the UK and that, despite the fact that it will have very serious consequences, maybe they should leave on October 31st with or without a deal – and have done with it.

  The British people will soon get a chance to make a judgement on Johnson’s leadership, via a General Election. However, I reckon it will be too late. The damage will already be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A knee-jerk response on climate change will cause hardship in rural Ireland

 

 

 

One has to be very careful when writing or saying anything about climate change these days. That serious action must be taken all over the world to try to halt the damage being done to the environment is not in any doubt. But, looking at the big demonstrations involving young people all over the world last weekend, you sense that our politicians are very likely to fall into the trap of reacting in a knee-jerk manner. That reaction, largely because they want to be seen to be on the ‘Green’ bandwagon, will adversely affect many ordinary people.

  The Budget is in two weeks’ time and the certainty is that there will be substantial increases in carbon taxes, which will affect rural people in particular. Big increases in the price of petrol and diesel, home heating oil, and coal and briquettes, will make Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Paschal Donohoe popular with the climate change brigade, but it will be a further massive blow to rural Ireland and the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on their cars and vans to get to work every day. What happens if we have a severe winter and people cannot afford to heat their homes? It’s not an outlandish prospect.

  Leo Varadkar – and most of his ministers – are mighty for the bandwagon. They love to be seen supporting whatever is the latest fad, and the climate change movement is certainly that. What we need is leadership, not populism. If rural people are fleeced with carbon taxes, it will be the expensive price we will have to pay to keep up with the Jones’. But remember, there will be an election next year and people may show that they have long memories if the Government go to town with carbon taxes.

  There are other things that the Government could do to raise taxes to pay for the fight against climate change. A levy on air travel is the first obvious one. Taxing the huge global corporations that make massive profits here, while paying hardly any taxes, is another way of raising finance. I’m sure there are other creative ways of getting people to reduce their carbon footprint too.

  I made enquiries about an electric car recently. The salesperson told me the car would have a range of about 320 km. However, that would be on a flat road with no heater on and if driving at 80 km per hour. I asked him what about driving on a day in mid-December – when it’s dark at half-past three – and when it might be snowing outside, requiring the heater, the lights and the wipers to be on. “That would reduce the range considerably” was the answer. Enough said.

  I admire Greta Thunberg and the young people who have taken up the baton on climate change. There is no doubt that we have to act fast to save our planet. We have to play our part here in Ireland too. But the reality is that if we here in this country didn’t light a fire or put on a heating system, drive a car or lorry, or use any kind of fuel at all from 12 midnight on January the 1st, by the time January the 3rd came, the emissions from China would have made up for the emissions that we’d have saved. That’s the scale of the problem we face. Pressure has got to be put on the likes of the USA, China and others, or our efforts will be a mere drop in the ocean.

  When Minister Paschal Donohoe puts 7 or 10 cent on a litre of diesel so that our Government can be seen to be ‘doing the right thing’, just think of Donald Trump sitting in the White House or the Chinese leaders sitting in Beijing, and know that they couldn’t care less. That is the blunt reality, and that’s our biggest problem in relation to this issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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