Log in
From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

All will not be calm and bright in many homes this Christmas

 

 

 

According to Women’s Aid, the charity received nearly 20,000 calls to its helpline last year, meaning an unacceptable and worrying amount of women and children are still experiencing domestic violence and abuse in this country. Many of those unfortunate people are living among us in Roscommon.

  Therefore, with the launch of the 16 Days of Action campaign, which began last Monday, running to December 10th, I’d like to acknowledge those brave survivors who managed to break free from their abusers. Importantly, I’d like to show solidarity with those courageous women who, for whatever reason, are unable to escape and are still suffering at the hands of a coward. My heart goes out to you and your children.

  Now, as someone who was raised in an extremely violent environment, I can tell you that for a child, waking up each day in an unpredictable, tension-filled house, (I refuse to call it a home because it’s not), dominated by terror and fear, can lead to psychological trauma that can remain for decades.

  In fact the abusive environment was the reason I ran off and got married at 17! It’s also the reason I’m the ultimate worrier, always apprehensive about the future, always trying to predict what may happen.  

  However, let me make it abundantly clear, and this is important…it was not my darling, gentle, hard-working, teetotal and loving dad who was the abusive one; rather it was my street-angel, house-devil mother who made both his and my life a living hell. Indeed, throw alcohol and Christmas into the mix, and we became hostages in the hands of a neurotic bully. 

  Now it’s my belief that domestic violence can often occur as a result of learned behaviours.  However, I know it’s also a configuration of a deep-rooted coercive controlling desire living inside the contorted mind of a bitter and warped tyrant, whose goal it is to intimidate and humiliate their victims. I’d even suggest that abusers who hide behind the pathetic drink and drugs defence, (choosing to use them as a convenient excuse), are cowardly, unhinged losers ridding themselves of taking responsibility for their own actions. 

  Indeed, most abusers don’t need alcohol to mistreat people; they’re perfectly nasty pieces of work when stone-cold sober. But hey, if they can place the blame on something else, then they can mask their disgusting oppressive nature, thus minimising the damage they’ve caused in their own minds.

  I adore my dad, he is, and always will remain my first love, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have a fantastic relationship with him and my step-mother.

  In addition, I’m now married to a man who’s not only extremely protective of me; he’s respectful, and importantly, he understands my need, (he’d say compulsion), to rescue and help those who’re vulnerable. Regular readers know this includes animals.

  My reason for sharing my own experience of domestic violence as a child is to show that (while statistically it’s women who’re more likely to become victims), some men do experience abuse.

  In the run-up to Christmas, please readers, be aware of what is happening to many Irish women/men/children in their own homes.

  Due to the close relationship between the abuser and their victim, domestic violent situations can be complex issues. 

  Therefore, if anyone believes that a family member/friend/neighbour is suffering at the hands of a controlling despot, (and if there are kiddies in the mix; they’re also traumatised), then please, this week, do what you can to help. Perhaps begin by inviting them for a coffee and calmly and non-judgementally, voice your concerns. Be supportive and never force the conversation. Remember your pal is finding it extremely difficult to talk about their situation. It’s important you don’t actually tell them they’re in an abusive relationship, rather you might gently mention specific incidents you’ve noticed yourself, and ask how those situations make them feel? Take your cues from their response. Your objective is to help your pal to understand that things aren’t quite right, so please acknowledge their circumstances and reassure them that there’s support available.

  My mother passed away in September, and, while her death opened a massive Pandora’s Box regarding her violent behaviour towards me and my dad, I’ve managed to reconcile with the fact I cannot grieve for her. But that’s fine; how can I be expected to feel the loss of a mother I never had? Indeed, if I am shedding tears readers, they’re for the loss of the childhood she denied me.

  For local support regarding domestic violence/abuse contact Roscommon Safe Link on 071-9664200. There’s also a 24-hour national helpline on Freephone 1800-341900.

 

It’s about time GAA honoured Bloody Sunday victims!

 

On 21st November 1920, British forces rolled into Croke Park, (during a match between my native Dublin and Tipperary), opened fire, and murdered 14 innocent people, injuring many others.

  Last Thursday, on what was the 99th anniversary of this atrocity, the final three unmarked graves of the victims were embellished with headstones. As a proud Irish woman I’m glad that finally, for those entirely blameless souls, common sense has prevailed. Instead of their memories being submerged under petty politics, they’ve now been rightfully honoured as human beings, as family members and as innocents who went to a match and never came home.

  Indeed, it has always been my opinion that while it suited certain bodies to mythologise and utilise this act of savagery when promoting themselves as being significant players in our fight for independence and Irish nationalism, they never saw fit to rightfully acknowledge any of these victims.

  With next year’s centenary on the horizon, I’d like to specifically mention little 10-year-old Jerome O’Leary, (the youngest victim of this act of brutality). That poor kid who was mercilessly shot dead as he sat on top of a wall came from Blessington Street, where I was born and raised. And, as apparently no family members could be found to remember him at the ceremony, the GAA stood in (not before time!).

  And, as Jerome lived where I once lived, this child’s death kind of had a seismic impact on me, and I can only imagine the level of devastation, the sorrow and the suffering visited upon his poor mother on that day. May all who lost their lives ar Domhnach na Fola finally get to rest in peace.

 

Keep the money local!

It’s Black Friday folks, and, as Brexit and online shopping can negatively affect independent businesses, do please remember to shop locally and keep our fabulously festive Roscommon strong!

 

 

It was swing-gate – not the media – that finally un-seated Maria

 

 

Now folks, I don’t wish to keep harping on about Maria Bailey; God knows, I’m sick to my back teeth of the whole sorry saga. Indeed, as she was the architect of her own downfall, I’m not surprised the chronicles of swing-gate finally served to, ahem, unseat her. Therefore last week, as she (in my opinion rightly) continued to face a public backlash regarding her claim (which she ultimately dropped) against the Dean Hotel, and was removed from the Fine Gael ticket in the next general election, I thought this would be the end of this excruciating soap opera. Alas it’s not…and you can thank Senator Michelle Mulherin and her ridiculous comments for that.

  Okay, initially I was prepared to overlook Ms. Mulherin’s catty remarks regarding coverage of Ms. Bailey’s predicament, claiming they hadn’t been “proportionate or fair”. But then she referred to what she described as the “incessant coverage and abuse” allegedly levelled at her former party colleague, and asked if “she (Bailey) was a man, if she would have got it,” (the ‘it’ I assume being either the ‘abuse,’ or the ‘coverage’ or both); so I had to comment. Indeed I had to ask if perhaps Senator Mulherin is actually genuinely concerned for her ‘friend’ or if she’s using the whole mess as an excuse to garner a few column inches for herself…given her own er, discord with the meeja!

  It’s possible Ms. Mulherin, (she of the 130 phone calls allegedly made from her Leinster House phone to an individual in Kenya, which, according to her weren’t ‘personal,’ controversy…yeah…insert raised eyebrow emoji here), is trying to place a more sinister spin on the Bailey outcome. And if that’s the case, then in my opinion that’s as shameful as it is ludicrous! But, for the sake of balance here, I must mention that Ms. Mulherin did pay back those phone charges in full, however, it’s clear from her hostile utterances that the Senator’s still miffed at the meeja attention surrounding the whole affair.

  But I digress…back to Ms. Bailey…and let me say that if you were to pay any attention to Senator Mulherin’s ‘if she was a man’ reference, (and for the record, I don’t), you’d be forgiven for thinking there was some kind of ‘sexist’ motive behind Maria’s removal, when in fact, there isn’t.

  Let me try to put things in perspective here for you, Michelle. I believe Maria Bailey was de-selected because she made a number of very bad decisions and ill-advised choices. She waited way too long before she dropped her case against the hotel, and by doing this, it was she, and she alone, who allowed the saga to drag on as long as it did. Then, by creating what I can only describe as being a publicist’s nightmare, Maria took part in that now infamous interview with Sean O’Rourke, without what appears to be any preparation whatsoever. In doing this Michelle, your BFF placed her foot firmly in her own mouth…but she didn’t stop there…oh no. Instead of holding her hands up, immediately declaring how terribly sorry she was, and how stupid she felt, before promptly shutting up, Maria poured petrol onto the fire, setting in motion the string of events that perpetuated her own downfall. Simples!

  Yes Michelle, what happened to Maria Bailey had nothing got to do with the fact that she’s a female, nay, it had everything to do with the fact she acted foolishly and she was naïve...or vacuous. (You decide, readers). However, as Maria now takes time out to reflect on her future, I’d like to wish both herself and her family the very best!

 

Why I believe KBC bank chief Johan Thijs would make a great panto villain!

 

We’re well into silly panto season readers, (oh no we’re not), and, as we all know, in order to be a roaring success, every panto production needs a realistic baddie…enter stage left Johan Thijs!

  Yep, in my opinion, given his disgracefully impudent, disrespectful and callous ‘move on’ remarks regarding the tracker mortgage scandal, rendering this offensive man to find the whole episode “annoying,” I believe that KBC Group’s chief executive would make a perfectly wicked ‘boo, hiss’ villain! Am I right?

  Yes folks, last week, in what I’d describe as being a typically classic strutting and scheming panto moment, Mr. Thijs insulted everyone who has either been overcharged on their mortgage or who has lost their homes as a result of the controversy with his comments. And you know what? He didn’t even have the decency to place them into a fake feelgood PR-induced coma first!

  Now, while Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has reportedly described Mr. Thijs’ comments as being “ill-judged, ill-informed and deeply hurtful,” I’d like to go one step further and say the latter’s choice of words were a classic case of intrinsic indifference towards his fellow human beings. Okay, Thijs has since apologised, but it’s too little too late, and this insensitive individual should understand that the banks took money belonging to innocent people – and they broke the rules while they did it.

  Therefore, instead of expecting that we all/the country should have ‘dispensed with the issue by now’ my suggestion to Mr. Thijs would be that he might take his own advice and, ‘move on’…to another profession. Specifically something that doesn’t involve him dealing with people.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

 

It’s showtime folks! Yes, if you want to feel truly Christmassy, I suggest you pay a visit to our beautiful county town. Why? Because it’s cosy, it’s friendly, and it’s got everything you could ever want by way of a plethora of shops, restaurants, hotels, jewellers, hair and beauty salons, supermarkets and the farmers’ market…oh and free parking; all topped off with a fabulous, fun, festive atmosphere that I for one can’t get enough of.

  As a ‘Christmas junkie,’ (my granddaughter’s words), each year, I tend to get over-enthusiastic when, upon entering the roundabout into Roscommon town, I notice the Christmas lights height notice (apparently aimed at drivers of large vehicles) and that for me hails the onset of the festive season. It also gives me permission to start acting like a Magpie, and buy up every sparkly, glittery, twinkly and flashy bauble I can get my hands on; much to the amusement of he-who-thinks-he’s-the-boss! Yep, I’m pathetic. In addition, as Roscommon town plays host to some of the loveliest of shop fronts around the country, all displaying an impressive array of creativity and dedication aimed at keeping shoppers closer to home, I’d like to remind readers to remain loyal, shop local and keep the money, as well as the jobs, in Roscommon. This of course applies countywide. Remember, our local stores’ survival may depend on the benefits of the additional revenue they receive in the run-up to the festive season; so do give them a chance!

 

 

Why I’m sick of RTE’s ‘we’re broke’ mantra

 

Well readers, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that RTE, in a bid to save €60 million over three years, has announced a major cost-cutting plan which will include 200 job losses and a fifteen per cent pay cut for its highest earning ‘stars’.

  We’re well aware of the State broadcaster’s financial difficulties; indeed hasn’t Director General Dee Forbes, (or as I call her, the thorn-in-licence-payers’ sides) been going on and on about the cash-strapped organisation’s money struggles for years now. However, instead of doing something constructive, like say, her job, and taking responsibility for the mess, and making radical reforms, Ms. Forbes continues to insist on a licence fee price-hike in order to cover RTE’s sorry ass, and its losses – something which I find inexcusable.

  As a licence payer, (not because I want to be, but because I have to be), I’m sick of the time-wasting, formulaic tripe RTE serves up under the guise of ‘entertainment’ – and to that end, I’m finding it very difficult to illicit any sympathy for Dee and her plight. Indeed, the only emotion I’m feeling this week is apathy, especially as Ms. Forbes reportedly personally receives a wage of €250,000, a €25,000 car allowance and pension contributions of €63,000, (bringing her total package in at €338,000), yet continues to put on the poor mouth. On top of this, RTE bigwigs seem to consistently make short-sighted and contradictory bad business decisions. Like on the one hand, Dee’s licence fee/State support demands tell me she’s probably living in the past, viewing RTE as it was in DeValera’s age when the national broadcaster had a duty to endorse our pure ‘Oirishness’ and push the moral codes of the Catholic Church! On the other hand, RTE’s hierarchy, (strangely appearing to actually embrace the 21st century), whined about the country’s changing landscape where younger audiences are moving their viewing preferences towards online sources…yet then makes the paradoxical decision to cut back on their digital services! What’s that about?

  With all of this in mind, let me offer Ms. Forbes an insight into the real world of media…and say that all organisations are struggling. It’s not just RTE! Indeed, this very newspaper, as it’s a complimentary publication, (not funded by the licence fee, or State support), has to, week in, week out, fend for itself. That means it depends solely upon advertising revenue in order to survive and bring our readers continuous first class content, rendering Dee Forbes and her pathetic ‘we’re broke’ stance to really grate on every nerve in my being!

  Now, let me say that I do have enormous sympathy and feel deep empathy with RTE’s researchers, producers, script writers, cleaning and catering staff, etc., who’ll bear the brunt of Ms. Forbes’ 200 job cuts, and my heart goes out to them. But with regard to the so-called ‘talent’, let me say that, in my opinion folks, you’re not worth it! Nope, you’re not all that! It’s time you realised you’re presenters – not demigods – and no other broadcaster would even think of offering you such ridiculous amounts of money! In fact, I imagine that even with the proposed fifteen per cent cuts to your salaries, you’ll likely still enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle, so forgive me if I don’t set up a go-fund-me page for you any time soon!

  And, while I’m still enjoying the view from my high horse, can I ask why there are twelve staff members working on the RTE Guide? What are they all doing? It doesn’t take that many people to run and produce a magazine. Okay, I’ll admit the Guide kinda fills a niche for something to read in the run-up to Christmas while out having a gingerbread latte…you know, when you’re not interested in focusing fully! Indeed, it probably fulfils the entertainment equivalent of downing a cheap bottle of plonk when what you really want is a magnum of Moet. In fact, the RTE Guide is a magazine I’ll buy, not because of its exceptional literary value, but because I’m feeling nostalgic and want to get rid of the coins jangling in my pocket! Here’s a thought…why doesn’t Dee drop a has-been presenter and use his/her salary to employ the Guide staff elsewhere!

 

Why is there a troubling trend of cocaine abuse in Ireland?

 

Apparently – according to a Health Research Board (HRB) report – there’s a steep rise in cocaine use in this country, with record numbers of people seeking treatment. Now, I don’t know about you folks, but as a mother, I find this to be very disquieting, especially as it’s reported that one in six of those (in Ireland) receiving treatment for drug addiction are dependent on cocaine.

  Without sounding glib, can I ask…where are they getting the money for this coke? I’m working full-time and struggle to fund my weekly bottle of wine, never mind support a drug habit, so I’m genuinely gobsmacked when I hear things like having a line of coke with a pint is deemed to be as normal as having a bag of Tayto or a cigarette. In fact, I find this to be particularly scary, especially as I’ve never even tried a cigarette and I think twice about popping two paracetamol for a headache and instead try to get rid of it with a strong coffee! But, ahem, each to their own.

  Perhaps this addiction all began during the boom, perhaps it didn’t. However, I do know that cocaine, (in its powdered form), is linked to the Celtic Tiger, with crack cocaine abuse and dependency being more linked to organised crime and those who are, for want of a better explanation, feeling disempowered. Indeed, this type of drug is decimating families and communities alike, causing pain on so many levels; and the reality is, that its use is commonplace, it’s rife and it’s readily available, with some people even ‘doing coke’ in order to see them through a simple workday. Indeed, as drug addiction services are more geared towards heroin abuse, and there are opiate substitute treatments linked to it, (like methadone), it appears, despite the fact cocaine dependency is on the rise, that our treatment facilities and services have not been able to keep up. Therefore, if you’re unfortunate enough to be consuming cocaine, I presume your best option for help is to go down the very expensive psychotherapy (or talk therapy route). But hey…I hate to sound heartless here, but if you’ve got the cash to spend on coke, you’ve got the cash to spend on a good shrink! Am I right?

 

 

 

 

Bye bye, Maria...thank you for playing!

 

 

Well it all kicked off at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, the place where – ironically – my great hero Michael Collins used to hide out (in room 210 allegedly) with Kitty Kiernan; yet last week, this historic hotel could provide no hiding place for Fine Gael ‘swing-gate’ TD Maria Bailey! The (some will say disgraced), TD’s efforts to sue the Dean Hotel in Dublin after she fell off a swing at their premises had sparked the urgent review of her place on Fine Gael’s party election ticket. I must mention that Ms. Bailey later dropped this case.

  However, the resulting controversy could spell the end of her political career, and while I believe we all make mistakes, in my opinion anyone who submits an inflated claim regarding an incident where personal responsibility is probably a clear-cut issue, yet isn’t big enough to admit they were wrong, er, kinda deserves what they get! Too harsh?  Well, if it all goes pear-shaped, Maria could always take up acting as a career. I mean that aftermath Oscar-winning, blame-shifting ‘please pity me’ performance she gave on Today with Sean O’Rourke was so breathtaking, I’d go so far as to say it could have rivalled the screen antics of drama queen Bette Davis herself! 

  In a time where businesses are closing down due to rising  premiums and where insurance providers are insisting their escalating costs are due to unethical claims, it’s totally understandable that a prominent TD’s puffed-up claim would enrage the taxpayers. I know it certainly angered me! Mind you, as the local Fine Gael members’ recommendation regarding a review will now go to the party hierarchy with respect to Ms. Bailey’s political future, (a decision on which I believe won’t be reached until next week), it’s my opinion there could still be a few twists to this sorry saga! You see, it’s likely that it won’t be an easy task to remove what is a democratically selected sitting TD; therefore this whole scandal has plunged Fine Gael into uncharted territory. But hey, as they’re consistently throwing taxpayers like you and me under the bus, it goes without saying that it serves them right. 

  As for Ms. Bailey, well, while I don’t think her actions warrant the reconvening of the Nuremberg Trials, as she did drop a major clanger, I’ll admit it’s really hard for me to garner any sympathy for her. Indeed, as she awaits her fate, I’d imagine the embattled TD is possibly feeling sad, lonely, jobless, party-less, friendless…in fact, the poor thing’s probably only seconds away from recording a country album (only joking, love).

  But allow me to be empathetic here and say to Maria that if part of her overall argument is that we, (the poor taxpayers) don’t know all of the pertinent facts, then my response to her would be…outline them for us! If this TD has any information that can save her seat, she shouldn’t be holding back, she should be revealing it…otherwise, if she doesn’t, well, it’s gonna be a case of bye bye Maria, thank you for playing!

 

We should punish all sex abusers, whether male or female

 

Last week, following her guilty plea to two counts of ‘defilement of a child,’ a 25-year-old female secondary school teacher was jailed for having sex with her then fifth-year 16-year-old male student. Now while some of my kind-hearted readers have stopped me to say they “felt sorry for the young woman”, let me state that as far as I’m concerned, she did the crime, and she should do the time.

  I understand this woman’s defence has argued that she was, at the time of the offence, a 23-year-old ‘young and inexperienced teacher,’ but I’m glad she was punished by our courts’ system. Indeed, I personally find it insulting that we, as parents, are expected to believe on any level that an individual could fully qualify as a teacher, nay, a shaper of young minds, and not know that it is illegal, and it is wrong, to have a sexual relationship with a minor. Let me be balanced here and say that there are many instances whereby a consenting younger male (who has reached the age of majority) can engage and enjoy a physical relationship with a consenting older female, however we should never, ever underestimate the fact that some women can, and do, control. And some women can, and do, abuse. Indeed, as this particular case, and its implications regarding a serious breach of trust between teacher and student, and teacher and parent, has clearly highlighted for us.

  Now it goes without saying readers, that if the tables were turned and a male teacher had engaged in sex with an underage female student, I’m certain the perpetrator would not have been afforded the sympathetic ‘mitigating circumstances’ defence made available to this predatory woman. Nay, there’d have been an outcry, and rightly so. And, while I’m no specialist, just a concerned citizen, I’d like to ask the ‘child abuse expert’ whose court report stated that this abusive woman ‘was not a paedophile,’ but was basically, bless her, just a naïve and immature soul, to explain how they reached such a conclusion. While this expert is obviously a highly respected professional, the thing is, based on the high standards around integrity and sound judgement set out for being involved in the teaching profession, it’s evident a criminal act was committed. In view of that, perhaps this ‘expert’ might now like to take a long hard look at their own forms of rational reasoning. Just a suggestion.

  Seriously readers, it’s about time we prosecuted and punished all sex abusers, be they male or female, because the seriousness of such heinous crimes should never, ever be left to hang primarily on the gender of the one who commits these vile acts.

 

Pension auto-enrolment is a key policy tool…apparently!

 

Apparently readers, under criteria announced last week, those of us working in the private sector who’re between the ages of 23 and 60 years, earning over €20 grand a year will, (if we don’t have a private pension), soon find ourselves auto-enrolled into a government scheme! So, I hear you ask…what’s this gonna cost me?

  Well, as far as I understand, workers will make a contribution of 1.5 per cent of our wages. This will rise to 6 per cent over ten years. So, a significant enough amount…I hear you say!  But hey, our employers will match this on earnings up to €75 grand! As for the government…what’ll they pay into it? Ah well, at the time of writing, the suits hadn’t yet bothered to reveal what their financial input will be. You could say that on one hand this may be a nice top-up to our State pension, but, on the other, as a defined contribution scheme, the whole situation could prove highly unpredictable, and you, me and other suckers, sorry workers, will probably, as usual, bear the entire risk! Apparently this will happen on a phased basis from 2022!

 

 

The horrors of last week highlight the escalating problem of human trafficking

 

The very idea that thirty-nine people could freeze to death in a truck trailer in their quest to seek a better life is not just heartbreaking; it’s also scarcely credible in this day an age. In fact, the sheer awfulness of this tragedy (with its apparent Irish links) serves to highlight the rapidly escalating problem that is human trafficking. 

  Therefore, as the international investigation into the deaths continues, like others, I have to wonder what would persuade anyone to leave their homes and families and attempt a hazardous trip to the other side of the world where they believe (or are told) they’ll be able to live a more lucrative lifestyle? Those vulnerable people who made that life-ending trip last week, must have known they were entering another country illegally, meaning they would on some level have realised that if things didn’t go according to plan, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to the authorities for help. Yet, for some reason, these poor souls, possibly upon analysing the obvious risk factors involved, decided to take their chances. And why? Was it because their lives were so horrendous back home? Or was it because the lies they were spun – by what I can only describe as predatory pimps – were so believable, the deceased, despite being at a disproportionately high risk for future exploitation, handed over their cash and placed themselves at the mercy of manipulative people?

  As desperation, poverty and vulnerability are all on the rise, those in need will always be at risk of being coerced into what may become life-threatening situations. Indeed exploitation will always be the driving force behind the current scale of human trafficking, which has become so massive, it has now morphed into a phenomenally lucrative business, taking on many forms. However, this latest tragedy, which has rocked Ireland, (and the world), has brought the illegal transportation of what must have been distraught and wretched human beings, and their resulting victimisation and deaths, under sharp scrutiny.

  Amid reports of these desperate people paying international gangs up to Stg£30,000 each in order to take their trip, given the profit margins involved, is it any wonder that these immigration-based crimes are on the rise? Indeed, the fact that our own country’s name has been implicated in this latest catastrophic incident not only brings this exploitative industry closer to home, it also serves to show us the full scope of the overall operation. Now it stands to reason that criminals will always look for a market, and of course the more global they can make that market the more profitable it will be. Therefore, given existing legislation appears to be clearly inadequate when it comes to addressing the severity of the issue, I’d imagine it’ll be hard for the Gardaí and their UK counterparts to pinpoint not only the actual scale of this exploitation, but the mastermind(s) behind it. 

  The underlying horror here is that this heart-shredding story will not serve to be the watershed moment that makes authorities sit up and tighten legislation; rather it will likely become another nine-day wonder. Lessons will not be learned and vulnerable people will still risk their lives in search of a better life. May those thirty-nine souls rest in peace. My thoughts are with their grief-stricken families and friends.

Is favouritism alive and well and living in the Dáil?

 

I see the ‘boil water’ notice has been lifted in Dublin, Kildare and Meath…oh great, thank God this highly important issue has been resolved; I mean, I was all ready to don my black armband and go into mourning for those thirsty city folk! Told ya…multiple sarcasms! 

 

  Look, when I arrived in this county, I was under a ‘boil water’ notice for two years…yep, two whole years, but did anybody care? Nope! In fact the water coming out of my tap was so bad, not only did I not wish to drink it, I didn’t wish to shower in it! But hey, was our precarious and toxic situation down here in Roscommon addressed as a matter of urgency in the Dáil? Er no! Was a ‘top priority’ tag placed on the incident? Er no! And why was that? Well, I can only assume that as the contamination of our rural water didn’t affect our city-dwelling senior politicians, our fate remained unimportant.

  Indeed, I’m wondering if the reason last week’s Dublin/Kildare/Meath water emergency was sorted so quickly was due to the fact it directly affected an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s own home and impacted on his Dublin West constituency? Hmmm, reality check here folks…methinks that as rural Roscommon appears to continue to fall victim to the values and the priorities of the big cities, that it’s clear favouritism and preferentialism are alive and well and possibly living in the Dáil!

 Wishing Conor all the very best!

 

Last week I watched deadbeat walking, (sorry, that’s what I call Conor McGregor), announce his UFC comeback fight with, at the time of writing, an unnamed opponent. I have to say, despite the fact I’m a proud Dubliner, I for one won’t be cheering him on.

  In my opinion, given McGregor’s disgraceful pattern of behaviours, (or alleged disgraceful behaviours), this mouthpiece is, for me, not so much a sportsman, rather he serves as an insult to those of us who pride ourselves in coming from similar working class backgrounds.

  Let me tell you folks that every time this bragger opens his cake-hole, I feel myself physically cringing and I’m concerned that his fans, who follow him like sheep, will not only believe his conduct and his er, capers, are acceptable, they’ll also believe they’re normal. Okay, McGregor is the epitome of the fairytale rags-to-riches story, and for that I applaud him. However, using a set of expletives to announce your Octagon comeback when young, impressionable sports fans are listening – saying “I do not give a f**k who the opponents is” – doesn’t so much make McGregor ‘Notorious,’, rather it makes him pitiful!

  He’s arguably giving Dubliners a bad name too! Let me assure you that while every decent Dubliner who lives among you may be motivated to earn as much dosh as we can by working hard, it is not our aim to flaunt it as egomaniacally or as coarsely as we can. Nor is it our aim to offend as many people as we can.

  Remember this, all you young up and coming sports stars; while carrying on like a mouthy degenerate and then draping our country’s flag over your shoulders may generate you a fan base, it will not generate you any real respect. However, as I’m a woman known for reaching multiple sarcasms, (er, that was sarcasms), I’ll finish by wishing Conor all the very best!

 

 

 

 

 

When dealing with our homeless crisis, is Eoghan in way over his bouncy blow-dry?

 

 

 

According to the well-known traditional Irish ballad, ‘Dublin Saunter,’ (made famous by actor Noel Purcell), ‘Grafton Street’s a wonderland, there’s magic in the air;’ well folks, it’s not if you’re five years old, homeless and hungry. Don’t believe me? Just ask ‘Sam’ (not his real name), the innocent little five-year-old boy whose picture, taken as he sat on the cold concrete eating a dinner of carbonara off a sheet of cardboard, went viral last week.

  The image has sparked outrage, and rightly so. ‘Sam’s’ plight was brought to light when himself and his mammy sought the help of volunteers working with the Homeless Street Café charity on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Indeed, a volunteer who helped the family, was so upset they posted the image on social media, describing the scene as being ‘burned’ into their minds.

  Well I know how they feel, because, both as a mother, and as a human being, the situation has had an awful affect on me. In fact, I want to know how Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, would feel if his own family were forced into such a desperate situation on what is ironically, one of our capital’s most upmarket thoroughfares, known for boasting a who’s who of designer shops and posh-nosh eateries?

  In addition, having viewed ‘Sam’s’ picture and hearing how his, and other families whose lives have, through no fault of their own, suddenly imploded, I quickly realised that myself and hubby, (like many other renters and homeowners living in Roscommon), are possibly in a similar situation. Indeed, as I digested ‘Sam’s’ story, the child’s parents’ predicament gave me a clear snapshot of the ever-changing landscape of Ireland’s homeless, highlighting for me what is a worrying phenomenon that charities are trying hard to highlight. It seems that this mother and her child are no different to people like you and me. They’re ordinary folk whom, before becoming homeless, were living ordinary lives. They’re not the so-called stereotypical homeless, rather they’re what is called ‘the new homeless,’ which I assume means they’re not experiencing a mental illness, nor are they substance abusers or criminals, etc. (Now I’m not generalising here, nor am I laying blame on anyone who is vulnerable or unfortunate enough to become homeless through substance abuse or mental illness, etc., I’m simply using these scenarios as a regrettable comparison). Indeed I have enormous compassion for anyone who is experiencing difficulties of any kind.

  In fact, looking at my own situation, I realised that, like some of my readers, I too am possibly at risk of becoming homeless. I hope not…but I once had a big, beautiful showhouse of a home in Dublin. However, due to a painful marriage breakdown, (and yes, I know I was the one who walked out), in order to preserve my sanity and secure my freedom, I signed over my sanctuary to my ex. By doing that, I precariously placed myself in the distressing position of being so close to the edge of the homeless whirlpool, I became – like many renters – dangerously close to getting sucked in and drowning.

  It’s time Eoghan Murphy, (a man who appears to be so self-obsessed he should probably be cautioned for stalking himself), gets his perfectly quaffed head out of his backside and does his job! And if he can’t, then he should resign due to what I’d deem to be his clear and disgraceful dereliction of duty.

  Readers, it’s up to you what political party you support, but when small children are forced to sit on cold concrete to eat their meals, when people who are in full-time unemployment can’t get access to mortgages, and when rents are rising to an unmanageable level, it’s time to re-think our voting preferences. Indeed, I’d say that Eoghan and his Department’s only real talent lies in their use of deceptively flowery language, used to circumvent the fact that his so-called efforts have proved highly ineffectual when it comes to tackling our country’s homeless and poverty crises.

  Indeed, given his blurb, which states his ‘responsibility is to provide the framework and the practical supports needed to build a society that enables our people to live fulfilling lives, in a safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner,’ I’d go so far as to say Eoghan doesn’t understand his own brief. Perhaps it’s not his fault; perhaps he’s in way over his bouncy blow-dry…who knows? One thing’s for sure though, Eoghan’s – and this government’s – obvious failure and blatant ineptitude should be suitably recognised and rewarded in the same way any boss would react to an employee’s non-performance…with their P45 and the sack!

 

 

Is the Dáil the place where truth, honesty and ethics go to die?

The scandalous revelations regarding the admission that Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins voted on behalf of fellow TD Timmy Dooley six times in the Dáil last Thursday – while the latter was absent from the chamber – certainly paints a depressing and worrying picture of some of our country’s public representatives.

  Indeed, since the Dooley-Collins vote-gate disclosure, (described as a ‘misunderstanding’ – yeah, right) – it has transpired that a second Fianna Fáil frontbencher, Lisa Chambers (FF’s spokesperson on Brexit), has also admitted to ‘mistakenly’ voting for colleague Dara Calleary. This ‘mistake’ apparently occurred when Lisa ‘sat in Dara Calleary’s seat’, which is ‘beside my seat’. Seriously? I mean if our TDs are so befuddled they can’t differentiate between which seat is which, how can we charge them with leading and protecting our country? 

  This is a very serious issue we have here. The Dáil is the very place where our country’s legislation is created, amended and confirmed, and I for one would expect that all voting carried out would be above board. Yet now, given this, (I was going to be nice and say discrepancy), but you all know I don’t mince my words, so I’ll call it what it is... betrayal, I want to ask two questions – 1: Can we trust our public representatives? 2: Is our Dáil the place where truth, honesty and ethics go to die?

  One thing’s for sure, I’ll bet these ’mistakes’ and ‘misunderstandings’ will cost FF dearly on the doorsteps, especially as they now provide the opposition with a golden opportunity to sling plenty of muck their way in the run-up to the General Election.

 

 

I (don’t) want to ride my bicycle, Eamon!

 

 

 

 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, right, says he ‘deeply regrets the hurt’ caused by his recent comments about carpooling in rural Ireland. I’ll bet he does, especially given the country’s more than likely going to the polls next May. Yep, frantically back-peddling, (pun intended, because this genius suggested rural village dwellers could ‘cycle down to a local collection point’ to pick up our proposed shared car), the deeply deluded one was quick to try and clarify his absurd suggestion. Feverishly issuing a statement (possibly drawn up by an over-wrought PR officer), it now appears that poor misunderstood Eamon didn’t want to take away our cars, nay, nay and thrice nay dear readers, he only wanted to ‘provide people in rural Ireland with extra options’. Ah, bless his tender heart.

  Now, idiotic as Deputy Ryan’s comments – and his pathetic attempt at clarification – may be, it has to be said his position on rural Ireland is probably no different to that of his fellow politicians sitting pretty up in the big shmoke – and it’s this…we simply don’t matter. I mean, if we did, why would they continue to constantly treat us as a minority? And now, given the silly suggestion made by the leader-of-the-pack of so-called environmental heroes, we run the risk of being further marginalised and stripped of our constitutional right to own our personal mode of transport in our own country!

  Look Eamon, I’m sure you and the rest of your colleagues in Dublin have heard time and time again about the struggle rural Ireland is facing in order to make ends meet. Our plight can’t have escaped you. However, instead of trying to endear yourself to us and help us make our lives better, it appears your attitude is to penalise us ‘hicks’ by limiting our resources and with it, our sense of self-respect. Indeed, if Eamon (and the rest of the heavy-hitters) ever visited a genuine sweat, toil and tears rural village, they’d see that for many, the business element is either dead or on the verge of breathing its last as the people struggle to keep local shops, pubs and petrol stations open. Now I hasten to add…Tulsk is a thriving little village, (thank God), open and ready for business, but sadly that can’t be said for a lot of our rural neighbours. 

  Indeed, if Eamon drives (or cycles) to some rural areas, (many are located outside of beautiful Roscommon), he’d soon see the majority are showcasing similar scars resulting from apathetic bureaucratic neglect! Service stations stand idle; their pumps, due to the rising cost of fuel, are no longer operating. Shop windows are boarded up and small schools are disappearing through lack of families. And why? Because Ireland’s economic growth is concentrated in Dublin, the city that houses the decision-makers, and what I like to sarcastically call, the ‘brunch-bunchers,’ i.e. the over-privileged prats who have it all!

  Look Eamon, while I pride myself in being an environmentally friendly citizen, nobody, not even my husband, is welcome to use my precious car. I mean, I’m okay with him using it, (and grudgingly hand over the keys), when he absolutely needs them, but when it comes to my private transportation, I’m just not a team player! Like the rest of my village neighbours, I work hard for an item which is, quite literally, costing me a fortune to run, but is essential to my very existence here in rural Ireland.

  Okay, I admit it, I chose to leave Dublin with its DART, its Luas, and its buses, etc., and relocate here to live in Roscommon. I chose to cut and run, leaving the bright lights, big city, high-paying jobs way of life, and nobody twisted my arm to do so, however, I never once thought I’d be penalised for it. Nor did I think my decision to enhance my life would mean I’d be living in a situation whereby the county I moved to would have its taxpayers’ and its voters’ money collected and dispersed for the betterment, not of themselves, but of some arrogant politicians and their favoured urban communities!

  For the record Eamon, I’ll never be giving up my car, nor will I be sharing it, and the day that I do is the day that my doctor needs to tag my toe and call the coroner, ‘cause I’m dead! Got it? Good!

 

Who were these impossible-to-place X Factor celebrities?

 

I have to say readers, despite the fact I wasn’t at all sold on the overall concept, and, through a lack of nothing better to do, last Saturday myself and himself tuned in to see episode one of the X Factor Celebrity series. I told you we don’t get out much!

  Mind you, the calibre of ‘celebrities’ was so questionable, and so deliciously absurd, I imagine, for the researchers, it  was really a case of scraping the bottom of the barrel to see who was available. Okay, I recognised Ricki Lake, Jenny Ryan, Martin Bashir and David Hasselhoff’s young one Hayley, and of course the man who seeks publicity like a black tar heroin drug addict seeks a fix…Ben Foden, but that was it! As for the other ‘performers’, I could only describe them as being a part of the wannabe celebrity underclass desperate to dominate our small screens.

  Yep, perhaps I’m getting old, but who the hell were those third-tier reality show stars, and that extremely impossible-to-place actor from Holby City who seemed to think winking and smirking were the perfect substitute for lack of stage presence? I mean, I actually watch Holby City and I still can’t place this man; that’s how characterless he is. Then there was former Glee actor Kevin McHale, a bloke I hadn’t heard of either; but wait, I suddenly got a nagging suspicion that  somehow, through the wine fog, I recognised him; but then I didn’t quite know why…so I googled him. Turns out talented Kev had played paraplegic guitarist and singer Artie in the musical drama. Aaah, there it is.

  Anyhow, as the winter nights are drawing in, and myself and himself love nothing better than sitting by the fire, takeaway on lap, glass of wine in hand (me), pint of non-alcoholic beer in meaty paw (himself), I can guarantee you I’ll be tuning in. And why? Well, these X Factor quasi-celebrities have now crept onto my Saturday night viewing radar; but not because I can listen to them ‘singing’, but because I can poke fun at their questionable plastic-surgery-nightmare-horror-stories, their spilling-their-guts-on-Instagram-dramas, and their unhinged-desperate-to-be-famous-and-clever-enough-to-act-stupid-to-achieve-notoriety claims to fame! Yep, I need to get a life!

 

 

 

 

Don’t blame it on Met Éireann, they’re forecasters, not fortune tellers!

 

 

 

I’m no tree-hugger, however I do my bit to try and live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Indeed, I fully understand, and I worry quite a bit about the negative effects that extreme weather conditions are having on our planet. And, despite the fact some of our elected officials recklessly continue to deny climate change exists (I’m talking about you, Danny Healy-Rae), I for one will always place my trust in the experts, (I’m talking about the very capable Evelyn Cusack and the folk at Met Éireann).

  Therefore, last week, when the no-nonsense Ms. Cusack and her team flagged the extent of the potential threat posed by the incoming Hurricane Lorenzo, (downgraded to storm status when it reached our shores), I personally took notice and got into preparation mode. Yep, I stocked up on dog food and wine!

  Look, given last year’s (and previous years’) extreme weather patterns and events, (which tragically saw several people losing their lives), it was obvious that Hurricane/Storm Lorenzo was always going to pose a substantial threat to our country. To that end, in my opinion, the criticism levelled at Met Éireann in the aftermath was totally unfair and largely inexcusable! Yep, before the last drops of rain had dried up, the condemnation on social media had begun.

  Okay, I know many businesses who shut up shop now feel pretty annoyed and believe the scaremongering was a bit over the top. I also know that unfortunately there’s a financial impact attached to these decisions, but the thing is, nobody told anybody to close down for the duration of the storm. Met Éireann and the local authorities simply armed the public with the facts, and, as responsible citizens it was up to us to take that advice and either run with it or ignore it. In short, we were free to make our own informed decisions, to be big enough to take responsibility for them and to not go lambasting the experts when it all went pear-shaped.

  Indeed, an example of one amadán who chose to ignore the Irish Coast Guard’s message to ‘stay back, stay high, stay dry,’ meaning unless you’re a total imbecile (my words not the Coast Guards’), back off from coastal areas, was a certain kite-surfer. However, clearly this arrogant dope and his ‘I know best’ attitude, which culminated in a full-scale air and sea rescue to recover him, has a limited brain capacity. Therefore he should, in my opinion, be prosecuted for placing these heroes’ lives at risk and then slapped with a bill for the financial cost of his rescue and evacuation to hospital in what were gale-force nine conditions.

  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad this glutton for punishment was found safe and well, his only injury apparently being a broken leg, but his thoughtlessness placed his fellow human beings’ lives at risk – and that’s inexcusable in my book.

  Look folks, I don’t mean to rant. I’m just someone whom, when it comes to our weather, relies on the skill and proficiency of Met Éireann’s staff. And, even though they’ve got access to the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts, which is apparently ‘the best weather-modelling service in the world,’ last week’s event proved that when it comes to our weather, unpredictability is always to be expected with precaution being the catchword of the day. So, why not cut Evelyn and her colleagues a bit of slack, listen to their advice and, as is your prerogative, decide yourself whether or not you wish to adhere to it! But remember, if, after the event, your roof hasn’t blown off, or your trees haven’t fallen down flattening your car, don’t criticise those who tried to help, just take a deep breath and  be thankful!

The ghosts of relationships past!

 

Here’s a question for you readers…would you invite your ex or your partner’s ex to your wedding? I only ask because this week, it was reported that the UK’s Princess Beatrice has invited her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s ex-girlfriend to their wedding! How very grown up of her.

  Now apparently, Bea’s hubby-to-be was engaged to this ex, (interesting), and, (even more interesting), they have a two-year-old son together. So I suppose in this type of situation the invite makes sense, especially if the couple want the child to be a part of their big day. You see, if you split up and share young children together, extending an invitation might be a good idea, because it can show the kiddies that, even though mammy/daddy have moved on from each other, they’re still united when it comes to their commitment to the family they created together.

  However, for those who have an ex or three floating around, (and let’s face it, you’ve split up with them for a reason, meaning they should be well gone, along with any fleeting flashback moments), with no kids attached, then you should cut them from your list. Why? Because your wedding day is not an opportunity to dress up and show your ex what he/she missed out on! And bear this in mind folks, if there’s a drop of alcohol taken, (and there will be), and he/she’s the teary-eyed drama queen who can’t cope with his/her former squeeze being betrothed to someone else, then it’s very likely that there will be trouble! Look, you’re no longer an item; you’re donezo…accept it, and, if you’re a reader who unexpectedly receives an invite to the one-who-got-away’s-wedding, my advice is to tick the ‘enthusiastically decline’ box and move on! He/she’s someone else’s problem now!

I’m free…kinda!

 

Finally…I’m free! (Kinda; I still have a slight limp and temporarily need one crutch). But, yippee; after nearly thirteen weeks incarcerated in a child’s fracture boot, (I’m only 5’ and my shoe size is a four, meaning the adult boot came over my knee), I’m now back to wearing a shoe on my left foot! Mind you, it’s a horrible, sensible, ‘healthy’ walking shoe, that, together with its partner, while intended to provide me with a bit of stability, is really only providing me with a severe pain in my pride!  

  Now okay, I know that ‘flats’ are currently enjoying their moment, with the fashion pendulum swinging towards ‘comfort’, so you could say I’m on trend. But seriously, as a short woman, being told I need to wear a shock-absorbing low, broad-based heel for the foreseeable future is proving to be sole-destroying (pun intended). I can tell you I feel more frumpy than fashionable. I cannot wait for the day when I slip into a pair of leg-elongating, place-my-ass-on-a-pedestal stilettoes, and I’ve no doubt that, with the help of Rachael, my fabulous physio in Castlerea, I’ll be cutting up that rug at the office Christmas party. (Apologies for mentioning the ‘C’ word).

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Do you avoid unruly kids and clueless parents on planes?

 

 

 

I used to think that unless my name was Miriam Aer Lingus, and my logo was spread across the carrier’s fleet of aircraft, I’d never be able to book an exclusive airline seat as far away from bold kids and their totally oblivious parents as was humanly possible! But, joy of joys, last week, Japan Airlines announced it had proudly launched a tool on their booking site showing a seat map pinpointing where all the babies/toddlers/families were sitting – so other travellers can choose whether or not they wish to be near them! Yeeesss! Oh please, please let Aer Lingus, (the only carrier I’ll fly with, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the patient staff at East West Travel, who’ll confirm that), follow suit!

  Now before you get annoyed, let me assure you that I’m not entirely intolerant of kids on planes. Most kids are well behaved, and it’s often their parents who could benefit from being disciplined! The last time I went on holiday I had to endure a four-hour flight with, (and I’m being very diplomatic here), a disruptive four-year-old who thought kicking the back of my chair and pulling my hair was all part of the inflight entertainment package!

  And yes, I did ask the unruly little monster to stop! I did demand that his parents take control of him. However, popping a sleeping pill, mammy made it clear she was relinquishing the care of her child to a plane-load of passengers, viewing us as her personal babysitters, leaving me with no option but to shoot dagger stares at the dad. Mind you, given the kid ignored daddy’s meek little pleas, unbuckled his seat belt, banged his food tray up and down and ran screaming through the plane while mammy snored blissfully, it was clear the flight wasn’t going to go well.

  And, when the kid’s response to daddy (whose attempt at parenting was to clear his throat, twitch nervously and beg his son to “be a good boy”) was to tell his father to “shut up, stupid,” I knew no amount of complimentary prosecco was going to cut it! Therefore, much to my own hubby’s mortification, I stood up, glared at the father and loudly informed him the jellyfish I once nearly stepped on at Dollymount Strand possessed a stronger spine than he did! Yep, poor hubby nearly choked on his coffee, but the rest of the flight applauded, and mammy snored like a chainsaw!

  Now I know that families are entitled to travel with their children – of course they are. And sure wasn’t I once a parent of small children myself? However, I never took them on a flight until they were over five years’ old and could behave in an appropriate manner. And I’m not saying I want a library-silent, no-whinging flight, folks – nay, that’s totally unfair on little travellers, but I do expect to sit on a flight without being assaulted and battered by a four-year-old accompanied by a clueless mother and a cowardly father.

  Of course folks, I do realise there are some children who may misbehave due to no fault of their own, whether this is a physical or an emotional issue, and in this instance I’m actually the first to step up and offer the parents my assistance and my full support! Indeed, I understand that the interior and the confines of an aircraft can prove to be an unnatural and scary environment for many kids, especially when the change in air pressure can be painful on their ears. And to this end, crying and fidgeting are to be fully expected; however, bear in mind that a decent and caring parent will know what to do in order to comfort their child. They will not, as the kid on my flight’s parents did, consume alcohol and a sleeping pill and renounce all responsibility of the child to a cranky aul biddy like me, (mammy). Nor will they be terrified of their kids, allowing the little tearaways dictate the state of play, and assault a fellow passenger, pulling lumps out of their hair as a form of personal entertainment, (daddy).

Well done Ballintubber, you did Roscommon proud

Is your teenager boldly going nowhere? Not to worry; send them down the country to ‘Brat Camp’ – that’ll sort them out. Yep, I’m talking about RTE’s ‘Raised by the Village,’ the patronising TV programme that, in my opinion, permits producers to deceptively give viewers the impression that most Dublin teens are on the road to wreck and ruin! They’re not! Okay, I’ve said my piece. 

  And, even though I’m unhappy with the overall hypothesis of placing a focus on ‘troubled Dublin’ teens, I’ll admit that the way in which Warren from Lucan and Jordan from Darndale were welcomed and mentored by the lovely Garvey and Carley families from Ballintubber gladdened my heart. I’m proud to be their neighbours!

  Both of these families were the real deal; nurturing, loving, honest, hard-working folk, and I can see why they were chosen as mentors. And weren’t their kiddies delightful!

  In fact, I cried when Warren, who I’m sure really is an engaging young man, (once he has been given some direction and responsibility), enjoyed his time with the Garveys so much, he wanted to stay! Bless him. And by the way, how stunning is Mrs. Garvey; was that woman a supermodel in a former life?

  And, when it came to Jordan’s fabulous talons, addiction to fashion and severe allergy to getting out of the leaba, I was sure the Carleys would have their work cut out for them. I mean, given the attitude, it was safe to assume Jordan’s possibly a long-lost relative of the over-indulged Kardashian clan! But no…John and Caitriona lovingly stage-managed madam’s ‘won’t do’ attitude beautifully. And by the way, how friendly are the folk in Kenny’s shop? What a lovely place to work! Any jobs going? Mind you, I’d struggle with the till!

  Indeed readers, having allegedly been subjected to a diet of fast food, questionable designer clobber, acrylic nails, iPhones and er, bare-faced cheek, the teens were, under the guidance of the genuinely decent people of Ballintubber, fully deprogrammed. And, at the end of the show, viewers got a sense that, having tasted a slice of country life, the pair now have the potential to turn into decent Dubliners.  I admire everyone in the village of Ballintubber for playing their part in these teenagers’ lives, and I could visibly see the transformation taking place. Oh, I have to mention the delightful Roscommon Mart auctioneer Hugh Mulvihill, whose kind gesture of sharing his commission with Warren was, for me, the highlight of the entire episode – for the simple reason that one act served to give that kid a sense of worth and a sense of pride. Comhghairdeas Hugh; you’re a diamond!

 

 

Is gender neutral parenting a novelty fad?

 

 

 

 

As a parent, I have to say that while I’m extremely tolerant and understanding of the overall concept, I think insisting on raising a child gender neutral without giving that child a choice is a bit over the top. There, I’ve said it. Now I apologise if I’ve upset any of my lovely readers who may, (like UK parents Jake England-Johns and Hobbit Humphrey), have decided to keep their kids’ genders a secret in order to protect them from “the gender bias that society places on children”.  

  Look, I salute these parents, and fully respect their right to raise their children in this way, but…have they taken society’s gender bias issues a bit too far? I only ask because I’m personally at odds with the whole coercive parenting trend, and I do wonder if this couple and those of their ilk are simply buying into some fashionable fad. If this is the case, isn’t it possible that this brand of parenting may create a heap of awkward predicaments and confusion for their child(ren) down the line?

  To be honest, when my girls were small, I suppose I took a pragmatic approach to parenting by eliminating the stereotypical gender-specific items. That’s to say, when it came to toys, I was just as happy buying them so-called male-associated train sets or trucks and dressing them in blue dungarees and shirts, as I was buying them Barbie dolls and prams and slipping them into pink princess dresses. Like most parents, I encouraged my girls to play football and enrolled them in the local GAA team just as quickly as I enrolled them in ballet and drama classes. And, had I given birth to two boys, I’d have done the same with them. Yes, if any son of mine wanted to play with a doll I’d have bought him one – and God help anyone who sneered or made a negative comment. 

  However, unlike the England-Johns-Humphrey family, I would never have denied my kids the right to know or to embrace their specific genders, because to my way of thinking, a person’s gender is defined by the assignment of their sex organs. It is the state of being either a male or a female.

  But I also understand and fully accept that for many, gender is not a case of simple biology. Therefore, thankfully, due to changes in society’s shifts and mindsets, those who have been living in turmoil and are at odds with their gender and who wish to choose it for themselves can now do so without fear of isolation or exclusion.

  In fact, if my granddaughter came to me tomorrow and said I want to identify as gender neutral nana, I’d be delighted for her. I’d hug her, tell her how much I adore and love her and congratulate her on making her decision. I’d encourage and support her to explore her choices without fear of restrictions. And you know why, readers? Because it would be her decision, not her mother’s, and not anybody else’s…hers and hers alone. She’s 12 years’ old, she’s well into puberty, and because we’re an all-inclusive, compassionate family, she knows the full facts of life, (not the ‘babies are a gift from the stork’ Disney version). And I’d feel that we, as her supportive family, had done a good job of raising an independent child who can and who does, (because she’s allowed to), make her own choices.

  I’m enormously respectful and I fully embrace gender neutrality, and gender non-conforming. I see it as a person’s right to choose. What I don’t embrace, and what I will never support, is a parent(s) who believes it’s their right to coercively raise a child as if he/she were some form of experimental clone used to stick their own two fingers up to society. No parent, and I don’t care how fashionable they think they are, has a right to refer to their child, (who is a human being), by the pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’, or in some instances as an ‘it’, as is now trendy.

  In fact, I found it very difficult to roll my eyes back into the forward position and keep my big mouth shut when I overheard a woman in my daughter’s salon say she was expecting a ‘theybie’. Yes, apparently that’s a label some supercool parents are placing on their unborn/new-born, clearly forgetting that there’s an innocent little individual human at the centre of their pregnancy…a beautiful  individual whose mental wellbeing, and whose physical and emotional needs must, whether they decide to  identify as male, female or as gender neutral, be treated as a priority and not as some chic novelty fad.

 

On yer bike…and support Western Alzheimer’s Roscommon!

 

When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, their condition can have a major impact not just on the patient themselves but on their entire family, causing emotional and financial stress, as well as care issues, to name but a few. Indeed, as a dementia diagnosis can be both devastating and heartbreaking, having someone who can provide our families with sensitive and social support as well as being able to offer assistance regarding the range of services available within our communities is vital.

  With that in mind readers, I’d like to ask any bikers among you if you’d be so kind as to support a local Motorcycle Run taking place on behalf on the Western Alzheimer’s Society’s Roscommon voluntary committee organised by the lovely, caring Roscommon bikers. Now, despite the fact I’m considered a woman who never misses an opportunity to get her leg over, (my bike…calm down), I’m annoyed that on this occasion, due to being incapacitated in a surgical boot, I’m unable to take part! 

  However, for those of you who are available, the charity run leaves Hannon’s Hotel on the Athlone Road this Sunday (29th) at 11 am sharp. Registration starts at 10 am; it’ll be €20 per bike, and your route will take you through the lovely counties of Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and back home to Roscommon.

  All funds raised are in aid of the wonderful angels who are part of the Western Alzheimer’s Roscommon Voluntary Committee, with organisers assuring me that “everyone will be fed!” 

 

Subscribe to this RSS feed