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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Is Rose Bud Roisín Roscommon’s future super-vet?

 

 

The 60th International Rose of Tralee festival takes place this Friday, and, while regular readers know, while I’m not a big fan of this frocky-horror-show, the thing is, when it comes to the viewing public, it appears to be somewhat of a ratings’ winner, meaning somebody must be enjoying it. So, g’wan the girlies!

  However, this year viewers from our lovely county of Roscommon are being provided with an added bonus regarding this wholesome celebration of ‘Oirish’ womanhood. Let me explain. Taking part as one of the thirty-two Rose Buds, (little ladies aged between six and ten years), is our very own little flower, Ms Roisín O’Reilly, age nine-and-a-half…with the half being very important!

  In a nutshell, Roisín, who hails from Kilbride, was chosen from hundreds of applications made by parents of children from all over Ireland and abroad; with a portion of their entry fee going to charity. Twenty-four successful applicants come from Kerry with the final eight little ladies’ spaces being allocated to other areas. However, while I wish Roisín well; and know she’ll do Roscommon proud as she accompanies the Kerry Rose over what will be four days of fun activities, I have to confess, her involvement in this event is not the main reason this child has come to my attention. Nope, rather it’s her humane and compassionate nature when it comes to animals.

  You see, in a week where we were inundated with sad news, and stories of heartbreak, tragedy and alleged thuggery, (appearing to involve Conor McGregor), I was reassured to have happened across a happy story of hope. A story involving young Roisín, a child who is, in my opinion, set to make a real difference in her community. To put it simply, when this local child is not preparing for her very important international Rose Bud festival duties, she is, even though she may not realise it, inspiring others by working hard to save animals’ lives.

  Now you all know I’m passionate about animals. Indeed, I’m not even going to pretend to be ashamed of the fact I love my dogs as much as I love my family. It’s no secret that in my world, and in my home, my four legged fur babies are my canine kids, and my two-legged human ones are fine with that. Well, they kinda have no choice!

  However, in showing my dogs, (and all animals), the love and respect they deserve, I hope I’ve managed to provide my girls, including my granddaughter, with a valuable example of responsible and humane animal welfare. I’ll go so far as to say this pattern has provided them with a merciful, empathetic characteristic, which I hope was imperative when it came to shaping them into compassionate adults. It was precisely this type of gentleness and consideration that brought young Roisín and her lovely mam Kathy to my attention.

  Indeed, from chatting with the pair I’ve got no doubt that mam, along with Roisín’s dad Noel, are raising a caring, selfless child; attributes which are clearly essential to their happy family life. Therefore, when I heard from T.N.R. South Roscommon how Roisín, who is “big into animals, especially cats,” donates her toys and her clothes as well as any unwanted gifts she may receive to this wonderful local charity to sell online and at car boot sales, I was hugely impressed. I knew immediately that not only does this child want to promote a better world for both humans and animals, she also has the confidence to do it; and that, dear readers, is most definitely worth a mention.

  I know this county is bursting with inspirational kiddies, every one of whom is impressive in their own right, and I’m not discounting them. But I’m sure you’ll all wish Roisín well as she embarks on her Rose Bud role this weekend. I know she’ll miss her “great friends” Itchy and Scratchy, a pair of adorable four-year-old semi-ferals she adopted through the T.N.R. South Roscommon programme.

  In fact, in her quest to make their little lives better, Roisín who wants to work with animals when she gets older, fashioned a fairy fort at the bottom of her garden where she plays with her fabulous feline family. As someone who believes it’s never too early to think big, I feel that in Roisín, Roscommon could well have its very own future super-vet! Watch this space.

Is it clear Ireland’s (probably) got no talent?

Despite the fact they’ve broken up and reconciled nearly as often as Friends’ characters Ross and Rachel, it seems Mayo man Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell are (allegedly) set to reunite. According to (unconfirmed) reports, our lovely Louis has signed on the dotted line and will ‘take part in the X-Factor All-Star reboot and a celebrity version of the format’ later this year. Well I for one am delighted for Louis, he’s a gentleman and, whenever we worked together during our RTÉ days, or whenever we socialised, I have to tell you I enjoyed his company enormously.

  Look, to be honest, while I’m no fan of X Factor and would rather watch an entire series of Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip in slow motion, I do believe Louis was wasted on home-grown series Ireland’s Got Talent and I’m not surprised it’s been (allegedly) scrapped by Virgin Media. I mean, let’s face it, given the calibre of contestants it was clear that Ireland (probably) didn’t have any real talent to showcase! 

  Indeed, for those of you who’ll now insist that you do actually possess a knack for entertaining audiences, my response is this…you clearly didn’t choose to flaunt it on that series now did you?

  And don’t get me started on the endless array of ‘dance troupe’ entries who seemed to churn out the same old boring routines that strangely matched their same old jaded stories about how they had no focus, and were lacking motivation and direction etc.

  But hey, when they discovered dancing, well, it miraculously saved their entire lives! Oh purleese! Then again, perhaps this is where I’m going wrong readers. Perhaps I should give up my job and instead do back flips, head spins, split leaps and scissor jumps on a TV ‘talent’ show where an audience, who really couldn’t care less about me, secretly harbour an urge to fling the remote control at the screen as I perform. Too harsh? My apologies.

My blended-family advice for Una Healy

 

 

The glitterati and the twitterati went into meltdown last week when former Saturdays’ singer and Tipperary native Una Healy’s ex Ben Foden  announced he’d married a woman he’d allegedly only been dating for two weeks. Foden and Healy were married for six years and have two children together, Aoife (7) and Tadhg (4). However, the pair split just over a year ago after he admitted cheating on her.

  Foden’s gushing ‘I’ve remarried’ announcement on Instagram generated plenty of comments, some coming from well-wishers congratulating the couple. Mind you, given the speed with which he has moved on, (i.e. before the ink had dried on his divorce papers), there has been an overwhelming feeling of surprise, and, despite the fact Foden claimed ex-wife Una had given him her blessing, understandably, a slew of scathing remarks peppered the post.

  To be honest, while I’d always wish a newly-married couple well, I do feel Foden’s line that his new wife, New Yorker Jackie Belanoff Smith, would be ‘a great step-mum to Aoife and Tadhg, and offers me a future I can’t wait to explore with her’, to be extremely crass and downright insulting to the mother of his children. But hey Una, if that’s his idea of showing you the respect you deserve, then you’re probably well rid, love!

  As someone who has been divorced, I can tell you that one of the hardest situations you will ever have to deal with is when your ex remarries; with feelings of loss and, perhaps depression taking hold as you may feel you’re being replaced. Now, granted, I’m the one who remarried. My ex is the one who had to deal with my new status of being someone else’s wife. However, he soon got over me, and is in a long-term relationship with a lovely woman, and we all get on really well together, regularly meeting up for family meals and events, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not the sickly sweet Brady Bunch (of TV renown) living a life of blended bliss, nay, we’re more like that crazy lot in TV sitcom Modern Family, i.e. having a laugh, having a drink, and being respectful of each other’s new relationships and set-ups.

  But back to Ben, Una and their kiddies. While Ben may be able to slot in Jackie as his new wife, hoping the business woman will seamlessly step into her designer stilettoes, the new Mrs. Foden will never, ever be a compensatory mother to his children…end of! Now, mind you, Jackie probably doesn’t want to even try and become a step-mother, and, let’s face it, no matter how nice she may be, I’d bet she knows only too well that she’s never, ever going to share the same bond with them as their biological mother…is she? Even though my husband has four grown-up children with his first wife, making me technically their step-mother, I’d never consider giving myself such a title. Why? Because they have their own lovely mother; the woman who raised them, and I’d never dream of insulting her standing; it’s discourteous. And sure, why would I? I have my own grown-up kids and my granddaughter. Besides, my ex’s fiancée wouldn’t dare entertain the notion that she’s their step-mother; a fact I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, because we, er, had a little chat, and, ahem, came to a mutual understanding…if you know what I mean. As in, you can have him, but don’t ever contemplate laying claim to my kids/grandkids. Point made, point taken, and an agreed civility was forged, with my territory being distinctly marked…and, so far, so good, we’re still friends. We all get on great, and, for now, we’re all living happily ever after. But my ex and I are lucky. When the divorce dust had settled, we realised that, for the sake of our children/grandchild and future grandchildren, (not to mention our sanity), we needed to turn rage and heartbreak into respect. The result being, the acrimonious and desperately painful demise of our marriage is now a healthy, friendly, civil relationship that allows us, our partners, and, most importantly, our children/grandchild to be part of a happy, functional and, what I’d gratefully call, a loving and extremely close-knit blended family.

  I wish Ben, Una, their kiddies and their new partners every future happiness possible.

 

New investment shows great faith in Roscommon’s potential

 

It’s always great to hear positive local news, and I was delighted to read about the fantastic investment confirming the multi-million euro sale of the Centre Point Retail Park in the county town, especially as it’s set to generate up to one hundred much-needed new jobs.

  So, to those who insist that rural Ireland is dead, I say you couldn’t be more wrong. You see, given this cash injection, it’s clear to me that the savvy ‘investors’ behind this wonderful new business project have enormous faith in the good people of Roscommon. This means, instead of viewing our rural communities, (and those like us), as being on our last legs, they have rightly identified the enormous opportunities and potential we have for growth, development and extensive progress; and fair play to them. Let me assure these investors that they couldn’t have chosen a better county in which to spend their millions. On behalf of everyone, I’d like, if I may, to express gratitude to  these business people for their faith and their trust in the wonderful citizens of this county who will, I’ve got absolutely no doubt, richly reward their expenditure and their innovation with the loyalty and the allegiance it richly deserves. I can tell them that, by making a commitment to our communities, they’ll not only be repaid by hard-working, dedicated locals who’ll excel in the newly-created jobs they’ll provide, they’ll also significantly contribute in order to ensure this new enterprise evolves into a sustainable business. Onwards and upwards readers!

 

Why Bigfoot look isn’t for me!

 

Well ladies, apparently, according to well-known model and activist Emily Ratajkowski, ‘it can be sexy not to shave’ your pits! Yep, in an effort to ‘empower’ women, Ratajkowski is seen posing in next month’s Harper’s Bazaar magazine donning a black bra and, er, armpits so hairy, at first glance I thought she had Chewbacca in a headlock!

  Look, I’m all for empowering women. However,  as someone who likes to shave my pits, and wax my bikini line, (because it’s what I do), I can assure you, I’ll never buy into the whole female-and-furry movement! This means, other than on my head, I will not be growing any manner of body hair to the extent I could put a bow in it. Now, I mean no disrespect to any woman who enjoys and embraces growing out their body hair, in fact I applaud them for doing it, if that’s their choice. However, for me, the whole Bigfoot look is highly unattractive. And no, it has nothing to do with me buying into the patriarchal standards being put upon women; rather it’s got everything to do with personal hygiene, my personal choice, my personal grooming and my personal refusal to allow myself kowtow to those suffocating messages being generated by a radical, heretical feminist movement.

 

 

 

How do we fix our childcare system?

 

 

 

Well folks, I hate to toot my own horn, but I think I called it correctly last week when I wrote that the country’s child protection watchdog was – and I said allegedly – unable to immediately close down high-risk childcare facilities, and this week they’ve come out and confirmed that very fact. Yes, following the fall-out of RTE’s documentary regarding the disquieting goings-on at the Hyde and Seek chain of crèches, not only has Tusla identified what it deems to be a string of ‘critical’ risk levels of non-compliances occurring in 37 crèches across the country, it has also confirmed its own toothless tiger status. In addition, the Child and Family Agency is refusing to provide concerned parents with information pertaining to the alleged offenders’ names and locations.

  However, in this instance, it’s not Tusla’s fault. It seems their hands are tied. While it has the power to deregister a childcare service, under the Child Care Act 1991, Tusla is only required to give the offender 21 days’ notice of deregistration and the right to appeal to the District Court. What this means is that when non-compliance is observed, (i.e. the unforgivable mistreatment of children as witnessed in RTE’s documentary), the agency merely has the ability to encourage improvement, as opposed to the legal statutory powers needed to enforce a closure. Wow, where’s the child protection policy there?

  So parents/grandparents/guardians, if you currently have a child or children attending a crèche/childcare facility, and you’re concerned about their welfare or indeed concerned if that facility is one of the ‘37’, here’s my advice. Sit down and write a list of those concerns; and, even if you have a good relationship with your crèche manager, insist, in a friendly manner, that he/she addresses your questions, one by one. Yes, it may be awkward, but you’re trusting this facility and paying good money for them to care for your precious child in a home-away-from home atmosphere, so, do what you know you have to do to ensure your child is safe. May I suggest you begin by asking the manager if they’ve undergone an inspection? If they have, ask them how they did. Ask to see written evidence of their results. In fact, if I managed a crèche, and it had undergone an inspection and passed, in light of recent happenings, I’d have my certificate framed inside the door for all to see. If your crèche discloses that they’ve unfortunately failed on certain issues, ask what they were, and ask when they expect to undergo their follow-up inspection. When it’s completed, ask to see the results. If they have undergone both inspections and yet still failed to comply with standards, for God’s sake, grab your child’s hand and take him/her home.

  Ring your boss, explain the urgency of the situation, and ask for a week’s leave while you arrange alternative, responsible childcare. Your boss will understand. It’s up to us as parents to place our children first, and I’m certain a grandparent, a kind neighbour, or another trustworthy adult will step up and provide you with either an emergency, or hopefully, a long-term solution.

  Again, I will add that there are fantastic childcare facilities across County Roscommon, and while this latest scandal is grossly unfair to them, I’m sure they will be delighted to address any parents’ concerns, (if they have them) regarding their professional practices. In the meantime, you could check Tusla’s Quality Regulatory Framework…for all the good that may do you. However, I understand Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is examining ways to increase Tusla’s powers where serious breaches of childcare regulations are identified. Let’s hope she does this without further delay.

 

Maybe Arlene needs to choose her side more carefully

 

As the Boris effect takes hold, a leaked UK government document is scaremongering us into thinking that a no-deal Brexit could ‘virtually stop’ cross-border agricultural trade in the North within 24 hours. Yes, quite literally overnight. And, following this, the advice from our fearless leader was that er, “We should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit”. Talk about stating the fizzin’ obvious Leo.

  Now, mind you, that Arlene Foster’s bold “dial down the rhetoric” response to our Leo wasn’t very helpful, was it? And it’s my opinion that she’d do well to wake up and share our concerns; as opposed to obtusely getting sucked into the whole Boris hype. So, with that in mind, perhaps Arlene should set aside a bit of time to consider her own party’s options and choose her side more carefully. You see Arlene, Leo is actually talking sense. Boris is merely spewing bluster. This means you’d do well to bear in mind that if farmers here are hit, it’s my view that those living North of the border, in your constituency, will likely suffer even greater losses.

  While Arlene is throwing around big words like ‘belligerent’ and ‘intolerant’ to describe our government’s reaction, let me throw one back at her…ignorance! She doesn’t seem to grasp that the reason we’re insisting on a ‘backstop or nothing’ is because it’s an insurance policy. Not just for us, but for the North too. And while Arlene actively searches for more colourful adjectives to hurl at us down here in the South, let me ask her this important question. Did it conveniently escape her notice that, as Boris visited the North for his little love-in last week, he managed to totally avoid speaking to the one group she’s apparently so concerned with, i.e. the farmers? Too busy fan-girling all over the Slum-Dodge Millionaire love?  

  But look…big picture, readers. I don’t think a crash-out is going to happen. In fact, I think old BJ will find himself facing a massive rebellion among the troops, resulting in his government collapsing, thus sparking a General Election. I mean, how can the Brits take him seriously? For God’s sake, this man’s first act as Prime Minister was to buy himself a £500 digital Brexit countdown clock to hang on the walls of his War Cabinet room! What does that tell you? It tells me that the individual the great British public has tasked with delivering Brexit is really nothing more than a stupid little boy with a novelty toy.

 

Thank you!

 

I’m sick to death of being incarcerated in a surgical boot large enough to sail down the River Shannon in! As someone who has no patience, I’d prefer to suffer acute pain and discomfort for a short period of time, as opposed to spending what I’ve been told may possibly be twelve weeks, strapped into this unsightly contraption, accessorised by a pair of clumpy crutches!

  However, as I struggle on, I’ve realised one thing, and it’s this…the people of Roscommon are genuinely decent, salt-of-the-earth folks. So, this week, can I say a massive thank you to everyone who has approached me offering their support, saying how they’d read about my tumble. Thank you to those who stopped what they were doing to open doors and carry coffee for me, etc. You’re all diamonds.

 

 

 

 

Why Boris’ battle to Brexit may prove to be his downfall

 

 

 

 

 

Well, if ever we had even a smidgen of a doubt that he was a contentious, conceited, bumptious, and, extremely divisive so-and-so, Boris’ choice of newly-appointed foot-soldiers can lay those uncertainties to rest. Yes readers, by putting together what could be considered as the most right-wing Eurosceptic cabinet in, well, possibly living history, it’s clear that Britain’s new ‘do or die’ PM’s approach to Brexit will not only prove to be erratic, it’ll also prove to be a highly toxic and damaging one. Why? Because Boris is acting like a spoiled brat who’s making unreasonable demands…that’s why! Because he’s a leader who seems to care nothing for his entire country as a whole, rather he intends only focusing on those who voted for his pathetic little pie-in-the-sky Brexit dream, meaning he’ll be a PM for a minority and everyone else can go to hell.

  Yes folks, as the power of the pound is plummeting, as the October deadline approaches, the Brexit Bulldog, who, bless him, sees himself as another Winston Churchill, is making it clear he plans to leave the EU cold turkey and anyone who doesn’t agree with him can go and stew! For those who think I’m being overly dramatic, let me tell you why I’m concerned.

  Last week, Boris’ message to the world was crystal clear; the gist being that he and his cabinet don’t care if his strategy means instability, massive job losses and food shortages, not just for us, but for everyone. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say that some observers on this side of the water could probably even worry that his bombastic rhetoric was clearly designed to instigate a direct threat to us. Well, if that’s the case, all I can say is this…be careful what you wish for Boris love. You see, if you crash out of the union without a deal, you’ll not only be damaging our economy, you’ll also be damaging your own nation’s and, for the record, we here on the island of Ireland are well prepared for your buffoonery…(we are…aren’t we Leo? Simon?). We won’t be rolling over for you, that’s for sure. Yeah, mess with us sunshine, and that romantic rollercoaster you’ve been riding to showcase your despotic personality traits is highly likely to become dramatically derailed. You might be box office gold now Boris, and you might want to take a flying jump off that cliff, but, be warned, you won’t be taking us with you. Remember this mate…you were not elected by the people of Britain, you were only elected by the Tories, and that, you vainglorious snob, will be your ultimate downfall. That explicit fact will make you the hilarious punchline to your own pathetic joke. Boris, your use of uncompromising language when discussing the UK’s exit from the EU, (which was, I assume, clearly designed to largely invite confrontation both from Ireland and the rest of Europe), will not only lead to dissension and discord among your fellow countrymen and women who voted to remain; it’ll also place your status as being the Prime Minister in a highly precarious position come election time. Now, I’m sorry, but that’s gotta stick in your craw love! That has to cause you sleepless nights. So, given the situation, let me put to you, that very same question you put to your minions last week…“Do you feel daunted?” Well, do you, Boris? And furthermore pal, here’s the sting in the tail for you…you’ll be run out of Downing Street quicker than that pair Kim and Aggie can remove that red wine stain from your girlfriend’s designer sofa!

 

 

Is controversy in our childcare sector tip of the iceberg?

 

Many years ago, around 2002, when I was an investigative reporter for the Evening Herald, I wrote an explosive exposé concerning a crèche whose childcare procedures had come to my attention. Each morning, as I drove by this service’s building and observed their ‘practices’ and, from chatting to some of its clients, I concluded I had enough cause for my suspicions to become aroused, and, ahem, set up a surveillance of sorts. What I discovered shocked me to the core. The crèche, (located on Dublin’s Northside), while on a group day trip to Bray, County Wicklow, accidentally ‘forgot’ one of their little charges, leaving him stranded alone and petrified on the beach! The little lad, who was 5 years old at the time, was lucky he came to the attention of a nearby grandmother who observed his distress and called local Gardaí.

  I also discovered the same crèche had, three weeks previously, managed to, ‘misplace,’ two siblings, (who were part of triplet brothers), when the pair got up from their ‘designated nap time’ and, unnoticed, exited through an open window, hazardously crossing a busy main road, before trotting off into their front garden. The toddlers were discovered sitting on their doorstep weeping hysterically many hours later by their horrified parents. The crèche was local to where I lived, and the owners were a husband and wife team. Sound familiar? Now, no names, no scandals, just relaying my story, and you may draw your own conclusions. 

  My explosive piece brought in the HSE, (this was before Tusla), and the Gardaí, because I reported it to both organisations; and the impact was such, the crèche was forced to close down, with the owners allegedly moving to new premises, setting up again under a different name. I became the focus of intimidation, not just from the crèche I’d exposed, but strangely, from some of the parents who accused me of closing down the only childcare facility they had in the area. Imagine? Of course I’m not easily intimidated. Many parents did knock on my door to thank me profusely for my exposé, including the dad of the little boy abandoned on Bray seafront.

  Look, my point is this; RTE’s documentary is not the first time we’ve heard about such horrors…and it won’t be the last. And I want to know…how is it that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland can hand out closure notices to establishments for poor food hygiene practices, yet Tusla, with all its power, allegedly can’t close down a crèche for sub-standard and, what I’d perceive to be, abusive childcare practices? Nope…makes no sense to me either. May I conclude that there are wonderfully caring and responsible crèche facilities across this county who’re both run and staffed by amazing, trustworthy professionals.

 

And another thing…

 

What kind of nonsense was going through Leo Varadkar’s head that made him think we’d swallow the whole slap-on-the-wrist demotion penalty dished out to Maria Bailey for her ludicrous ‘swing-gate’ claim was fair and just? And, does Leo seriously believe we endorse his conclusion that Josepha Madigan, whose legal advice was given to Bailey in her capacity as a mere TD, has absolutely nothing to answer for? Furthermore, does last week’s statement by Leo now mean he’s adding the title of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to his CV, and that he, and not the courts, will be enforcing criminal law on behalf of the people of Ireland? And oh, does it strike anyone as strange that, you and me, whose taxes likely paid for internal ‘enquiry’ will have to be satisfied with a cr***y statement from Leo as opposed to actually seeing evidence of any documentation pertaining to its outcome?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Simon’s HSE ‘shake-up’ has got me in a spin

 

 

He finally admitted  the HSE was “never fit for purpose” and promised that the shake-up of our health services would result in fewer managers overall – however, time will tell if Health Minister Simon Harris’ cunning plan to reform this hugely bloated cumbersome  organisation will succeed. Personally, I doubt it…and here’s why; we’ve already been there and done that.

  Under new plans, over the next two years, taxpayers and service users should see six regional health areas being set up across the country. Sound familiar? Thought so! You see, the HSE, in its current form, was introduced back in 2004 to replace the health boards that were already in operation at the time. So, in a nutshell, it’s not a shake-up, it’s simply a case of the government doing a Marty McFly and going back to the future, only now they’re spinning it as the implementation of Sláintecare.

  For those who’re still a tad confused, the idea is that it’s hoped the ‘new’ structure will showcase a more linked-in local health care system and a far smaller HSE administration to look after the likes of quality and financial assurance and clinical strategies, and so on.  These are principally the current problems the failing framework has typically been facing. Now, from chatting with readers, I know Simon’s spin is generating lots of excitement around the possibility that at last, our government will be providing us, the taxpayers, with a greatly improved community-based health service, but personally I’m sceptical. I want to know what plans he’s put in place, if, in the highly likely scenario, variations in care standards arise across the country. However, on a positive note, (because I want to be fair), I’m glad it’s proposed that local people will be hired based primarily on their medical experience and abilities, and on their competency skillsets to run these regional offices as opposed to  what could be described as the technically deficient suits currently in charge.

  Whatever happens, make no mistake about it folks, this shake-up, which we should see being fed in by 2021, is gonna cost us taxpayers’ big time. This proposed ‘joined-up’ service between the local doctor to the local hospital and to us, the community, is not gonna come cheap and I want to know where Harris will make the cuts and how many patients are going to suffer as a result of his big plans.

 

Tee-ed off with British pundits who blur our stars’ national identities

 

Now, I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about golf, other than the fact that players Shane Lowry, (comhghairdeas champ), and Rory McIlroy are both Irish! Did ya get that pundit Gary Lineker and Sky Sports’ commentator Laura Davies? They’re not British, you cheeky pair of gits, they’re both I-r-i-s-h; from the island of I-r-e-l-a-n-d, the country your, ahem, ‘empire’ once tried to airbrush out of the history books!  Yes readers, it really tee-ed me off last weekend when this pair, who should really know better, tried to claim both of these Irish sportsmen as their own.

  In the case of Rory McIlroy, Lineker ignorantly tweeted ‘It’s the British Open and @McIlroyRory is British’. In the case of Offaly native Shane Lowry, as the event was taking place on Irish soil for the first time in 68 years, and, strangely, as the strapline appeared on the screen in front of her eyes, Davies’ rudely stripped our hero of his nationality. Indeed, I’m certain the collective sharp intake of Irish breath was clearly audible across our entire island when the misinformed one announced live on air, “It would be lovely wouldn’t it for the home fans, and for us as well because it’s nice to see a British winner of The Open”.

  Look, here’s the thing Britain. With regard to Rory, we know he’s faced a few questions around his identity during his very illustrious career in the past, but the fact is, he will be representing Ireland, (not Britain) at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. With that in mind, stop bein’ so flippin’ clingy, it’s embarrassing, and stop staking a claim to our home-grown heroes and instead, move on and get a few of your own! 

 

What is your price-point Paschal?

 

I listened to Minister for Waffle, sorry Finance Paschal Donohoe’s jibber-jabber regarding his Department’s latest strategy proposals around applying tax on new cars and used imports, the terms of which he’ll need to consider in time for this year’s Budget. Now, while I do know that, from an environmental point of view, certain changes are needed, this whole sudden anti-diesel campaign waged by our government has really got me fuming, especially as I’m one of the suckers who bought a diesel car, paying them €1,200 a year to tax it.

  I mean, if I could afford it, as an eco-friendly citizen, I’d gladly change to an electric vehicle; as I’m sure so would many other concerned readers. In fact, if I lived in a county that had a public transport system like buses, the DART and the LUAS, I’d happily get rid of my car altogether. However, here’s the thing, I’m in Roscommon, and, not only are we lacking the public transport facilities enjoyed by other counties, we’re also devoid of a sufficient supply of electric vehicle charging points.

  So, while Paschal parades his vote-winning initiatives contained in a ‘give and take’ Budget, teasing us with  the €700 million available to him to balance the nation’s books – the clincher being his big plans to overhaul the type of cars we drive – rural motorists like you and me are being overlooked.

  With this is mind, I have the following questions. Why are rural drivers/voters constantly being ignored by our government? How is Paschal going to make electric vehicles more affordable to us, and, if he does, as the infrastructure is not in place to charge them, how does he expect us to drive them? In short…charging points aside, I want to know, what exactly is your price-point Paschal?

 

Why I won’t be FaceApping!

 

 

Living with the consequences of a broken foot hasn’t just left me clinging to two crutches while trying to apply a bit of make-up; it’s also rendered me the perfect contortionist for a job with the Cirque du Soleil.  However, due to my lack of make-up, not only do I not wish to see what I look like in the mirror today, I don’t wish to see what I look like when I’m pushing 90. To that end, I won’t be engaging in the new FaceApp fad everyone’s on about.

  But for those who do, bear in mind that the App, developed and owned by Russian company Wireless Lab, has privacy policies dating back to 2017, meaning they pre-date GDPR, the relevance of which means your biometric data, (including your photos), is covered.

  Now this company has issued a statement saying ‘most’ images uploaded are being removed within 48 hours – but ‘most’ does not mean all! However, if you’re happy with that, knock yourself out and snap away. But remember this, your pic is not just changing on your phone, it’s changing in other places too, and it’s going onto an unknown server. So, if the day ever dawns when you, (who’ve given your images away for free), will want/need them to be returned, the company involved may not be so generous, possibly leading to you paying extortionate amounts in order to retrieve it.

 

 

Nothing like a broken foot to keep you grounded

 

 

It was 6 am. I’d showered, and, as the sun was shining, I’d dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt. Then, putting on more make-up than would be required by the entire cast of Ru Paul’s colourful drag queen contestant line-up, I headed downstairs. As my nose followed the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, compliments of he-who-is-manacled-to-me, I was in great form at the prospect of the pair of us enjoying breakfast with our fur babies before I’d head off to work. That’s when the unthinkable happened. Five steps from the bottom of the stairs, my left foot suddenly slipped over the edge…and bam! I heard two things. The first was a loud crack. The second was the ear-splitting sound of my own voice screaming louder than a Tony award winner!

  However, thanks to he-who-picked-me-up-as-if-I-were-a-feather, in no time I was being rushed to our family doctor in Boyle. Once there, lovely receptionist Nicky got me into surgery and Dr. Kamal, upon examining me, gave me a shot of painkiller, before sending me, (and a letter) to Roscommon hospital’s injury unit for treatment, where I received wonderful care.

  Following a series of x-rays and CT scans, it was thought I’d broken my talus, which is a small foot bone that works as a hinge between the tibia and the fibula. Or something like that. I was finding it difficult to concentrate through the excruciating pain barrier, wishing some kind soul would dispense a bit of morphine in my direction. By lunchtime, I was on my way home, my left foot fitted with a support boot, a pair of crutches and an appointment to see a fracture specialist the following morning at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway. Before I go any further, I need to thank the porter Paul Lally, an absolute gent who came out to the car with a wheelchair to whisk me to reception. Thanks also to the receptionist, whose name I didn’t get, but who’ll remember me as the white-as-a-sheet aul wan, whom, upon being asked her age, replied…“I’m a 22-year-old supermodel masquerading as a menopausal harpy”. You were both a pleasure to deal with. I’d also like to thank the advanced registered practitioner Maggie Mew, who was exceptionally nice and super-efficient.  And also the delightful radiographer Emer, who I’m sure, delayed having her lunch in order to carry out my CT scan. Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage Emer; you’ll be a beautiful bride.

  The following morning, upon arrival at Mr. Shannon’s clinic in Merlin Park, the fantastic team discovered yet another fracture. Hearing this news has greatly upset me, especially as the second one affected my calcaneus, (heel bone), which, according to the specialist, can be a pretty disabling injury. In addition, due to an autoimmune condition, they are unable to operate. Nor can I take anti-inflammatories. However, I refuse to let this beat me and, following a visit to the physiotherapist, I’m determined to do all in my power to get back on both feet again.

   I’m in a lot of pain. My foot resembles a piece of bruised and blackened flesh, as opposed to a body part, (probably because my tendons and ligaments are bunched too). I’m extremely upset and mad at myself for ‘allowing’ this to happen, but through it all, I’ve been taking the past two weeks to reflect on my life. 

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  I had an accident because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. It’s that simple. I’m not religious, but I’m thanking my angels my momentary lack of attention only caused physical hurt to me, and nobody else.

  I need to be more patient with myself. This is something I’ve learned as I haul my ass up and down the stairs, carry out my exercises and take three times longer to do simple things like going to the toilet, or taking a shower. This patience thing also needs to extend to others around me; especially those looking after me when I ask them to do something and they do it their way, and not the OCD Miriam way. Sorry darling!

  It’s going to take time for my foot to heal; during which I can’t go for my daily walks, and having already missed them for two weeks, I’ve gone from always moving at warp speed to a lunatic who is now literally crawling the walls. However, big picture…in the context of the rest of my life, those healing weeks will prove to be relatively short and I need to slow down, cut myself a bit of slack and allow myself to heal both emotionally and physically. I need to stop being the worrier who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and all her ‘just-in-case’ c**p in her handbag. The reason I’m doing this is because I know that being patient and being calm in the coming weeks, and in accepting help when it’s offered, will result in a more positive outcome for both me and my injury. A massive thanks goes to the man who is my minder, chauffeur, coffee and sympathy dispenser, helper, and laid-back smart-ass who commented that maybe now I’ll learn to live life at a more reasonable pace…my wonderful hubby Simon.

 

Did angry feminists kill chivalry?

 

Last week, broadcaster Laura Whitmore’s tweet regarding how she’d ‘struggled to carry a massive case up 3 flights of stairs at train station. Well abled group of men behind me watched and didn’t offer to help,’ (Sic), got me asking two questions:  One, is chivalry dead? Two, did angry feminists kill it?

  Now, I empathise with Laura, but, as an independent woman myself, (crutches aside), I’d wonder why she singled out the ‘well abled group of men’ not coming to her aid, and didn’t take umbrage with any possible ‘well abled’ women standing by? I consider myself to be a feminist, but for me, feminism is all about equality. It’s not about man-bashing. Hence my curiosity regarding why unhelpful males and not unhelpful females appear to have raised Laura’s ire.

  You see readers, it’s my fear that, sometimes, in this politically correct world, instead of us feminists using our skills to educate others about equality and good manners through a logical and balanced approach, some – we’ll call them revolutionary renegades, (okay, nut jobs) – are burning their colourless bras, throwing their childish tantrums and hopping on bandwagons just so they can spread hate and utter confusion. This has led to the majority of men now being scared of how their good manners in offering help to a lady will be interpreted. And, dare I suggest that in Laura’s situation, it’s highly likely one or more of those ‘well abled men’ wanted to offer her their assistance, but were actually scared stiff, that if they stepped up, they’d be accused of treating her as a weak and feeble female. Remember, chivalry does not equal sexism, folks; rather it equals good manners and respect for all.

 

Leo goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid…

 

 

 

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the date Leo Varadkar, right, was elected to high office, becoming the fourteenth Taoiseach of Ireland. And, even though the elevation to power of a young, openly gay, son of an immigrant hailed a new and tolerant era for a country which has, thankfully, grown tired of its one-time discriminatory, old-fashioned ways of the past, part of me remains concerned about his appointment. You see, I’m not sure if it’s down to the humidity or just plain stupidity, but it appears our Leo never ceases to miss a good opportunity to say something daft.

  Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us are perfect. And I’ll be first to admit, I’ve said some pretty stupid things. However, one of the greatest attributes of getting oneself elected to public high office is having the gift of the gab. Indeed, choosing one’s words carefully, and speaking with knowledge, passion and compassion are all part and parcel of being a first-class world leader. In fact, you could say, given the ridiculous things some of our former Taoisigh have uttered, when it comes to the art of communications, the bar is really not set that high for our Leo. And yet, strangely, almost as if it were a force of habit, instead of raising it, he just limbos right underneath it.

  Look, we all remember Bertie and laughed at the way in which he managed to mangle the English language, especially when he once described a gangland incident as a “fly-past shooting”. Bertie’s also on record as saying he wasn’t going to be “upsetting the apple tart” and he advised people to “stop throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other”. Now, while all of these little Bertie bloopers proved to be a highly amusing set of malapropisms, I have to say Leo’s gaffes are more cringeworthy, than they are funny. Take his latest clanger for example where, the day before he was scheduled to meet up with church leaders, the Fine Gael leader crassly compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a “secretly sinning priest”.

  Now let me say that I am not a practising Catholic, rather I choose to engage in the parts of my religion that best suit me. Therefore, I’ve taken absolutely no offence whatsoever regarding Leo’s remarks. And, while I believe that from the point of view of a positive spin, Leo’s comments were enormously inappropriate, unlike Independent TD Mattie McGrath, I am far from being “horrified”. Yes, Leo wounded and offended a lot of people, but he didn’t really mean to launch an attack on the country’s main religion. Nor did his words, as Mattie so dramatically decried, hail the onset of an “open season on the Catholic Church” policy. Honestly Mattie love, do get a grip snowflake. Sure it’s as if you’re tripping over yourself to become offended these days. However, I would definitely agree with Independent Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s more balanced views where he’s quoted as saying that “If this (Leo’s remark), was said about any other church or group in society, there would be uproar”. And he’s right. There would be, pardon the pun, hell to pay for the simple reason there are many religions that would go ballistic and probably declare war on anyone who so mercilessly ridiculed their clerical representatives.

  So, while I believe Leo’s comments were unfortunate, poorly timed and highly inappropriate, I also believe they were delivered in the heat of the moment by an over-excited individual who really should know better. That said though, I do feel our leader’s disparaging comments were, on a personal level, highly unfair to Catholic priests. I do know there are many wonderful priests, especially those living among us in rural communities, who go way above and beyond their duties in an effort to serve their flocks. And, while certain scandalous acts perpetrated by some men-of-the-cloth in the past have been well documented, Leo’s stigmatising denouncement of all priests as a group, is not only cutting as it is immature, but dare I suggest it, his statement last week could also be construed as being highly defamatory.

 

Gender neutral uniforms offer kids more choice

I’d imagine parents everywhere are bracing themselves for the long queues to buy the kids’ back-to-school stuff. However, I wonder, when kitting the kids out for their uniforms, how many Roscommon parents think that purchasing skirts for the boys and trousers for the girls is a good idea? I only ask given St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones, County Wicklow’s recent announcement regarding their all-inclusive initiative to introduce a gender neutral school uniform policy.

  Look, as far as I’m concerned, school should be a place where kids feel happy and comfortable, where they can be themselves without fear of being bullied or being treated as an outcast. And, if that means that some children feel their identities are better expressed by wearing certain items of clothing, albeit ones that are in line with the school’s policy, then sure where’s the harm in that? I mean, it’s not really that radical a move, now is it; rather it’s about offering students more choice and not pigeonholing those kids who may feel confused about who they are, into specific gender stereotypes.

  No child is born homophobic. No child is born with a discriminatory bone in their body. However, as they grow and develop, it is my belief that they do form and adopt certain hostile attitudes, (which can often prove to be prejudicial), from other influences such as us, their parents, their peers and from society as a whole. Therefore, through exposing our children to a less restricting and more tolerant and humane perspective, we, as parents and educators are not opening them up to hate and homophobia, instead we are helping them to create a culture of acceptance, and that has got to be good for everyone, now hasn’t it?

 

Alleged thermal pollution at Lough Ree is worrying

 

I don’t know about you readers, but news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating what I’d deem to be a serious issue at the Lough Ree power plant, leading to a suspension of operations, has got me concerned about our wildlife and our marine life. I’m no expert but it doesn’t take one to know that the effects of thermal discharges on freshwater fish and our wildlife can greatly affect their reproductive cycles, wreaking havoc on their very survival. Let’s hope the situation is brought under control as a matter of urgency. Water is our most precious asset, and we must reduce the risk of it being polluted…for all our sakes!

 

 

Why are Brits obsessed with blustering Boris?

 

 

 

As the blustering, bumbling blond bombshell Boris Johnson measures up the windows for curtains and the floors for carpets at 10 Downing Street, I have to wonder if, like the US, ego-led politics has also become  the order of the day in the UK. I only ask because it appears that Britain, having been led, (kinda) by what appears to have been a steady and desperate-to-please  Theresa May, is now worryingly on course to elect the man who was once dumped from his job as a journalist with The Times newspaper for allegedly ‘fabricating quotes’. Now, given his colourful domestic life, (and bearing in mind he represents a party that continuously toots its family values horn), I’ve no doubt Boris will provide us columnists with plenty of attention-grabbing headlines. Meaning, while his tenure won’t be dull, it may certainly prove dangerous for those of us living on this side of the water. Then again, the philanderer-in-chief could unexpectedly prove to be our new BFF!

  Estranged from wifey number two, the man with more bounce than Zebedee (for younger readers, he’s the Jack in the box from The Magic Roundabout), has, as we know, recently become embroiled in a public domestic with his girlfriend. This incident has rendered the face of Brexit’s ‘leave’ campaign to become the subject of headlines after nosey curtain twitchers, sorry, concerned neighbours, upon hearing raised voices, had the presence of mind to record the row through their adjoining wall. They then dialled 999! For the record, nothing was found to be amiss. However, since the incident, the loved-up pair have spent every waking moment publicly pledging their love and devotion to each other. Pass the puke bucket please.

  So, due to all of the above, Ireland, indeed, the rest of Europe, has now become preoccupied with Boris and his domestic situation; much in the same way we’ve all  been caught up with Trump and his dalliances. Indeed, there’s not a day goes by that some social commentator is not moaning about self-serving opportunist Boris, his messy private life, and his unsuitability for the big job in the big house. And yet, despite all of the kerfuffle and the, let’s say, impropriety, with old BJ being alleged to have fathered a child, (possibly more), outside of marriage, with him both writing and saying some gravely offensive things about minorities, the man continues to remain strangely popular. In fact, only last week, even as it was reported that the Foreign Office managed to persuade the BBC to edit out a comment from a documentary where BJ, (come on, it’s short for Boris Johnson…keep up), allegedly dubbed the French as being “turds,” – très embarrassant – fans, who seem to eat up his tasteless tirades, were still supporting this tactless old Etonian toff. I must say that when pressed over his alleged vulgar remark, the PM-in-waiting did say he had “no recollection” of the comment. Comme c’est pratique! Then again, I’ll bet he won’t remember that, upon leaving his alma mater, when asked to document their aspirations in life, as some of Boris’ fellow students quoted poetry, the over-excited enfant terrible allegedly wrote that his dream was…wait for it…‘To secure more notches on my phallocratic phallus’.

  Mind you, word is that car maker Vauxhall, who has a French owner, and who gives employment to approximately one thousand Brits, are delaying a decision on building the new Astra until they see how Brexit is going. Clearly they’re not fans of blustering Boris. Now, as the situation is looking extremely serious with a no-deal scenario seeming likely, if I were BJ’s PR guru girlfriend, (in his dreams), and wanted to grace the halls of Downing Street, instead of smashing the crockery, (allegedly), I’d be advising him to stop sounding like he’s reading from a Father Ted script. I’d warn him to stop being a tabloid sensation, and urge him to get something for what could prove be a highly fatal case of foot-in-mouth disease. 

 

Vive la rainbow revolution…but let’s not ignore our most vulnerable and our voiceless!

 

Our country played host to its biggest and most colourful Pride parade last Saturday, the theme of which was Rainbow Revolution. I was delighted to see   members of An Garda Síochàna, Macra na Feirme and the GAA, as well as many senior politicians, making their debut appearances, as they stood loud, proud and in solidarity with their friends and families.

  The entire event instilled me with a wonderful noble and pure, live-and-let-live vibe; showcasing the bright and the beautiful side of our country.

  However, on the other side of the city, indeed, across the entire country, peaceful protests, attended by passionate and humane animal welfare advocates, were taking place in order to highlight the darker side of our society. I’m talking about the scandal that is our unscrupulous and cruel greyhound racing and coursing industry.

  Look, I’m not going to use my column as a soapbox to preach; regular readers know how much I adore and advocate for all animals and their welfare. However, I will say that, following RTE’s ground-breaking and heartbreaking documentary ‘Running for their Lives’ I’ve been approached by a great number of you caring Rossies, (including those admitting to enjoying the  ‘odd flutter on the dogs’) expressing their utter outrage and horror, telling me they were totally ignorant to the plight of some of our greyhounds.

  Now, scandalous and eye-opening though this expose was, sadly its content was not news to me. But this week, I have to do something I don’t often do, and that is congratulate RTE on a difficult but balanced job well done. In making this documentary, RTE has exposed the extensive and systemic brutality inflicted on these gentle creatures on a daily, often hourly basis. Indeed folks, the torture begins for these puppies the very second they’re born, with an astonishing 6,000 greyhounds inhumanely slaughtered annually for committing the simple crime of being too slow, with certain Irish, let’s call them, ‘enterprises,’ despicably terminating their lives for just €10 a dog.

  So, while The Good Country Index has ranked Ireland as being ‘among the most humane countries in the world,’ I’d have to wonder if they looked at the barbaric way in which we treat our vulnerable and our voiceless animals. When it comes to Irish greyhounds, it appears that despite the fact that the Greyhound Racing Act 2019, (signed into law last month) gives the Irish Greyhound Board, (IGB) greater powers to make regulations for the traceability of greyhounds, I fear that Ireland’s concept on animal welfare will forever remain pathetically poor. Putting in place any animal welfare act and not enforcing it and then acting shocked and outraged in public when cruelty is exposed, yet still supporting it and providing it with €16.8 million in taxpayers’ money, (this year alone), doesn’t showcase concern, rather it smacks of hypocrisy and culpability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We teach them how to tie their shoelaces…but have we taught them how to empathise?

 

 

It was a murder that made absolutely no sense, nor did it hold any logic or coherence. An event so unprecedented in the history of the State, and hugely traumatic for the three families involved, it also proved to be sickeningly distressing for the entire country as a whole. How on earth could two 13-year-old children murder another child in such a predatory and brutal fashion? How could one of those murderers not only have 12,000 obscene and disgusting images downloaded onto two mobile phones, but how and why didn’t anybody know?

  Now, in a week filled with uproar and anger aimed at the lunacy of certain individuals who broke the law by illegally posting information online regarding the alleged identities of the two convicted teens, I have to say, given the sickening details of the case, I do understand why feelings are running high. However, let me stress that, in compliance with The Children Act 2001, the convicted must not be exposed to ‘avoidable intimidation, humiliation or distress’. So, rein it in folks and instead, hold the beautiful Ana Kriegel’s memory deep in your hearts, and please allow justice to take its natural course.

  It is for this reason, instead of keeping the spotlight on the two murderers and how the verdict will negatively affect their lives, (because I honestly don’t care about them), I’d like instead to keep a focus on their victim, the little lady who could have been anybody’s daughter. The vulnerable and much-adored child whose life these two so cruelly and so mercilessly terminated in order to satiate their own sickening perversions.

  Seemingly friendless and socially isolated from her peers, it’s clear that Ana’s parents loved their adopted daughter beyond words. Indeed, the Kreigals were enormously proud of their remarkably beautiful statuesque teen, whom we’ve learned was more mature and more sensitive than many of her contemporaries. Due to Ana’s unique qualities, I’d imagine that jealous, malicious bullies singled her out as being ‘strange’. Indeed, (in the words of one of the accused), Ana, who was just two years’ older than my own granddaughter, and, whom, like most young teens, loved to sing and dance, was sickeningly compartmentalised as being “a weirdo,” who wore “kind of slutty” clothes and “looked like she wanted people to look at her”.

  Well readers, these statements clearly indicate to me that, even in the face of evidence being stacked against the accused duo – indeed, proof, showing clear culpability – it’s obvious that bare-faced and blatant victim-blaming remained a constant undercurrent in this horrific crime. In short, Ana was viewed as not only being vulnerable, but as somehow deserving of her fate. To those who stole her life, this powerless, emotionally frail young lady was nothing more than an object. A thing to be sexually assaulted, brutally beaten and callously abandoned among a pile of discarded condom wrappers, broken bottles and other decaying pieces of filth.

   As a result of my psychology training, I know, and understand, that children who murder other children may themselves have been neglected, abused and/or have experienced a turbulent home life. However, I’m not suggesting whatsoever that this was the situation here. Indeed, let me stress, during this high profile case we heard how these two boys were ‘well-mannered’, coming from ‘normal’ middle-class families who’re held in high esteem. Of course there was nothing normal about the abuse and murder of Ana. 

  Truth be told, there was something distinctly barbaric and bloodthirsty in the method in which they not just robbed this child of her innocence, but also of her life. And, as information regarding the Gardaí’s interviews was released, it became clear that Ana was seen by her murderers as someone who was disposable, as someone without any friends, and, as someone they could reject, humiliate and finally, use as a target and an outlet for their sick, voracious and violent perversions.

  As parents, we play a vitally important role in teaching our kids to know and understand when they’ve been unkind and when they’ve hurt others. We have a duty to educate them how to have empathy. Tragically, it appears for those who bullied, brutalised and murdered Ana, this cognitive and compassionate emotion was not so much lacking, rather it was clearly missing altogether. Now this could mean that both boys experienced some sort of, (let me suggest) ‘mind sickness’ disturbingly diminishing their natural abilities to be humane and compassionate to a beautiful young girl who was desperate to fit in. Or it could mean that their parents, (who may well be good people), didn’t properly communicate their expectations regarding their kids’ moral development. Who knows? Either way, a child is dead and two children are incarcerated for her murder. I wish for Ana’s beautiful, gentle soul to rest in peace and for her parents to heal and recover from the trauma of their heart-breaking and intense loss. I’m also mindful of the acute distress this heinous crime has brought upon the convicted boys’ families and my thoughts are with all involved, (including the Gardaí), at this painful time.

 

Maura…make the most of  this fleeting opportunity at fame!

 

Toned, tanned, and on d’telly would be how I’d sum up the cast of Love Island! Now that’s without ever watching a single minute of a show whereby the contestants’ survival depends entirely on not just being part of a couple, but one that’s deemed by the viewing masses to be aesthetically appealing.

  Now let me say, I’d rather stick bamboo shoots up my nails than watch this type of tripe. However, given the constant media coverage of the participants, who’re all, by the way, remarkably endowed with impossibly perfect bodies, (nope, not a minger among them), I’ve been able to keep up to speed with the goings-on both in front of the cameras and, er, under the sheets.

  This leads me nicely to local-girl-from-small-town-made-good Maura Higgins, whose antics have generated quite a lot of personal snipes, dubbing her ‘a sexual predator’ and a ‘man eater,’ prompting some readers to stop me and ask about my own take on the Longford lovely.

  Now, as I don’t know Maura at all, it’d be impossible, (and wrong) of me to form an opinion of her based purely on that perilous popsicle-sucking incident. Oooh, me nerves! What I will do though, is offer her some motherly advice and say…feck the begrudgers love…you’re playing a blinder. Make the most of this fleeting opportunity at fame and don’t you dare melt into the background when this sham show’s bubble bursts. And, when the malicious hatemongers hawk their stories to the meeja, remember hon, you were placed in an artificial situation, indeed, manipulated for other people’s amusement, and, rather than sink into the scenery, you excelled and you did your family proud. Good on ya girl!

 

Cervical smear scandal is what happens when the ‘system’ puts cost over quality

 

 

Well folks, you know it’s a slow news week when stories like Trump’s mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ intention to vacate her role as White House Press Secretary and the great Irish ‘motor-insurance rip-off’ revelation generates surprise, speculation and debate among social commentators. I mean, you don’t need to be Mystic Meg to know the writing was on the wall for the woman who appeared to try and condition the public into thinking that journos are the enemy of the people. You also don’t need to be Einstein to know that, when it comes to motor insurance fees, this country’s practice and approach is a complete joke. It has long been documented that drivers, including me, are being hit with such preposterous premiums, it stood to reason the industry’s profits would sky-rocket from €16 million in 2016 to €227 million in 2017! So, no bombshell revelations there.

  However, what did shock me to the core was Dr. Gabriel Scally’s latest disturbing findings relating to the ongoing CervicalCheck controversy. You see, when Dr. Scally was initially brought on board to carry out a scoping inquiry into what went wrong with the health screening programme, he was told there were six laboratories involved in reading the slides. However, due to the Doc and his team’s excellent investigative skills, it has now transpired that a staggering sixteen laboratories were involved in the overall process. Now, worrying though this is, what’s actually more alarming is the fact that the HSE, the National Cancer Screening Programme and CervicalCheck allege they had absolutely no clue that this was going on! Really? How very odd! Now, while Dr. Scally did reassure us that he and his team “have not come across anything that would indicate to us that there are quality failures in any systematic way,” in relation to these previously undiscovered labs, as far as I’m concerned, that’s got to be cold comfort to the women unfortunate enough to be affected by this travesty.

  Look, as this stage, I want to urge readers to keep a focus on the fact that health screening programmes, while they’re not diagnostic, are both vital and lifesaving. Nonetheless, they’re only effective if a proper set of protocols are put in place. And I’m afraid,  it’s clear, given these disturbing findings, when it comes to women’s health in this country, in this particular instance those protocols were not in place, and not only was due diligence ignored, but safeguards appear to have also been totally disregarded. I mean, you only need to look at the fact that one lab, which allegedly tested over ninety thousand slides, was only accredited retrospectively. As it stands, I have very little confidence in a regime that enters a ‘shock-horror-please-pity-us. Sure-we-were-clueless. Those-deceitful-labs-never-disclosed-that-part-of-their-practice-was-to-outsource-work’ as some pathetic line of defence. The HSE bigwigs need to stop gambling with women’s health, and, instead of anchoring their decisions on cost, they should start focusing on quality.

  It stands to reason folks, if our so-called health service is tendering out work to organisations, the result of which can be a case of life or death, the absolute least they could do is know that this organisation’s personnel are up to scratch, can actually carry out the specific work they’re paying them for, that they know who these people are, and vitally, they know where they are. The women of Ireland have an absolute right to know three things…where our cervical smear slides are being sent, if the information we are being provided with is accurate, and that those tasked with providing that information can stand confidently over it.

Family homelessness is a plague that has spread nationwide

Well folks, it appears that family homelessness has hit an unprecedented high. And no, this is not just a big city epidemic; this is a plague so highly virulent, it has spread nationwide. This tells me that we are now witnessing a situation whereby our government is  tolerating a structure that sees families, (like yours and mine), being forced into leaving long-term rental accommodation because their private landlord has either moved on or changed his/her mind with regard to their property, etc.

  Now that’s not just my opinion. These are the findings of Focus Ireland, whose Director of Advocacy Mike Allen, while speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last week, revealed ‘the homelessness crisis is taking place in the private rented sector’.

  So, one minute you’re renting a beautiful house; one where you’ve lovingly decorated, and where you felt happy and secure enough to call it your home. Indeed, a haven where you’ve integrated yourself and your family into the friendly local community, where you’ve enrolled the kids in schools and established yourself in a job. Then suddenly, out of the blue, you get the call telling you to leave, rendering you terrified you’ll end up living on the side of the road.

   Now this is no fairy story folks, rather it is – tragically – the case for many hundreds of families whom, through no fault of their own, and whom, despite having a decent income, are unable, for various reasons, to get a mortgage. However, these families are able to afford to pay rent. Indeed, they not only religiously pay that rent on time; they lovingly take care of the landlord’s property as if it were their very own. Now I am not, and would not, tar all landlords with the same brush. As we know, while there are disreputable ones, there are also excellent decent ones spread right across this county. In fact our own landlord is a gentleman. But the sad fact for many renters, i.e. those who have been, and who currently are, in successful residencies, (and the Focus Ireland stats back this us), is that they can often find themselves left at the mercy of their landlord’s whims and are sometimes given insufficient notice to vacate a property. When this happens, not only are families/couples left without somewhere safe and secure to lay their heads, but their entire life also begins to fall apart. And, if a relocation means that jobs and school placements are put at risk, then the onset could mean a possible breakdown in an entire family’s mental health, wellbeing and structure. I tell ya folks, when this State places its citizens in a precarious situation where they cannot find a place to call home and where government policy is to ignore the desperate need to build houses, then it’s my opinion that we’ve not just lost the battle for a roof over our heads, we’ve catastrophically lost the entire war for our basic human rights. I don’t know about you readers, but for me, this is definitely not good enough. 

 

Up the Rossies!

The county is on a high this week, and it’s all down to the new Connacht champions and their spectacular second-half comeback! Comhghairdeas lads. You did yourselves and your county proud.

 

 

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