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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Guilty…of fraud in the first degree!

 

 

‘Last night he was dreaming, he was locked in a prison cell’…

  Yes readers, his legal team may have put up a good fight, but, following a lengthy 16-week trial, held at Dublin’s Circuit Criminal Court, last week, a jury consisting of nine men and three women, wouldn’t go for his story; they wouldn’t hear his plea, and they convicted former Anglo Irish Bank CEO David Drumm, pictured right, of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting charges.

  It took 10 hours and 32 minutes of deliberations to find Drumm had conspired with ex-bankers Denis Casey, Willie McAteer and John Bowe to defraud depositors and investors with their dishonest dealings. 

  As we know, the State’s case was that Drumm had artificially inflated figures by circulating €7.2 billion between Irish Life and Permanent and Anglo Irish in an attempt to create the illusion the bank’s customer deposits base was much stronger than it actually was.

  Drumm, who presents as being so arrogant he’s in danger of drowning in a puddle of his own smugness, and who the court heard, had referred to the financial regulator as “Freddie f**king Fly”, saying that he intended to go to “that f**king shower of clowns down in Dame Street” in order to seek emergency funding for the bank, clearly thought he didn’t need to face the music. Nor did he need to take responsibility for his illegal actions, in his view. And so, in the wake of the bank’s implosion, this criminal legged it like a coward to set up shop and live in the lucrative, upmarket suburb of Wellesley in Boston Massachusetts!

  Meanwhile, the country struggled with job losses, with many of us being forced to  eke out a meagre existence following massive wage cuts, (yet still having to pay the same bills/loans/mortgages and living expenses, etc.), due to this privileged prat’s actions, (because, according to the prosecution, Drumm was “the man who called the shots”). Anglo was then nationalised in a move that cost you, me and every other tax-paying sucker a whopping €29 billion.

  So readers, you’ll forgive me when I say I did a happy dance around my kitchen when I heard the verdict.

  However folks, I have to ask, 10 years on from this financial holocaust, are we about to make the same mistakes all over again?

  Each week we’re getting repeated warnings that our systems are not robust enough. Sure wasn’t it only last week, (as Drumm was being found guilty), we heard the OECD warning that “some signs of overheating are emerging” in our economy; expressing a concern around the pace of lending growth, alerting that it was “increasing sharply” and there was a distinct risk of “another property bubble associated with a strong surge in credit growth”. 

  Now I don’t know about you, but I cannot go through another recession, because the one we’ve just struggled through has left me with deep emotional as well as financial scars, as I’m certain it has left many others, and, even though Maths was never my strong point, it’s clear to me that Paschal Donohoe, as  Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure, needs to take heed of where our finances are going and start budgeting instead of carelessly passing out our cash like snuff at a wake and using it for political spending, i.e. buying votes.

  Seriously Paschal, this country cannot make the same mistakes over and over again and expect a different outcome…it’s not possible. Cop on! Yourself, Leo, Simon C, and back-up Simon H, and the rest of the Muppet Show must stop focusing on your Coalition options (sure you’re romancing so many ‘possibilities,’ it’s like an embarrassing episode of First Dates Ireland), and instead prioritise prudent fiscal planning and budgeting because what this country needs right now is to show a surplus, and not how photo fabulous Leo looks when meeting Olly Murs!

 

What Katie needs to do next…

 

Anyone else think Katie Taylor’s press release regarding the horrendous shooting at Bray Boxing Club was a tad disingenuous?

            Her heartfelt condolences to the grieving family of innocent bystander Bobby Messett were spot on. My thoughts are with them. May Mr. Messett rest in peace.

  However, Katie’s line saying she has had ‘no contact or association whatsoever with Bray Boxing Club since 2015,’ kinda annoyed me. As did her dig at the media, where she says, “I have been appalled by the misuse of my name and image during the reporting of this incident in the media coverage, it has been reckless and irresponsible, and a deliberate attempt to inappropriately leverage my name to sell a story’. 

  First of all Katie, let me tell ya love, YOU are the story, and you had no problem being the story, and indeed were very happy to be the story and be fully associated with that gym/boxing club when it was built especially for you by the tax-paying public, in order that you could pursue your boxing career.

            However, if I were someone who reads between the lines (and I am), I’d assume that distancing yourself from the gym is pretty specific and raises more questions than it actually answers…interesting!

  Anyhow brand Katie, (‘cos that’s what you are isn’t it…a brand), while you’re a great role model for young people, my advice to you is to work on your memory as well as your boxing skills and never forget where you came from or the tax-paying public who helped you get to where you are now.

Are new name and shame laws a good idea?

 

Big gold star goes to Communications Minister Denis Naughten, who has, for the past six years, been calling for the introduction of electronically tagging sex offenders when they leave prison.

  The Government has approved the legislation which will allow the monitoring of registered sex offenders’ movements which could see schools and neighbours being told the name, address and identity of ‘high risk’ perverted ex-cons who’re living in their area, and who will pose a  threat.

  Now while this move is controversial, I have to say well done to Minister Naughten for pushing the initiative.

  However, if these draft amendments to the Sex Offenders Act 2001 are passed by the Oireachtas, I imagine the move will receive criticism from the do-gooders in the bleeding-heart-brigade, and the members of the save-the-sex-offender club!

  Then again, (playing devil’s advocate here), there’s a danger this naming and shaming of offenders could lead to them going underground for fear of potential vigilantism, so I’d imagine there are issues regarding the practicalities of this proposed plan…but hey, it’s a start.

 

No disclosure, no truth and no transparency leads to treachery

Carlsberg don’t do conniving, deceiving, scheming, murky scandals…but if they did, Ireland might be their biggest seller! Neither, BTW, does Carlsberg do nicely, nicely, softly, softly ‘revelations’.…but if they did, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone would win the prize for her use of sanitised, flattening and understated language when describing the historical adoption impropriety relating to 126 babies (most likely only the tip of the iceberg) in Ireland as being “incorrect registrations”. 

  I was personally impressed by the look of utter shock displayed on Ms. Zappone’s face during her press communiqué, appearing as if this disclosure was all a shocking and surprising piece of news to her. Perhaps Carlsberg should do best actress gongs and award her one!

  Now readers, I’ve got great respect for Minister Zappone, but at the centre of this scandal are 126 (at least) human beings and their families, and, as my mouth is not a bakery, so I don’t ever sugar-coat, nor do I put jam on anything, unlike the Minister, I’m gonna tell it like it is! The State hawked, trafficked, stole and sold babies; babies who are human beings and Irish citizens and collaborated in illegal adoptions; something which is a criminal act.

  In addition, does anyone else feel this ‘revelation’, coming hot on the heels of the massive Yes vote, has a kind of cruel irony to it? Of course this is not a ‘revelation’ at all; not to me, and not to countless others. You see, a close family member was illegally adopted, something which I discovered accidentally when I was just 17 and I was carrying out painstaking research (in the days before the World Wide Web), and I began exploring my family’s origins.

  You see, I was sure I was adopted myself. I’m not, but due to feeling totally out of sync with my family, okay, with my own mother, during my analysis, I made a disturbing discovery. Anyhow, this is not entirely my story to tell, but it does involve me, and I will be pushing and pursuing this outrageous, immoral and unethical act until I receive full disclosure because, due to my family member’s illegal adoption all those years ago, news of which I had to break to them, (bear in mind I was only 17), like everyone, I have a right to know who I am and where I come from.

  Of course there was a father involved in all of these tragic cases. These unfortunate women whose babies were stolen were not all bestowed the virtues of a miraculous immaculate conception. There are men, cowardly deserters handed get-out-of-jail-free cards who abandoned, shunned and neglected these pregnant women; who washed their hands of them, forsaking them to the fate of criminal baby snatchers, who sold their infants to the highest bidder through a thriving network across a black market adoption ring, i.e. the Catholic Church and the State!

 

We are never, ever,

ever…getting back together!

 

She may be a 10-time Grammy award winning performer but Taylor Swift certainly won’t win any prizes for her geographical skills, or should I say, lack thereof! In advance of the warbler’s June 15th Croke Park gig, Katy Perry’s nemesis, @taylowswift13: posted via Instagram, ‘I missed you UK! We’ll be back to see you SO soon on the Reputation Stadium Tour at Etihad Stadium in Manchester (June 8 and 9), Croke Park in Dublin (June 15 and 16), and Wembley Stadium in London (June 22 and 23)!’ 

  Ooookaaayy…deep breath…we are NOT British!

  Now, here’s a brief history lesson for you Taylor. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Let me clarify that I mean no disrespect to my lovely British pals, my British readers or my darling hubby; but, for centuries, the British threw their weight around trying to build an empire. One of the countries they targeted was Ireland. Why? Well, probably because everyone loves the Irish and maybe those fierce, fighting chaps just wanted a little piece of that luurrrvee action; maybe they just needed a big hug. However, they soon realised that oppressing us, starving us and murdering us, was not the way forward; especially as we fought back with everything we had. 

  However, despite the fact there once was ‘bad blood’ (see wha’ I did there Taylor?), we’re all friends now, and we love our neighbours, those jolly, terribly polite bad-ass Brits. 

  But, just in case my little lesson has gone completely over that cute blonde mane of yours Tay-Tay, let me put it in the words of your own songs…We, (the Irish), ‘got smarter’. We ‘got harder in the nick of time,’ and we kicked ass and rebelled. So, while ‘the world moves on, another day, another drama, drama,’ when it comes to our relationship with the UK…how can I put it? Oh yeah…‘We, are never, ever, ever…getting back together!’

  Yes, we forgave the British, we’re good like that; and we love them. Sure it’s all water under the bridge now isn’t it. But, for future reference Tay-Tay, if you, or anyone else ever decides to make that massive cock-up again, and think it’s okay to lump us, (a different country, a different nation, with our own unique language and identity), in with being part of the UK, let me assure you that ‘I’ve got a list of names and your’s is in red… underlined! Geddit love? Enjoy your visit to our Emerald Isle; I’m sure your Reputation Stadium Tour will be amazing.

 

 

Ladies, let’s stop being victims and let’s empower ourselves

 

 

We need to talk about violence towards women. We need to make sure every woman living in this country (and in this county) is safe. We need to examine the way in which (some) men act towards women and we need to do it as a matter of urgency.

  I only say this readers because, as you are aware, over the past few weeks two young women have lost their lives in the most violent situations imaginable. Jastine Valdez, a 24-year-old woman, was snatched off the street in broad daylight in the picture postcard town of Enniskerry, County Wicklow in a scene reminiscent of the movie Taken, and tragically murdered. This horrific act occurred in the same week a 14-year-old child, Ana Kriegel, was allegedly sexually assaulted and savagely murdered in Dublin. A 13-year-old boy, (himself a child) has been charged with this most heinous of crimes.

  Now, while both of these grisly and harrowing incidents occurred far from our beautiful, and, let me state, safe county, and while occurrences such as these are highly rare and isolated, we need to address the issue without delay.

  It’s not my intention to alarm any woman, and while at the time of writing, no link between Jastine’s alleged kidnapper/murderer Mark Hennessy has been established, just take a look at these statistics and you’ll see that, since Women’s Aid began collating data around femicide back in 1996, nearly 90 per cent of the 216 women who have been murdered knew their killers. Now while this is very unsettling, (and regular readers will know I was violently attacked by an individual I’d known since I was 15 years old), we, as women, cannot have our lives governed by these facts, and we shouldn’t fear men, the majority of whom do not pose any threat to us whatsoever; but we can be more aware and more security conscious.

  As a direct response to both of these tragic murders, and to give us a ‘fighting chance,’ MMA fighter Conor McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh has offered free self-defence classes to women. So maybe that’s all we need ladies, a fighting chance, some sort of tactic that allows us to think fast, react differently and hopefully give us a window of escape. You see, the would-be attacker/kidnapper will always have the upperhand because he’ll depend heavily on the element of surprise. However, if we are always aware of our surroundings and learn useful techniques by attending local self-defence classes or indeed by chatting with our local Garda Síochána’s crime prevention officer (they’re all extremely helpful), we can perhaps feel a little bit more psychologically prepared in our own minds.

  Remember ladies; whether you live in a big bustling city, a local town or a rural idyll, being aware of your surroundings and knowing some basic self-defence moves will always stand to you. Now I’m not suggesting any woman tries to morph into ‘The Bride’ character from the Kill Bill movies…just learn some technique that’ll render your attacker disoriented long enough for you to escape and seek help.

  What do ya think ladies…worth a try?

 

Should we be worried about BreastCheck?

 

Is the clinical director of BreastCheck a bit of an  alarmist, or does she have a valid point when she says the future of our national breast screening programme is at risk? I mean, it’s a bit unusual  to have an eminent Professor like Ann O’Doherty openly disclosing, in such an alarming (and public) manner, that she’s concerned litigation costs will get so high, they’ll actively threaten the wonderful BreastCheck programme.

  Now while I do understand the threat of litigation is always hanging like a dark spectre, this type of scaremongering really concerns me, especially as I’m a woman whom, like others, depends heavily on this excellent programme; which by the way, is not a diagnostic tool, but by providing free screening, it’s saving lives through trying to locate early signs and changes that could potentially lead to cancer occurring in the breast, allowing women to undergo vital lifesaving treatment. 

  In light of Prof. O’Doherty’s concerns, does this mean we should be anxious regarding other health screening programmes being rolled out by the State? Perhaps the so-called ‘Scally Scoping’ inquiry should put every single cancer screening initiative under scrutiny, examining and dissecting  every miniscule, imperceptible threat possible because once again, women’s health and wellbeing could potentially be at risk.

Well done to d’lads

Forgive me readers for I have sinned…again! Last week, whilst diligently working away – well, okay, I was festering on the sofa in my distinctly average slippers, t-shirt and leggings, drinking strong coffee, and trying hard to rid my mind of the sarcastic innuendos it kept throwing up to describe the way Dáithí Ó Sé (mis)reads the autocue. Seriously, has this otherwise lovely chappie got a PhD in gibberish? But I digress, however, cue the Mean Girl head tilt, – cos I’m gonna be caustic.

  What I’m trying to say is I tuned in again momentarily, (while I had my coffee) to ‘Today with Maura and Dáithí’ who were both  grating away in voices more irritating than celebrity cook Rachel Allen slaughtering the word butter…or should I say ‘baaaattterrrr’. And, as I happened to catch the word ‘Roscommon’ being mentioned, my interest was instantly piqued. I paused d’telly and rewound long enough to catch three mucho handsome local lads modelling some very dapper Debs outfits. So, to Kealan and Michael from Ballaghaderreen and Adam from Boyle, well done to you lads, the three of yez were only massive! You’re all a credit to the mammies who reared yez!

Abortion: Is it the most burning moral issue of our generation?

 

 

 

At the time of writing, and as campaigning continues on behalf of both sides who were desperately hoping to target the undecided voter, the Sunday Business Post/Red C poll indicated that ‘56% are in favour of voting to repeal the Eighth Amendment’. This would suggest the ‘Yes’ camp is slightly ahead of the ‘No’ side.

  Now it is not my intention to preach to readers, nor indeed would I ever advocate here for either side, or even hint as to where I personally stand on this highly emotive and divisive issue. You see, even though this column is based on my ‘musings’, when it comes to this particular referendum, I do not wish to blur the lines between what is, and what always has been entrenched in my heart, and on my conscience, (directly in relation to this referendum’s subject matter), and what is considered to be fair and objective comment; meaning, before Ireland, and indeed our beautiful Roscommon goes to the polls, I’m not airing my viewpoint on this specific issue inside the pages of what I believe to be this unbiased and wholly fair, balanced and objective family publication.

  I will say though that those who’re close to me are in no doubt whatsoever regarding my thoughts on abortion and those friends who have changed their profile pictures on social media, (they are entitled to do so) and bombarded me with slogans, leaflets, and targeted efforts to try to force me to get on board with their campaign – (not entitled to do this, and foot soldiers for both sides are guilty of this manipulative behaviour), have all been told to pee off! Okay, I used less ladylike language.

  I have been sent numerous private messages with what you could deem as persuasive images and arguments from both sides by friends; many of whose notifications I have ‘rested’ until after this referendum; some have been ‘blocked,’ (ah the beauty of FB’s block button), because I will not be bullied or harassed into allowing anyone to attempt to reform, modify or reshape my mind, and my conscience. Campaigners knocking on my door (from either side) are shown the gate!

  My own social media profile picture remains the same as it always has, and every so often I will place a ‘like’ on what I feel to be a fair or balanced post, or indeed I will share and make a comment on my own status regarding something that has resonated with me, but I will not engage in debate on social media regarding this referendum, nor will I change my profile picture to either reflect ‘Repeal,’ ‘Together for Yes,’ or to ‘Save the 8th,’ or ‘LoveBoth’.

  I’m a grown woman, an educated woman (I’d like to hope) and it appears that many individuals, both men and women, are displaying so much pent-up anger, (I’ve witnessed public arguments in the streets), and holding inside so much bile and bitterness, carrying so much overwhelming and heart-shredding emotion, that whatever way this vote goes, and whether you’re being labelled a so-called ‘baby killer’ or so-called ‘tyrannical religious despot,’ for your (entitled) views on this referendum, I fear, whichever side ‘wins,’ the resulting fall-out from this landmark, single political question, may prove catastrophic for us as a society overall. Good luck Ireland; I hope we get it right!

All aboard the ‘RMS Couldn’t Give a Damn!

I’ve got some questions readers….How do you tear down our health service and make it fit for purpose? How do you make major reforms to its governance structure and tailor them in such a way as to maintain a professional service? I only ask because Leo and Simon’s much-hyped ‘new era’ proposal to structurally reform the HSE as being the way forward sounds great on paper, but, ahem, isn’t it just a load of bulls**t?  You see, this is not a reform; it’s a restoration of a system that was abolished back in 2012!

  I’m personally sick of the matter of fact way this government is dealing with our ailing health service; I’m sick of the bureaucratic language contained in all of their statements, I’m sick of the patronising, ‘we know best’ attitude and the stage-managing of taxpayers’ intelligence, and I’m on to their let’s ride it out, see what happens and in the meantime, book ourselves first class tickets on the RMS Couldn’t Give a Damn!

  You fecked up folks, and telling us the board will be able to “act like a check between the executive and the Government” as if it’s a new and brilliant idea is fooling nobody. You’re backtracking to try and cover up a mistake you all made years ago!

It’s that time again…

The State exams are upon us and I want to wish every single student due to sit either their Junior or Leaving Cert the very best of luck.

  My advice would be to get some much-deserved rest; try to clear your mind of distractions and approach each exam with confidence. Once inside the exam hall, have a strategy that includes you thoroughly reading each question, then reading it again. Choose the questions you’re going to answer, and write those answers clearly and legibly, making sure they are all relevant to the questions being asked; and, where requested, make sure your notes are visible in the margins. Once the exam is over, forget the postmortem, it’s gone, it’s out of your hands. Move on and concentrate on the next paper.

  Ádh mór, bonne chance, best of luck. You’ll do great.

 

Is O’Brien ‘Sideshow Bob’ in cruel game of information suppression?

 

 

“I feel I’ve been murdered…through negligence, not just medically, but through them covering up; thinking that this is just going to be acceptable and it’s not”. Strong words, emotive words, Emma Mhic Mhathúna’s words.

  The words of a dying woman, an innocent woman, a single mother-of-five who lost her own mammy when she was just 23, and who is herself, desperately trying to stay alive. The words of a wronged Irish citizen; and words that, when I heard Emma whisper them last Friday morning during an interview with Ireland AM’s Ciara Doherty, had me running for the loo because, such was my overwhelming sadness and confounded sense of grief for this young mother and her babies, (all robbed of their futures in various ways), I thought I was going to throw up on the spot.

  You see readers, this remarkably brave and beautiful soul is just one year older than my eldest daughter, and while the fact is that Emma has found some solace in Tony O’Brien’s resignation, I personally would have nailed his ass to a desk and chair until he sang like a canary and named names. Yes, while O’Brien’s actions sicken me, I’m certain he didn’t act alone in this ‘cover-up’.

  In my opinion, O’Brien, while he’s played his part, is the ‘Sideshow Bob’ in this cruel game of information suppression. I mean, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was Minister for Health at the time of the March 2016 memo; Simon Harris was at the helm for the July 2016 one, so…did they know anything? And of course the State’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan allegedly received these damning deny, deny, deny, damage limitation documents which were executed with military precision by some heartless, inhumane muppet(s) who felt placing the legal strategy of ‘pause all letters,’ and ‘continue to prepare reaction communications response for a media headline that ‘screening did not diagnose my cancer,’ was the perfect PR master-plan to use when dealing with the potential loss of lives.

  As a former PR advisor, I can tell you Tony and back-up Tony, (or should I say Dumb and Dumber), the first rule of communications is to know your audience, the second rule is to be honest and open and full disclosure is always the best policy, because someone will invariably scope you out. I can’t wait to read Dr. Gabriel Scally’s much-anticipated end of June report. I’m also very interested to see how the Gardaí and the DPP will follow up on Emma’s formal complaint which was delivered via what she says was “a three-hour statement saying I wanted arrests made for attempted murder on my life”. 

  Now let me make it clear folks, from a legal point of view, the onus would be on this tragic young woman who is fighting for her life, to prove the individual(s) or subject(s) of her complaint knew that she (in particular) wasn’t told about her false negative test results and that they were fully aware that she (in particular) should have been informed about them.

  I’d like to add that despite everything that’s occurred, and that continues to occur, because by the time you read this, I’ve no doubt the scale of this unbearably sad human tragedy may further escalate, I’d still advise my daughters (and all women) to try and feel a sense of security that the CervicalCheck screening programme, which scans for asymptomatic cancerous abnormalities, is working in so much as it has saved an awful lot of lives. So once again, do not be afraid to have your smear test.

Why parenting is a tough job!

When it comes to raising kids, it’s an uphill battle. The little cherubs come into this world knowing how to conscientiously manipulate mammy and daddy, (and Nana), and it’s up to us, as the adults in charge, to keep them safe and raise them in such a way they don’t turn into sociopaths with poor posture and an ‘excuse me, can I speak with the manager’ haircut (I’m joking).

  Now this can be difficult, given the passive-aggressive, exaggerated guff that often spews forth from some social media posts, leaving anxious parents worrying they don’t stimulate their kids enough. As in they’re petrified Mini Me is now a 40-year-old living in the attic, still trying to get her edible make-up business off the ground because they accidentally laughed out loud when she repeated a swear word at 18 months! 

  Or worse, they’ve over-stimulated and over-indulged her and she ended up like self-confessed 16-year-old ‘Beverly Hills brat’ Nicolette Grey, whose mother Nina hands her a monthly pay cheque of $5,000, (€4,180.00).  

  This mother/daughter duo appeared on TV3’s This Morning last week, with mammy revealing she gave the gobby, disrespectful teen a no limits credit card because it was “time she fended for herself”.  That’s not fending for herself you dope, that’s sponging and you’re encouraging it.

  I have to agree with your daughter when she accused “You caused this so you have to deal with it”. And my advice to mom would be to lock this s**t down now lady and teach that little wasp you’re raising the value of money, how to be accountable, and, most importantly, how to be a grateful, functioning human being. While I don’t like this 16-year-old’s attitude, I place the blame for her selfish behaviour and her need for a stylist, personal trainer and publicist firmly on the type of parenting she’s received.

  Dear God Mammy, when your child says “My bags are my friends,” demands a ‘$231,000 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen’ for her 16th birthday and is in the habit of calling other people “peasants”, it’s time to admit, when it comes to parenting, that you’re pretty gormless!

 

‘Sorry’ doesn’t absolve blame and heal all wounds

 

 

Another week, another grovelling HSE apology. This time the fawning, too little, too late “we’re very sorry” centred on the findings of a 2015 commissioned report concerning maternity services at Portiuncula University Hospital which examined the delivery and neonatal care of 18 babies between 2008 and 2014. Six of those little angels sadly died; another six have various medical issues, some of which are life-changing.

  I must stress that when no complications presented themselves at this hospital, everything appeared to go well, and everything ended well for patients; but when the going got tough, and things got complicated, the entire maternity care system appeared to come tumbling down, resulting in unspeakable tragedy and heartbreak for many parents.

  Now readers, as a nation, we’re an easygoing and forgiving race, and, if someone issues us with what is a sincere apology, we tend to regain our composure, accept it and politely move on. However, given the revelations around what are a series of grave and profound litany of medical screw-ups, I have to ask if perhaps the HSE might like to consider employing someone to sit in a back room and compile a future list of recipes for reliable apologies, because I for one am very concerned and wonder if any of us can ever again feel confident when receiving medical care.

  You see, medicine is a specialised field, and we, the patients, place ourselves in the hands of what we believe to be expert professionals, and depend on them to do what is best for us.  However, while the level of our dependency on those whizz-kids in white coats is acute, it appears, given the recent botch-ups, the level of their responsibility towards us is not commensurate; and if I were of a suspicious nature (and I am), I’d have to assume that there is a culture of medicine in this country that is, in itself, very, very unhealthy.

  At this point I must add that there are, of course, decent people working within the HSE and an awful lot of good work is being done, and we should acknowledge that fact.  However, a lot of rot is still simmering underneath. In order to get rid of the stench of that decay our country needs to see systemic change in both the government and the HSE senior management, because put simply, due to their lack of candour, clarity, accountability and disclosure to us, (patients and voters), it’s clear we cannot trust either and that dear readers, is a damning indictment against our society.

Pedal power and mischievous minions…

Don’t forget, this Sunday, RosFM will proudly present their Pedal Powered Cinema fundraiser in the Dr. Hyde Centre, Athlone Road, Roscommon. The feature movie extravaganza will be Despicable Me 3. I’m told doors open at 2 pm, and the big picture begins at 3 pm.

  Entry is free folks, and so is the raffle, but do drop in a donation or two. And by the way, hard-working volunteers are not your free babysitters, so keep those darling little cherubs supervised at all times. 

Why I believe our Gardaí should be armed

Last week, during what I can only describe as a moment of weakness, (call it decrepitude brought on by menopause), I tuned into Today with Maura and Daithí! And don’t you dare judge me, because I’ll bet one or two of you have also had the odd lapse of common sense and delved into the murky waters of mundane daytime telly; so park it and let’s move on.

  Anyhow, the debate du jour centred on whether or not our Gardaí should be armed. Now for me, this a no-brainer and I believe that yes, frontline Gardaí should be armed with some sort of protection. If ever proof were needed to back up my beliefs, it’d be last week’s incident involving a member of the force up in Dublin, whom, while going about his duty, found himself being seriously assaulted by a thug wielding a metal baseball bat. Thank God it wasn’t anything more destructive.

  You see, it’s a sad and worrying fact that citizens of this country appear to have lost all respect for An Garda Síochána, and not a week goes by where we don’t hear and read about attacks on members of the public and now, more recently, on our police force. Now as it appears, (in order to do the most damage), the weapon of choice for these pieces of scum is usually a firearm, we simply cannot send frontline Gardaí into potentially dangerous and highly incendiary situations, and expect them to have any chance of resolving them, without first arming them with a means of personal protection.

  Look, I’m not saying our Government should issue firearms willy-nilly, and I do know we have a professionally trained Emergency Response Unit, but I agree with the Garda Representative Association when they say ordinary rank and file officers should be given extra protection while on duty, and in my opinion perhaps a taser would be a dinky little accessory to hang on their protective vests alongside their extendable baton and pepper spray.

  For those who disagree, let me assure you that I’m not for one minute advocating for violence here, nor am I suggesting Gardaí should go round tasering everyone who steps out of line – I mean, those stun guns emit a serious dose of electricity, causing temporary paralysis – so proper training and procedures around skill, accuracy and most importantly attitude must be put in place. We want to make sure our Gardaí thoroughly assess each incident and that if the situation warrants it, they will always reach for the least lethal weapon in their arsenal.

Why is our health service failing women?

 

 

At the time of writing, and as the cervical cancer outrage intensifies, a HSE delegation  was preparing to go before an Oireachtas health committee on foot of its staggering confirmation that, out of the 3,000 cases of cervical cancer notified to the National Cancer Registry in the last 10 years, just 1,482 were reviewed by the national screening programme.

  Records from CervicalCheck show out of those audited, 208 received ‘false negatives’. However, only 162 were informed of the review and 17 of these women are already deceased; (it has yet to be determined if their deaths were due to a delayed diagnosis). This means the remaining overlooked women are now at risk of being dragged into this scandalous, ongoing and escalating fallacy, which, due to someone’s colossal cluster feck-up, has now reached gargantuan proportions!

  So, this week, on behalf of myself, and, if I may,  all Roscommon women, I want to know if there is a cultural malaise permeating throughout our health service, leading to some sort of polluted thought process when it comes to dealing with our medical needs?

  You see, it’s my opinion that time and time again this country is failing women because almost every medical scandal that seeps out of the woodwork involves our gender. Off the top of my head I can think of the symphysiotomy scandal, the Anti-D immunoglobulin scandal which was contaminated with Hepatitis C; the transvaginal mesh implant scandal; and the one currently gripping us… the cervical smear shock. Enough said!

  Regular readers will know that I was monitored due to both ovarian and cervical scares, leading to an emergency total radical hysterectomy in 2012, (and, due to similar scares, I’m still monitored through BreastCheck); so I believe, hand on heart, that CervicalCheck is a wonderful initiative that, since its introduction, has managed to reduce the rates of cervical cancer by seven per cent; so have your smear tests ladies. However, due to the scandal’s time-line and my own follow-up vault smears, done in order to ascertain if any residual cells had escaped/developed, (which showed up as being clear), I’m a little concerned, and I want clarification; so I contacted the HSE ‘helpline’ on Monday. It took me an hour to get through and the service didn’t prove helpful whatsoever! A woman took my details, and, unhelpfully told me “I’ll add you to the list and someone will call you back in about a week”.  

  Something else we should know in ‘about a week,’ is the Dáil’s decision as to whether or not to make it mandatory for doctors to report issues that could potentially result in serious consequences back to patients in order to prevent delays in treatment. You see, it appears there’s been what I’d call a pervading culture where there is (allegedly) no obligation on doctors to contact patients directly to alert them to a possible medical misdiagnosis, and this suggests to me that we, as women, are kinda on a need-to-know basis, possibly implying that perhaps there are some condescending, patronising gits who feel we can’t be trusted with vital information concerning our own bodies! Now I stress some…not all, and I personally have a wonderful family doctor.

  But let me give you an example of sexist, arrogant behaviour when it comes to dealing with women and our medical health. I was petrified at the prospect of undergoing major abdominal surgery and prepared a list of questions around my hysterectomy for my surgeon in Dublin to address. The man’s reaction to what he saw as my impudence was to throw me a look so blistering it’d make an onion cry. He stood up, folded the list, slotted it into his pocket, adjusted his cufflinks, and, patting my arm, uttered, “no need to bother your head with this dear”. Then, turning to my husband, the pretentious prig tut-tutted, raised his eyes heavenward and said, “Take her home, make her a cuppa, she’ll be fine; have her here tomorrow at 2 pm”.

  I won’t repeat my response, (our editor would spike it), but suffice to say the bombastic buffoon immediately sat his scrawny ass down and swiftly addressed every one of my questions…in minute detail, rendering hubby to whisper afterwards, “I don’t think it was a good idea to call the man who’s opening you up tomorrow a conceited s**thead”. Maybe it wasn’t, but the surgery went beautifully, and my scar is barely noticeable.

  Mind you, I’ll bet not one head will roll over this ‘mistake.’ But this is not a mistake! A ‘mistake’ is sprinkling salt into your coffee instead of sugar. This is a cataclysmic crisis that’ll possibly outrageously result in the deaths of many women, and that’s a reckless disregard for both our welfare and our lives; something which I find wholly unforgivable.

Well done Kate!

It was with a small bit of jealousy and a lot of admiration that I watched Kate Middleton’s perfect post-partum photo-op last week, hours after giving birth to her third child. Now let me tell ya lads, (and the ladies will agree), pushing another human being from your body is no picnic, (I’ve done it twice), and believe me, afterwards your undercarriage can resemble a tangled mishmash of stitches that’d rival any horror scene Stephen King could think of creating. 

  And don’t get me started on my face! I mean, after I’d pushed out my second child, a ten pounder, which, due to the enormous pressure, made every blood vessel in my face, neck and shoulders burst, such was the ugly hack on me, yer wan from The Exorcist’s prospects of winning Miss Ireland looked decidedly better than mine. So it was about a month before I was ready to face the mirror – never mind a gaggle of journalists. Well done Kate!

 

How will Scouting Ireland rebuild broken trust?

 

You cannot thumb your nose at accountability. End of! And, if I could offer any words of advice to those 40,000 members of Scouting Ireland, their parents  and the 10,000 volunteers who selflessly give of their time, it would be this; brace yourselves and er.…Bí Ullamh! Yep, anyone who has ever been a Girl Guide, (me, but I was a useless one; mind you I was a patrol leader, but only ‘cos I’m bossy), or a Boy/Girl Scout, will know that both organisations use the motto ‘Be Prepared,’ or, as gaeilge, Bí Ullamh.

  Personally, I think we should all be prepared for the results of esteemed barrister Lorna Lynch’s inquiry into this organisation’s handling of an alleged sexual assault. And, while last week’s announcement saw four officers stepping aside pending the investigation’s outcome, I have to say, given this latest disclosure regarding ‘safe practice’ issues relating to child protection within the agency’s structure, I would applaud Minister for Children Katherine Zappone’s decision to withhold further funding for Scouting Ireland until she “can be satisfied the organisation’s governance standards are up to the required level”. 

  We all know there has been something of a controversy rumbling on for some time now which centres around this serious rape allegation made in 2016; and if, as it appears, there is a question mark hanging over matters relating to transparency and accountability in any organisation that deals with children or vulnerable individuals, then it must be addressed ASAP.

  It is, and always will be my view that we must protect those who may be at risk against preventable harm; this means that leaders/those in charge must be able to both identify and have a clear understanding of what constitutes risk in the first place; the end game being to put in place safety nets.  However I’d imagine that, whatever the outcome of this particular investigation, (the results of which we will no doubt receive very soon, I mean we’re told Scouting Ireland only has enough funds to last until June, so speed and accuracy is of the essence here), the organisation will have to work extremely hard to regain the trust of both parents and kids.

Sometimes it’s not good to talk ...

We need to talk about Denis…Communications Minister Naughten, that is; who, by the way, should not be forced from office, nor should he be persecuted any further for allegedly inappropriately informing a lobbyist regarding his own thoughts on a proposed merger between Independent News and Media (INM) and Celtic Media.

  The man made an error of judgement; something which we all do from time to time, only we don’t do it in the full glare of the public eye! So, get over it folks, he’s apologised; he’s offered his regrets, cut him some slack and move on; nuttin’ ta see here!

  Now, I’ve got no affiliation with Denis Naughten whatsoever, and I don’t know him personally; but my gut tells me he’s a good man, a genuine man, a man of integrity, a man who works hard and a man, who will, (if he’s allowed), continue to work hard for this county.

  But….(and I have to add this Denis), while you’re correct, you are not (none of us are) responsible for how others interpret our comments, however, if, in the future, you, in your capacity as Minister, have a “purely personal view” on any subject matter, even if it refers to that orange ball in the sky which briefly visited Roscommon last week, then keep it to yourself! 

For better or for worse!

The issue of whether or not women should consider taking the hubby’s name following marriage was debated on the Claire Byrne Show last week; making me think…ooohhhh this is gonna be intense!

  Now, while it isn’t a legal requirement, it is kind of a tradition; right? But when I first married at the age of 17, I was pressured into taking my husband’s name; however, upon our separation, I reverted back to Kerins and kept it when I re-married.

  My decision isn’t an indication I’m not fully committed to this marriage. Nor, BTW, is it part of my brutal process to ‘disrespect’ my darling husband; nor is there some conspiracy to ‘hide’ the fact I’m married; I mean we had a ceremony, we both said “I do” in front of guests and we both wear wedding bands! The clues are there Miss Marple! 

  It’s because, with my first marriage, I felt I’d lost my entire identity, half my future assets, and, as the then government replaced my RSI number with his, sticking a ‘w’ on the end to denote my status as his wife…shoulda put a ‘C’ on it for chattel; they (in my opinion), labelled me as this man’s property, eviscerating traces of my own individuality. So now ya know!

   Look, the whole name-game, whether adopting eachother’s surnames or going double-barrelled, etc., comes down to the personal dynamics of each couple; besides,  hubby says it makes no odds to him what I call myself, I’m still his wife.

 

 

Sex education: Parents need to be proactive, not reactive

 

The headline was sickening…’Cork secondary school investigates ‘rape list’ found in boys’ toilets’. The allegations sent shockwaves around the country, and so they should. Now folks, I remember a  time when writing a cheeky note to a fella or a girl you fancied in class and leaving it on his/her desk or slotting it into one of their copies was viewed as exciting and risqué; and, if I’m honest…cute. 

  However, there is absolutely nothing cute about a situation where boys allegedly single out young girls and add them to a so-called ‘rape list’ which they post on their school’s toilet wall, the end game being that the girl ‘with the most ticks will get raped’. Nay, that’s perverse, devious and highly disturbing.

  And, while I know the school at the centre of these alarming revelations has moved swiftly and is doing everything possible to deal with the wretched situation, this latest incident has come hot on the heels of another highly startling report where Gardaí are investigating an allegation that an 11-year-old boy raped a 9-year-old girl in a field over the Easter weekend. How does an 11-year-old child get to this level of sexual activity? Now while both of these alleged incidents occurred at different ends of the country, the fall-out from each will have a catastrophic and wounding effect on everyone involved.

  You see readers, it appears that in a culture which encourages ‘sharing’ information and images freely, and, the wide usage of smartphones and the availability of pornographic material, it’s clear that some kids/teens are going to believe there is absolutely nothing wrong in engaging in certain, let’s say, questionable activities; believing it’s all part of their normal sexual development.

  And while yes, being curious is definitely part and parcel of growing up, as is a heightened interest in sexual activity, coupled with trying to figure out who you are, etc., parents absolutely need to ensure that everything their child is exposed to as part of the learning process should always be age specific; with emphasis placed rigidly on consequences, because, let’s face it, no pre-teen/teen comes complete with a clear understanding of cause and effect, now do they? It’s a parent’s job to be proactive and try to recognise the triggers.

  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, and there’s nothing wrong with your teen engaging in age appropriate consensual sexual communication, so long as you, the parent, discuss everything with them beforehand; in particular the worrying upward trend of ‘sexting’ (a ticking time bomb among kids, in my opinion), and place strong emphasis on the serious consequences and pitfalls attached to it. Not to mention the emotional distress it causes for both the sender as well as the receiver. It’s time for some parents to stop using the internet as their babysitter and their kids’ teachers as their primary sex educators and moral guardians. The teacher’s job is to deliver academic skills, and while the issues around life skills, sexual relationships and gender respect should be included in the school curriculum, if you wish to educate your children regarding the onslaught they face in today’s technological revolution – especially when it comes to exposure to certain adult material – then the discussion must begin at home.

Comey turns out to be a ‘dorky dad’!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that former FBI Director James B Comey is on a book publicity tour; hawking an opus I’ll highly likely buy, simply out of nosiness.  However, I’m disappointed in his level of pettiness; a behaviour which is unbecoming of an individual who was previously entrusted to head up the USA’s federal law enforcement agency, responsible for its day to day operations. 

  My opinion of Comey lessened slightly when, speaking to ABC last week ahead of the launch of his much-anticipated tome, ‘A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies and Leadership,’ the 6’8” one didn’t come across as the cool clean hero I’d hoped he was; rather instead, he presented like a bitter, vitriolic begrudging little man as he gave a physical account of the perma-tanned one who once famously issued him with his P45!

  Now I’m not referring to Comey’s comment that Trump is “morally unfit,” to be president of the US, because I’d have to agree with him there and respond with ‘er, no s**t Sherlock, tell us something we don’t know!’ I mean, we’ve read The Donald’s erratic tweets, his latest being to label Comey a ‘weak and untruthful slimeball’…an invective one would hardly expect the most powerful individual in the world to use.

  But you see readers, while I initially thought Comey was the bigger man, and not just height-wise, but righteously, his bitchy remarks regarding Trump’s hands not being ‘as large’ as his own, and the fact his face is ‘slightly orange, with bright half-moons under his eyes,’ has diminished him (in my eyes) from the tall, dark, brooding, tell-it-like-it-is sexy specimen of everything a high-ranking, powerful law enforcement officer should be, to embarrassing dorky dad. In my opinion, Comey’s unvarnished physical description (of Trump), gave us the impression he was not quite a bona fide champion; and if I was his PR I’d advise him that until his book is on the bestseller list, while he’s doing future interviews, (no matter how half-hearted the effort might be), he should at least make an attempt to preserve his relationship with the media!

 

 

 

 

Why I’m dedicating this week’s column to the memory of Ann Lovett and her baby son

 

 

On a bitingly cold, dark, dismal January 31st in 1984 Ireland, an innocent 15-year-old went to the grotto of the Virgin Mary, and, heavily pregnant and in the throes of agonising labour, without the benefit of a soul to comfort her, lay down on the frozen, filthy ground and gave birth to a baby son. Ann Rose Lovett must have been terror-stricken. Her infant died, and, later that afternoon, tragically, so did his poor mammy. Had she lived, Ann would have been 50 last week. Her baby boy would have been 34.

  On the 20th anniversary of Ann’s death, while working for the Evening Herald, I was tasked with heading to Granard in County Longford to see, in my then editor’s words, “what the mood is like”. I made a call to Emily O’Reilly, the journalist who broke Ann’s tragic tale back in 1984, to see if she’d any words of advice. In 2004, Ms. O’Reilly was our country’s first female Ombudsman, later being elected as European Ombudsman…her advice was to wish me luck and to ”tread carefully”.

  Well folks, ‘the mood’ was hostile. It’s a painful subject for the lovely people of Granard, who told me back then, (when I identified as a journalist), that they just “want to forget”. Fair enough, but I’m personally finding it impossible to forget, and the scandal of what happened to that poor girl still covers this entire country, most especially the town of Granard, like a dense fog to this very day.

  My first port of call was to the grotto to say a prayer for the young girl who was found crying and dying in the dirt beside her infant son; who was never afforded the dignity of being named. Three days later, both were buried, fated to become two of Ireland’s tainted unmentionables; legacies of the fierce and cruel stranglehold the Catholic Church had on this nation of ours.

  My second stop was to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, its steeple clearly visible high on the hill, cloaking the town like a dark spectre. Look, I won’t go into detail regarding my visit, because I genuinely don’t wish to upset the Lovett family, or the decent people of Granard, but, following my little chat at the parochial house, I was run out of town. Yep, word spread that a nosy journalist was asking questions, resulting in staff at the accommodation where I’d planned to stay packing my bags and leaving them at reception. Apparently they didn’t have a room after all. A burly thug approached me on Main Street, and, in a threatening voice, fist close to my face, told me what would happen to me if I didn’t “get the f**k out of town”.

  I wasn’t easily intimidated and headed to Cnoc Mhuire Secondary School, the ‘caring institution’ where Ann attended, to find out just how ‘caring’ they were, and asked how staff (back then), had failed to act and help this petrified child, who sat in class each day, clearly heavily pregnant. The response (at the time) was shocking; evidence of the decades-long wall of silence dutifully erected around allegations, speculations and above all, dark, shameful secrets that nobody was willing to breach. Undeterred, I continued up the hill to Granardkille graveyard – where Ann and her baby are laid to rest – and said a prayer. It was there a local lady approached me and revealed her son (whom she insisted, and I believed her, was not the baby’s father), had befriended Ann. This lady was the only friendly face I encountered that day; and, 34 years later, on the anniversary of Ann’s 50th birthday, and while times have changed and the schools/businesses/churches, etc., employ different personnel now, no more details of her story have amassed; most notably not the identity of her baby’s father.

  Tragically, three months following Ann’s death, her teenage sister was found dead of an alleged prescription drug overdose. I wrote my story, and it was published in memory of the brave young girl who was outrageously crucified for falling pregnant outside of marriage. As someone who was herself a teenage mother in the ‘80s, (but with the benefit of a wedding ring), I dedicate my column this week to the memory of Ann and her baby son; we must never forget them. Their deaths remain our national shame because collectively, as a society, we must all be held responsible. May they rest in peace.

Scarla’ for ya McGregor

Flamboyant, outrageous, ostentatious, notorious and legendary, etc. There are many adjectives that describe MMA fighter Conor McGregor. He’s built a reputation, fortune and image around bawdy showmanship and, as a fellow Dubliner, I’ve admired him for it. But, given last week’s disgusting behaviour, let me offer alternative adjectives…vacuous, vapid, imbecilic ignoramus. To be honest, McGregor’s latest (probably) pre-planned publicity stunt, where himself and his hangers-on appeared to go on a violent rampage and allegedly gate-crash a UFC 223 media event, will likely go down as one of the most embarrassing and shameful incidents in Irish sport. According to the New York Police Department’s spokesperson, “he (McGregor) has been charged with three counts of assault and one of criminal mischief”.

  N-n-n-n-ice one Conor, you’ve managed to turn a mediocre event into a scene of utter chaos. Not exactly coola boola behaviour for one of Ireland’s most bankable and, to many, influential role models, now is it bud? I’m scarla’ for ya. How will your career ever recover from the fall-out? Ya numpty!

 

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