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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Leo’s ‘new sharing’ Government missed the mark with Budget 2018

 

I know it’s last week’s news but the impact of Budget 2018 is set to have serious implications, especially if you’re someone who’s missing out on hundreds of euro a year on your State pension due to a change implemented in Budget 2011 (for 2012) by then Social Protection Minister Joan Burton when she shifted the eligibility rules, making it hard for many to secure a full State ‘contributory’ amount. 

  This unjust reality, (which I’ll try to explain; but it’s a head-wrecker) was already flagged by an Age Action report when it conveyed that under these changes, a staggering 36,000 people have already had their State pensions cut. 

  You see, according to the ‘old system’, the government used four ‘contributory bands’ to calculate what people would be receiving; and as a ‘contributory band’ calculates the amount you get based on how long and how much you’ve paid into your pension over the years, the 2012 implementation of another two bands served to vastly change the rules, negatively impacting what many are now collecting; which, in a lot of cases is just 85 per cent of the maximum payment.

  And so, as Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has neglected to tackle and fix this unfair consequence, many voters, (a lot of them women, now in their autumn years) are being financially discriminated against for temporarily leaving the workforce to raise families with many, at the time, being prejudicially forced to leave jobs due to that stupid marriage bar rule. They now find themselves being punished by the State’s ‘system.’ Are ya with me so far?

  Now, with the Department of Social Protection’s bean counters estimating an approximate cost of €60 million to revert to the former system, it was actually my own understanding that The Homemakers’ Scheme had addressed these gaps in employment by providing a disregard for those of us (men and women) who took time out of the workforce to raise our families; however it now appears it only provides for periods from 1994 onwards.

  Okay, but here’s the thing – while we all focused on the finer details of last week’s ‘sunbed and sugar tax’ Budget, something else really irked me, which I deem as being a very sneaky stroke directly concerning Leo Varadkar’s spin-shop. And yes, I know he’s calling it the ‘strategic communications unit,’ but I don’t deal in bulls**t. You see, with all the brilliance of Harry Arter’s skilful step-over in setting up James McClean’s goal for Ireland against Wales last week, friend-of-the-early-riser Leo sold us a right dummy when he hawked his spin-shop as a “cost neutral” initiative. Now stay with me here folks…being that ‘cost neutral’ is a method whereby implementing a project for the purposes of audit means any loss or gain would balance each other out; and… if Department staff were being re-deployed to facilitate said spin-shop, why did Paschal set aside a whopping €5 million slush fund out of our money to bankroll it? Devious or wha’?

  Now this little quango…yes, that’s what it is…makes me question if our Leo can actually talk the talk and walk the walk, because, if he can, why would he need a personal communications outfit as a crutch? Wouldn’t that €5 million be better spent on restoring these pension cuts, or on reducing the HSE’s savage waiting lists?

  It seems to me that ‘people’s pal’ Leo and his merry men and women have clearly placed image before taxpayers’ needs, vanity before the sick and elderly, egotism before the homeless, and pretension before the squeezed middle; making it evident this self-professed ‘new sharing’ government undeniably missed the mark when they underhandedly snatched that €5 mill from necessitous voters.

Why Click & Collect just isn’t for me!

Most people I know consider the virtual experience of retail therapy as an essential part of their day. However, as someone who likes to support local businesses, and who enjoys interacting with another human being, I prefer the good old bricks and mortar approach and avoid shopping online; and I have a feeling that the lovely Chairperson of Roscommon Tidy Towns Kathleen Shanagher, who is quoted in this newspaper saying she’d, “heard retailers saying people are going into their shops…trying on clothes…dirtying their clothes…” would agree with me.

  Personally I’ve got no time for anyone who walks into a struggling local boutique for the sole purpose of squeezing their sweaty body into a carefully selected pristine item of clothing, (or sometimes several items)  hangs it back up and cheekily walks out and orders it  from a large online store or business-to-customer emporium…it’s unfair. Now I’m all for teaching everyone computer literacy, but come on readers, online shopping is killing the very heartbeat of our local communities, i.e. the little boutique, the quaint bookshop or the family-run electrical outlet, etc., where real live humans offer advice, pass the time of day with you and where personal service is key. And, what I find especially worrying is that as Ireland is at an early stage of this virtual retail revolution, things are going to get worse. So, if anyone honestly wants to know who’s killing off rural businesses, I suggest they take a look at the man (or woman) in the mirror, and er, change their ways.

Equal parenting is not always the case

 

When I heard on Ireland AM and read in most of the print meeja, that Angi Stafford (from the UK), was ‘shocked,’ by wording on the back of Tesco’s own brand disposable nappy liners, I thought  something abhorrent, something that’d incite risk to both user and infant, had  been printed on the pack. I mean, what could possibly ‘shock,’ scandalise and sicken a poor, first-time mother (and professional nurse) so badly her complaint had gone viral? 

  I’ll tell ya what flustered this delicate flower readers…two little words – ‘help mum’ – which were brazenly and astoundingly emblazoned on the liners’ pack and which Angi-I-have-feck-all-else-to-do-Stafford views as being ‘gendered instructions.’ Methinks Angi needs a project!

  Now while I understand everyone can change a baby’s nappy, it’s been my own experience that not everyone does! In my former marriage it was me, d’mammy, who changed wet and dirty bottoms, who wiped up projectile vomiting, and who took time off work when the babies were ill.  And yes, I was peed off at the unfair division of parenting duties in my home, (and I’ll stick my neck out and guess that so too were (are) many other Roscommon mammies). But face it folks, in a heterosexual parenting situation, (I’m not referring to same sex couples here, so no letters),  it’s usually mammy who bears the bulk of the duties; so Tesco aren’t too far off the mark with their labelling, even if yes, it could be construed as showing a gender bias.

  However mammies, let me ask you this…how many times have you smouldered with anger, when, arriving home from work, you found baby screaming at a decibel only the dog could hear, the house stinking of soiled nappies and himself, king-of-the-remote-control, slouched in front of the telly, making you want to take drastic action?  How many of you resented that lazy lump, (who left his baby’s cr*p for you to clean) so badly, you thought the bile inside your belly would burn like radioactive waste? Yeah, you know where I’m coming from…and yeah, you’re the mammies whom, like me, are the ones who notice a high temperature, who worry over a strange rash,   and, I’m guessing, you’re the mammies who think PC Princess Angi is a divvy! 

  Now, while I’m not referring to parents of any gender here, and I do acknowledge the growing trend of dads who are their babies’ primary carers, I’m not gonna be recommending them for a medal because I believe parenting should be shared equally. I also believe people like Angi need to stop clinging to the abstract notion that this is always the case, and instead, unclench, call the mothership…or should that be the ‘fathership,’ and make sure her antenna is picking up all of the channels!

Brian’s keeping his balls in the air

Clearly realising he’s no longer relevant, but yet not content to become a regular bloke, ex-Westlifer Brian McFadden doubled his efforts to draw attention away from his dwindling career last week with what he must believe is a perfectly timed statement.

  You see I’m guessing he’s always aware that someone, somewhere, is willing to listen to what he has to say. In this case it was Today FM’s celebrity gossip spreader, sorry reporter, who excitedly gushed that before he joined a boyband, man-about-town Brian explained he was ‘actually pretty famous on the bingo scene,’ as…you’ve guessed folks, a bingo caller.

  Well, well, isn’t it nice to see the lad’s doing everything he can to regain ground and reach those dizzying heights of fame once again, even if that means claiming to be the former darling of the blue-rinse brigade.

  I’m not a fan of Brian’s but I’ll give him credit for two things…he’s a trier, and he’s got a reasonable voice. I wish him well.

Get over yourself Rory

Last week, golfer Rory McIlroy disclosed his reason for interacting with young fans who approach him is all down to a shattering encounter he once had with his sporting idol,  former footballer and Ireland’s assistant manager Roy Keane, when the latter allegedly refused to sign his autograph book. 

  Okay fair enough, Rory does have a reputation for caring for his fans and only a while ago made a little kid’s day when a video of him handing the awestruck youngster a golf ball went viral. However, following Rory’s little whinge, I was amused to see a video from 2014 doing the rounds when this self-professed friend-of-the-fans appears to snub a young autograph hunter and the words…kettle, pot and black sprang to mind.

  Ah well, maybe that kid could go on to become a famous sportsperson and take a cheap shot at the minted golfer saying…I remember the time I was devastated to be rebuffed by Rory McIlroy…and, BTW Rory, I’m no fan of Keano’s, but I’m sure he’s not desperate for a visit from the self-esteem fairy following your snide broadside. 

 

 

We are voting on the thorniest socio-political issue of our time

 

According to his spokesperson, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has decided to wait until the wording of the abortion referendum is defined before determining whether or not he will ‘personally campaign in favour of the measure.’ I can’t see anything wrong with that…can you readers?

  I mean, it’s always best to make an informed decision based on all of the statistics at your disposal. And, if  that decision pertains to a highly significant and hugely important fundamental issue directly relating to a law giving an equal right to life to the mother and to the unborn child she is carrying – i.e., should the Eighth Amendment be retained, repealed or amended –then information is vital.

  However, as Leo confirmed that the referendum on the Eighth Amendment will be held next summer, in either May or June, (in addition to the abortion referendum, we’re given a timeline for seven others set to be held over the next couple of years), one would be forgiven for thinking An Taoiseach’s uncertainty regarding his stance was kind of bizarre. You see, when your country’s leader is pushing to hold a referendum you’d have an expectation that he would be supporting it, wouldn’t you?

  Now this referendum is an incredibly devisive issue. It’s been hanging like a millstone around our necks for decades, but I still believe that if Leo, (or anyone else), is unclear as to their position, then they’ve got a right to wait until they see the wording. Put simply, if the language isn’t precise, then we’ll just get it wrong yet again.

  Now I’ve got strong opinions on this issue myself but I won’t be sharing them in this column because it’s not my intention to try and sway readers either way. I will say however, even though I’ll be keeping an open mind, I’d imagine no amount of wording will swing my standpoint or my convictions. But, I will try my hardest to remain objective until I know more.    

  Nevertheless, if anyone is undecided or feels they’re being unfairly harassed by one side or the other, (or by both, because people can get quite intimidating and oppressive on both sides of this topic), then I would respectfully advise that everyone should read the wording carefully, and know exactly what they’re voting for, before they arrive at the polling station to make their choice. 

  I would ask readers to please bear in mind that as this is possibly one of the thorniest and most emotive socio-political issues our little country has managed to catastrophically fail to deal with for, oh… decades, it’s really time to get down to business, stop debating and get our house in order once and for all.

Drop in suicide rate in comforting

I was delighted, as I’m sure so too were readers, that, according to the HSE, our country’s suicide rate has ‘stabilised’, with data suggesting it’s on the decrease. However, wonderful though this news is, we must not get complacent. You see, this report’s information is still telling me that suicide is a major problem and concern in Ireland, (and in our own county), so we must be mindful of anyone who displays a preoccupation with taking their own life.

  On the other hand, we are going in the right direction because the study does show the methods being employed to reach out and help those who experience the torture of enduring unbearable emotional pain, appear to be having a positive effect; so at least we can take solace from that.

  I’d really like to ask readers to please keep an eye on anyone whom they feel may be at risk of self-harming and bear in mind, those who complete suicide do not wish to end their lives; they simply wish to end their intolerable pain.

  Pieta House, (whose Midlands office is in Athlone), operates a national FreePhone helpline on 1800 247 24. You can also log onto www.pieta.ie for information on how you can help someone who’s feeling suicidal.

 

How to lose friends and alienate people!

 

As Donald Trump made his much-anticipated maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly last week, he belligerently threatened North Korea, (and its 25 million people) with total obliteration, telling a shocked world: “We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea” if, ‘Rocket Man’ (his phrase du jour for diminutive despot Kim Jong Un) doesn’t back down and curb his country’s nuclear and missile programmes.

  Now I don’t know about you folks, but Trump’s stupidity makes me nervous and watching him on the news issuing these incendiary threats left me wondering if, at any moment, he was suddenly going to produce a piece of paper with the nuclear codes written on it out of his breast pocket and start waving it about!

  I also wondered if perhaps somehow, (under that straw thatch he calls hair), while he was sleeping, someone had secretly hooked Trump’s brain up to a bad-ass piece of technology, making him think that life was actually a simulated video game playing out alternate realities? I mean, what other explanation could there possibly be for his menacing behaviour? To be honest readers, having heard the so-called leader of the free world breathtakingly bellow and rant in this irresponsible manner on such a public and international platform (and in the presence of the UN general assembly), threatening to destroy an entire nation, I no longer believe the greatest threat to our planet is climate change, rather it is this bloody clown sporting what looks like a wild Troll doll from the 90’s gone rogue on his head!

  But it didn’t end there…oh no, in a very personal retort, the Fresh Prince of Pyongyang hurled a fiery salvo of heated remarks in much the same way as an impertinent six-year-old would retaliate in a playground stand-off, by calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard”, saying he’d “denied the existence of and insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world.” Now in North Korea, the leader is literally regarded as some sort of God-like figure, so it’s really surprising and totally out of kilter for the little leprechaun to engage in such a public manner with Trump, an individual he may possibly view as being a mere mortal.

  Wow… given the threatening ferocity of both the ‘dotard’ and the ‘leprechaun’s’ knee-jerk reactions, it’s clear, people of the world, that we now have a major problem! What we need is for someone – anyone – to step in, and de-escalate this immature hair-pulling before an increasingly intolerable situation escalates into all-out war!

Leo’s a man of the people

The eagerly-awaited Funderland for Farmers, sorry, the National Ploughing Championships, took place last week amid a great fanfare of publicity; and, man of the people…well, those of us who ‘rise early of a morning’, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, made a guest appearance. Yes folks, perfectly put together Gok Wan style, Leo, in wellies and windcheater jacket, tried hard to emulate his ‘down with da kids,’ common touch, and gave an Oscar-winning performance as a leading man trying to appear interested in all things agriculture. 

  I wonder, did Leo remember to have BFF Justin Trudeau’s novelty socks tucked snugly into those wellies or was he far too occupied with his cunning plans to streamline his new spin-shop, sorry strategic communications unit. Who knows?

Time to change the channel?

According to RTÉ, paying a salary of €400,000 a year to Ray D’Arcy represents ‘good value for money,’ and, as The Ray D’Arcy Show, right, returned for a third outing last Saturday, I have to say the so-called ‘tweaked’ format, (probably solidified as a guaranteed audience winner by some suit at Montrose) was as boring as ever. As viewers, I suspect we are being visually and cerebrally abused with a recurring recipe of  continuous cr*p from RTÉ TV shows, going from what was once a trickle, to what is now a gushing torrent, as the station’s head honchos serve us a banal menu of stale, run-of-the-mill,
old-hat formulas.

  RTÉ has spent way too many years rewarding loyal viewers with episode after episode of some of the worst, groan-worthy chat shows fronted by irksome presenters who appear to have a talent for not trying too hard, during what is seen as pivotal peak-time broadcasting, i.e. the weekend.

  Surely this schedule of two wishy-washy chat-in-a-chair shows one night after the other doesn’t accurately reflect what the viewing public want to watch? Then again, maybe if we watch it on pause, with the sound (and the lights) turned down, having consumed a glass of vino, RTÉ’s Late Late Show and The Ray D’Arcy Show could actually prove to be bearable?

  Nah... personally, unless Montrose supplies me with a heady mix of drama and  pulpy escapist fantasy as a winter line-up, fronted by a great presenter, I’m making a vow to quit; never to again return!

 

Parents: Cyber safety is your responsibility

 

According to children’s internet safety charity CyberSafeIreland, children are taking risks online with a staggering ‘22 per cent of them making contact with strangers’ when on the internet! As a parent, I find this to be shockingly scandalous. 

  In addition, I find the fact that, (again, according to research), ‘69 per cent of teachers did not feel equipped to teach online safety’ meaning already put-upon teachers, whose job it is to impart skills and knowledge of an academic nature, were feeling concerned or felt they may be letting their students down because they weren’t properly trained in cyber security. To those teachers, let me say this…it’s okay; don’t stress, because you know what…it’s not part of your job! It’s the parents’ job to protect their kids and (some) parents need to stop abdicating their duties and responsibilities to teachers.  

  Let me ask this. If I, a stranger, driving a strange car, suddenly pulled up outside your kids’ school and told them I was a nice lady and invited them to get into my car and come and see my dogs and promised faithfully they’d come to no harm, etc…would that be okay? Would you allow me, a stranger, to drive away with your kid? No you bloody well wouldn’t!

  So, if we’re to believe this research (and there’s no reason not to), why is it that 16 per cent of children aged under 13 are apparently being allowed spend more than four hours online chatting to strangers? Strangers who could be hardcore paedophiles whose only aim is to brutally harm them! Now, I’m no Mastermind champ, but even I can see this reckless behaviour is the equivalent of allowing your kid hop into a car with an unknown individual.

  Let me ask those who are parents; did you know that paedophiles are now setting up fake social media accounts pretending to be chicken nuggets and ice-cream in order to lure your kids into giving them information about themselves? Don’t believe me? Maybe you’ll believe social media safety expert and forensic psychologist, Dr. Maureen Griffin, who informed the Ennis Mental Health Association in County Clare that sick, twisted, depraved perverts (my words, not hers) have “come up with new and novel ways of gaining access to children’s information.”  

  One scumbag set up a fake social media account posing as a road outside a girls’ secondary school and over 400 unsuspecting kids accepted it (the road) as a friend. This contaminated piece of excrement, (allegedly a known sex offender), then collected the young girls’ selfie photos, images of them attending a teen disco, and their sleepover pics etc., and well, I’ll leave it to your own grown-up imaginations as to what this debauched freak show then did with these innocent children’s images.

  Look, it’s critically important for a child’s physical safety and mental health that they know who they’re engaging with online; so parents, don’t shift your responsibility onto the teacher, instead wake the feck up and educate and supervise your kids before they become one of these tragic statistics.

State pension is not a privilege, it’s our right!

Well, apparently we should all work until we’re 70 before we qualify for the State pension. Yep, that’s the suggestion touted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) as a way of protecting our economy. How considerate of them!

  Look folks, due to mandatory requirement contracts, plenty of older people are being forced out of jobs at 65, meaning we’re losing their vast experience and knowledge. If those people wish to continue in employment, why not allow them…there’s an obvious saving to the economy!

  Here’s another way to put by a few euro…while it’s necessary for the State to incentivise private pension schemes, do we really need to spend billions each year supporting the associated tax breaks? Couldn’t we put a bit of this funding back into supporting the State pension too, making that more sustainable?

  Every single one of us should be allowed to retire and live with independence and dignity; we’ve put our money into the pot, we should be able to get our money back out and not have to panic about living in poverty!

  Remember readers, a State pension is not a privilege or a gift; don’t let anyone tell you that. It’s our money; we’ve saved it through paying our taxes!

Thank you!

Can I say a massive thanks to the local Rossies, the blow-in Dubs (like myself) and the lovely Polish community who approached me during last Saturday’s Bike Night for BloodBike at the Railway Bar in Roscommon town to say how much they enjoy reading this column each week. I feel truly humbled. It was great to meet every one of you lovely people.  

  There’s a genuine love for this newspaper; it has proved itself to be a vital cog when it comes to not just serving the community, but also in providing it with news, entertainment and information, and I feel very privileged to be a part of it.

  Both the staff in the bar on the night and the locals (Liz and Austin especially), made myself and himself feel very welcome.

 

HPV vaccine: Parents need reassurance – not bullying

So…Health Minister Simon Harris says those who aren’t ‘medical professionals’ shouldn’t give expert advice on vaccines. Yes, I agree Mr. Harris, and, as your qualifications are…what? Journalism and French? i.e. you’re not a doctor, my advice to you is to eh, take your own advice and stop dismissing the rational concerns of frantic parents whose daughters are in line to receive this vaccine.

  Stop bullying them and instead reassure them and come up with scientific-based evidence that the HPV shot does not cause medical conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic regional pain syndrome and other problems allegedly associated with it following administration!

 

  Look readers, we all know that 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year with tragically 90 of them losing their lives to it. Now I’m not a doctor, but I was one of those 300 women back in 2012 and I had to undergo an emergency and radical total abdominal hysterectomy due to cervical and ovarian cancer scares and it was terrifying! But you know what, despite my diagnosis, l’ve advised my daughter not to allow my 10-year-old granddaughter have this vaccine, (which she is in line to receive next year), until our Government and drama queen in training, HSE boss Tony ‘emotional terrorism’ O’Brien can reassure parents that their children are not being exposed to a litany of alleged associated medical conditions.

  We’re lucky; in this country we have a wonderful cervical screening programme that attempts to diagnose cervical cancer at an early stage. I believe I owe my diagnosis and my life to that screening programme and I also believe that a vaccine which prevents the HPV transmission and reduces the risk to women’s lives is a wonderful invention. However, I want to see scientific facts and clinical evidence to show that our pre-teens, while being saved from cervical cancer, are not being affected by other alleged medical concerns.

  Look, as parents we want to protect our kids and, as a pro-vaccine supporter I celebrate this wonderful innovation and I do know and appreciate that it saves lives; but tell that to Leitrim man Peter Hollidge, who says his daughter Rebecca suffers from fatigue and is now forced to use a wheelchair after he alleges she became ill in the weeks following her inoculation. Tell that poor father it’s unfortunate his beautiful child is now bedridden, but hey, on the plus side, at least she won’t get cervical cancer! It’s a small consolation, isn’t it?

 

  Simon Harris and Tony O’Brien et al have a legal and moral obligation to make parents fully aware of any known associated risks related to this vaccine. In addition, they should also give parents’ advice regarding other options available to them when trying to minimise, or more importantly, eradicate, the risk of HPV transmission in their children. Education, empathy and understanding are the way forward.

  My advice, for what it’s worth readers, is to talk to your family doctor.

 

No need for PSC,

just Google us

 

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon has concerns regarding the mandatory public services card – and I would agree with her. Okay, apparently around 2.8 million citizens have already been issued with this national identity, oops sorry, public service card, but what information is being collected and stored on it and what information will be shared and by whom?

  You see, as far as I’m aware, there are over 120 agencies who’re linking up via this card and I’d like to see a proper PR launch and fanfare around the initiative so we can be fully aware why it’s deemed mandatory for us to be issued with one.

  Now I’m not opposed to having it per se because, like most readers, I’ve got nothing to hide; but by Regina ‘I’ve got the power, and I’m not afraid to use it’  Doherty stamping her little foot issuing decrees all round without so much as an information campaign it kinda smacks of a political PR disaster and this makes people suspicious.

  Yes, even those insufferable narcissistic bores who choke on their need for validation and post every banal aspect of their insignificant lives at 15 minute intervals on Facebook are getting neurotic over the Government knowing everything about them via the swipe of a card. Sure at this stage I’d say Google knows more about these attention-seeking harpies than any State body ever could, so er, unclench and suck it up.   

We need flood prevention Leo, not clean-up operations

 

As communities count the cost of last week’s horrific and unprecedented weather where roads caved in, bridges collapsed, lives were devastated, animals drowned and cars and homes were swept away, I have to say it’s a miracle nobody was killed. And as I heard Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD promising to do everything he can to help, pledging to “ensure that every possible assistance is available to persons affected by the event and to ensure that damaged road and bridge infrastructures are addressed as soon as possible”; I have to say I believe him. I believe Minister Moran will do everything he can to help those poor unfortunates trying to pick up the remnants of what is now quite clearly a disaster region. My heart goes out to each and every one of those families.

  With Ireland moving into unchartered waters (no pun intended whatsoever folks), it’s clear that climate change has not only arrived, it’s here to stay, and last week’s horrors are a sign of scarier things to come. And don’t think it’s just going to affect those of us living in so-called blackspot areas, it’s going to affect us all and what we need is leadership and a long-term plan. And while the much-touted €430 million ‘flood relief’ budget is an impressive amount, our Government (the bigwigs in their ivory tower in Dublin) need to get to grips with the fact that we are a little island resting precariously on the tip of the Atlantic – meaning we are dangerously exposed to the elements – and stop engaging in an annual clean-up operation and instead put in place intervention strategies for flood prevention! We need to impede and block this ruination, devastation and destruction of property and avert the desolation now being felt by families in Donegal!

  The good and the brave people of Athlone, Athleague and other plucky Roscommon residents (and readers in surrounding counties) know too well the type of structural and financial damage climate change can cause. Add to that the emotional tsunami that can erupt in the aftermath as hard-working families realise they’ve lost everything they once held dear.

  Now while Leo eventually touched down in Donegal, uttering what could arguably be Discover Ireland’s new tag line…you have to see it to believe it and pledging “a very strong central Government approach to assist the people of Inishowen in the weeks ahead,” I want to know why his initial response was to make a Twitter video rather than make an immediate visit to the stricken area? Perhaps he didn’t have his designer waterproof socks ready? That must be it.

  He did say “If we continue to manage the economy well so additional revenues will allow us to increase that budget in years to come and I’m sure that will be done.” Reassuring, but can we be confident he’ll deliver? In the meantime, perhaps as he’s so fond of trawling social media, Leo could do some research around the impact climate change is having on this country and the ways in which we can tackle it ASAP!

 

There’s something about Mary

 

Former teacher, now Minister for Breaking Rank…sorry, Minister of State at the Department of Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor believes teachers who do the same job should get the same pay. Well I’d imagine that’s what Mary said, but the Sunday Indo quotes her thus: “Everybody that does the same job deserves the same pay” – and, as any good teacher and grammar tyrant like me will tell you, the word ‘who’ refers to people and teachers are people and the word ‘that’ refers to things and teachers are not things.

  Aaah but I digress, and wonder if Mary may perhaps be a little contrary due to her own two-tier pay experience since Leo unveiled his dream team revealing she wouldn’t be getting the extra annual €16,288. I mean, imagine being forced to eke out an existence on a Minister of State salary of €124,439. As soon as my heart stops bleeding I’ll set up a ‘go fund me’ page. Promise!

  Look, while I’m all for equal pay for equal work and support teachers, and while Mary probably saw this as an opportunity to climb on her high horse, I’d like to remind her that there’s a lot to be said for experience and it’s obvious newly-qualified teachers won’t have the same experience as their seasoned colleagues. You see, I believe this situation is not so much an equal pay issue, rather it’s a starting off salary issue, but I’ll give the lovely Mary an ‘A’ for serving as a highbrow cultural surrogate for those who believe in a universal working wage, irrespective of experience or qualifications.

Ros Comáin Abú!

I was disappointed for the Roscommon U-17s’ who put up a heroic fight in Croker last Sunday but despite the fact it just wasn’t their day, the team should be enormously proud of themselves. They’ll take that title and bring it home next year. I’m sure of it. Maith thú go léir. Ros Comáin Abú!

 

Brexiteers: boldly going nowhere

 

While the Brits have laid out their plans regarding what they’d like, i.e. a ‘seamless and frictionless’ border between us, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is sceptical, warning we should prepare for a hard Brexit. Rightly so, given last week’s statement from the UK, which I have to say reads more like a shopping list than a credible, reliable and viable policy.  

  You see, (and I don’t mean any disrespect to my British friends, readers, or indeed my husband…ya know I love ya darling), I really do worry that our lovely neighbours have sat down, had a cup of tea and a hob nob, composed a wish-list as opposed to a well thought out strategy that’ll firmly define their blueprint for Brexit – and hoped for the best. Now that’s just downright dodgy and – dare I say – disrespectful to us.  

  This latest development regarding the Irish border (delivered in a much-anticipated statement), leads me to pose the question; just how delusional are these jolly hockey sticks Brexiteers, and just how thick do they think we are? I mean, why in their wildest dreams would they assume we’d be so obtuse as a nation to agree to them leaving the customs union without having a customs border? Not only will we not wear it, the EU won’t wear it either.  

  You see, while we do not want a physical structure-type border on this island (it would be disastrous), while we want – and indeed while we are entitled to – to travel across this country freely as Irish citizens, the enthusiastic Brexiteers cannot reap all of the benefits of the customs union and the single market and expect to have none of the costs or restrictions that go with it. It’s just not gonna happen.

  However, what has become clear is this. The UK appears to be unprepared to explore and come to terms with the whole reality of Brexit and are instead unaware that the consequence of their wish-list, (which is to refuse to entertain the idea of either a sea border or a physical border) will see us all living in a smugglers’ paradise with Irish jobs, Irish businesses and Irish citizens being the clear victims. My suggestion: go back to the drawing board chaps and, keeping in mind our ‘special relationship’ and the Good Friday Agreement, come up with a credible and doable plan to solve a problem that you created.

Ooops, I think he did it again!

Another week, another Trump story! Yes readers, it appears the US president’s combative and unrestrained botched response tactics, (which have only served to embolden white supremacists) knows absolutely no bounds!

  I was sickened that in the wake of the Charlottesville riots, the bimbo wrangler unapologetically engaged in his usual and ignorant ‘this is my opinion, deal with it,’ manner and quite literally communicated to the world that there is in his tiny mind, under that multi-directional matted weave with more flyaways than Aer Lingus, a place for racists, Nazi flag flyers and the Ku Klux Klan. 

  Trump and his views are mind-bogglingly distorted to the extent that he is an individual who cannot and who will not be stage-managed. He is an individual who is a loose cannon. He is an individual who has no political knowhow and he is an individual who has absolutely no sense or knowledge of his country’s history. And yet, alarmingly (at the time of writing) only a mere forty per cent of Americans think this idiot deserves to be impeached, removed from office and sent back under the rock from whence he came. For God’s sake America, when former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is congratulating your president for what he calls his “courage to tell the truth”, I have to ask you if there is something seriously twisted with your society when, given the stats, the majority of you are still supporting a creep who refused to unequivocally condemn criminals and racists who engaged in behaviour that was, in all honesty, a national and shameful tragedy.

I’m sick of our decayed and defective health system

Did you know we pay the third highest per head of population for our health service compared to taxpayers in the EU? For example, if you want it broken down, we actually pay 15 per cent more per head of population than they do in France. However, I bet the French don’t get the abysmally poor return for their money that we do.

  I make this comment given last week’s revelations by the Irish Dental Association who said ‘the public dental service is failing children who are waiting as long as 12 years for their first dental screening.’ As a mother and a taxpayer, I think this is a disgrace. Through no fault of our own, we are saddled with a health service that’s not only dysfunctional but has nobody’s interest at heart except for its own vested benefits within its own decayed and defective system. Just sayin’.

Is obesity a growing problem with Irish toddlers?

 

While eating my breakfast (a selection of fresh fruit, walnuts and ground linseeds – I only mention the contents given this week’s subject matter), I decided to switch on Ireland AM to catch the news. I was too late but I managed to catch a very disturbing interview with Temple Street Hospital’s Dr. Grace O’Malley who had some very unsettling statistics regarding the state of our children’s health. Dr. O’Malley, a director at the hospital, shockingly revealed that babies “as young as 15 months are being treated for obesity” at her clinic. In fact, so concerned is the good doc, she’s calling for obesity to be a focus of the new national children’s hospital.

  Now look folks, I’m going to sound like a judgemental aul wagon. but based on this expert’s statistics, my humble opinion is this…if your toddler is dangerously overweight and there’s no underlying medical problem at the root of it (I’m not talking about children who’re living with a genetic, hormonal or medical condition, nor am I referring to cute curvy kiddies; rather I’m alluding to detrimentally obese babies – so no letters please), then I’m afraid that you, as their parent, should hang your head in shame. To be blunt, you’re failing them! How dare anyone call himself or herself a responsible, caring and loving mother/father/guardian and then feed their small child an over-abundance of fizzy drinks, biscuits and crappy junk food to the point of reaching morbid obesity! How dare any parent be so dense as to neglect their tiny toddler to such an extent they fail to realise they’re piling on unhealthy pounds. As parents, we know we must teach our children to form healthy eating habits and that means making healthy choices, yet it’s clear this is not happening given Dr. O’Malley’s findings that “around 90,000 children are obese across the country.”

  As a mother, I know it’s difficult for parents. We can’t just steam a bit of broccoli, pop it in front of a 10-month-old and expect them to love it. I raised two fussy divas who hated vegetables. But we must make that little green broccoli tree and those carrot sticks exciting for them to eat and importantly, between meals, we must not fill them up with ice cream or chicken McNuggets because if we do, then we’re big Mc-Dopes who are sowing the precarious seeds of such dangerous and deadly medical conditions as heart disease, diabetes, the risk of getting cancer and the menace of becoming an ailing adult with serious long-term health problems.

  We all unquestionably deserve a treat. I’m not saying don’t treat your toddlers/children, but normalising junk food as their staple diet is not just detrimental to both their physical and mental health, it’s creating a debilitating food-related crisis that’ll follow them into adulthood. Remember, as parents, their life and their future is in our hands! Time to step up and take control.

The fresh prince of Pyongyang v the toxic tweeter! 

Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s little dude with the kick-ass fresh fade hair-do, is threatening the US with all-out war! Yes readers, the hobbit who isn’t tall enough to go on any of the rides at Tayto Park has the entire world on edge, leading Donald Trump, the man who feverishly draws red lines like a toddler let loose with a box of markers in playschool (he told the world he was sending a powerful ‘armada’ to the Korean peninsula while it was er, really heading in the opposite direction), to retaliate last week, telling the trendsetting tyrant that America’s ready to rumble with weapons that are “locked and loaded.” And while Beavis and Butthead continue the hair-pulling, our own government’s advice in the event of a nuclear emergency abroad is this…“Go in, Stay in, Tune in.” And er wha? Wait for the TV licence inspector to call? Don’t believe me? Log onto emergencyplanning.ie/nuclear-incidents.

  One thing’s for certain: as a paranoid, despotic little smurf and a narcissistic, attention-seeking bully brings us all to the brink of war, Ireland remains totally unprepared!

RIP Gentleman Jason

Attacked while he lay helpless, Irishman Jason Corbett was brutally and callously murdered by his second wife Molly Martens and her father Thomas Martens. The Martens’ were found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 20-25 years on 9th of August. And, while this conviction is not a cause for celebration, at least we can say justice has been done.

  Of course the verdict won’t bring Jason back to his family, to his now orphaned children, nor can we ever wipe from our minds the disturbing details regarding the condition in which Mr. Corbett’s body was found; of the injuries he sustained as a result of a murder so brutal, it will likely haunt his entire family for the rest of their lives. 

  And for what? Why did the Martens’ wipe out this gentleman’s life? What was going through their unimaginably deranged minds as they made those beautiful kids orphans? Unequivocal hatred…that’s what! May the Martens’ rot in prison, may Jason and his first wife Mags rest in peace and may their family be able to work through their pain with the same dignity they showed throughout this painful trial, move through their great loss and honour Jason’s memory for as long as they all live.

Arrivederci to all the president’s men!

 

 Does anyone remember ‘The Thick of It,’ the British sit-com that satirised the inner workings of a modern government? My hero was the Malcolm Tucker character, the fictional PM’s equally fictional spindoctor whose famous line goes…“If you resign after a week it looks like you’ve f***ed up; if the PM sacks you after a week, it looks like he’s f***ed up” (or something like that).

  Well that very sentiment sprang to mind last week when, following a series of controversial meeja appearances, Anthony Scaramucci, the fleeting White House Communications Director, was sacked after just 10 days in the job. Now personally I felt the man whose communications strategy was to go on a vulgar expletive-laden tirade should have been given his P45 immediately following his profane invective to reporter Ryan Lizza from The New Yorker where his cardinal mistake was to forget using three very important words…’off the record!’ You see, if he’d said this, Lizza, like all professional journos, would probably never have quoted him. 

  Look, Trump’s administration has all the ingredients of a hilarious reality show, which would be grand if it wasn’t real life and Chump wasn’t seen as the most powerful leader of the free world; a situation that’s seriously worrying, because other leaders have historically looked to the US for guidance and direction. I mean, in a profoundly moronic and sobering moment of reflection, I realised while writing this, that Trump has done absolutely nothing, nada, zilch, zero since he was elected to office, other than to sack the director of the FBI. I mean, he’s passed no relevant legislation because he’s too busy tweeting ‘A great day in the White House,’ and ‘Fake news,’ and Doofus continues to do this while Russia is carrying out drills on NATO’s border and North Korea launches missiles.

  To be honest, there’s a clear pattern emerging with this amadán and it’s this…he’s completely forgotten he’s been elected, that he’s actually now on the clock and it looks like he’s still campaigning for the Presidency. I’m not sure about you readers, but personally I cannot wait for James Comey’s tell-all tome!

Is Celebrity Big Brother defining fame in a downward slope?

I’m lovin’ ‘Celebrity Big Brother’. It’s my end of summer guilty pleasure; but seriously, who are these people? These no marks who doddered into da’ house like a pack of abandoned outcasts from that barren no-man’s-land they once called stardom? Oh yeah, this year we’ve got the Who’s Who of Nobody-Ville all vying to pick up a desperately needed few bob before their mansions are repossessed! 

  Once deemed ‘a social experiment’, it’s really interesting to see how this previously promising series has gone from the first episode’s scraping the bottom of the barrel formula, to recently plummeting to record depths of mediocrity by securing wannabes desperate for free stuff and the glare of the spotlight. For example, Derek Acorah, a psychic with his own spirit guide whose notable achievement is that he can communicate with the dead! Oh that’ll be useful, because when this series finishes, dippy Derek is gonna need a séance to resurrect his dearly departed career!

  Then, as if the production company’s guest booker decided to define fame in a downward slope, we got a contestant who appears to be trying to turn every aspect of her life into an opportunity – gangsta’s moll Marissa Jade, (known for her little turn on US reality show Mob Wives). Classy! Not really…not when you’re a woman who clearly thinks shacking up with a jailbird affords you some hard-nosed diva-esque street cred! It doesn’t, hon! You see, dropping names and er, picking them up again, and falling for an ex-con, doesn’t make you special at all, rather it makes you sooooo basic and sooooo boring!

  Now these two ‘celebrity housemates’ alone make me wonder if the nauseous underclass are slowly rising to dominate our viewing time once again folks. You see, looking at the show’s latest bunch of needy nobodies, it strikes me that, when put together, the collective wattage of their entertainment value shines barely brighter than a lava lamp.

  As for former Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding…what happened to this stunning girl’s looks? Despite much controversy and a marked difference in her once flawless appearance, Harding has denied having cosmetic surgery…er, so why does the best looking one in the group now look like a squirrel is storing his nuts for winter inside her gob? And how come she couldn’t remember the words to her “favourite” Girls Aloud song, ‘The Promise’, and needed a cue card during what was (in all honesty) a pretty, eh, promising performance! I have to hand it to Sarah, the girl can sing. I predict a record deal…ker-ching!  

  However, with spite in her voice, I was disappointed to see that jealous Marissa, perpetuating the myth of the narcissistic green-eyed monster, had a dig at Sarah, saying if the warbler were one of the Spice Girls she’d be ‘Unseasoned’ Spice. Oooh quick, you’d better copyright that kooky little label Marissa before some unscrupulous hack steals it on you! 

  Seriously folks, and I say this without any hint of cynicism whatsoever, but methinks the Daz Doorstep Challenge couldn’t even clean up the acts on this season’s washed out line-up! But I’m lovin’ it!

 

 

 

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Roscommon