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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

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!

 

 

 

Stop brainwashing minimum wage workers into believing we’re ‘middle-class’ elite!

 

Last week, Leo-I’m-an-early-riser-I-get-up-at-6.45 am-Varadker struggled to explain how he, the esteemed leader of our country, the man we’re all looking up to, came to the conclusion that those of us on minimum wage (me…and, for the record, I rise daily at 5.45 am), could be considered as ‘middle class’ even though we struggle to pay our bills!

  Well swaddle me in Leo cheer folks, ‘cause following that little insight into the dashing doc’s psyche I actually came to the conclusion that our standard of living will not advance one iota until our minted (and possibly delusional leader) gets a reality check!

  You see, in my opinion, Mr. Varadkar TD, MD, GP and, ahem, STUD (to many of his admirers), could do with reading the latest CSO figures, which found that nearly half a million adults are home to roost with d’ mammy because they can’t afford a mortgage, meaning they’re living from hand to mouth! So I’d like to ask him would these be the ‘middle class’, ‘minimum wage’, ‘standard statistic’, citizens you’re talking about Leo or do you have some other theory in mind and if we begged you with our ever so polite middle class manners, would you share it with us? Pretty purleeesee!

  Look folks, for those living on minimum wage –and according to the CSO’s Quarterly National Household Survey, “over 10 per cent of Irish workers are being paid the equivalent of, or less than, the national minimum wage of €9.25 per hour” – can I just state the bl***ing obvious here for Leo? These workers, these voters, due to no fault of their own, are now expected to work for a lot less money; as in your government has no problem using highly qualified, experienced professionals like you and me as cheap labour while TDs have got the temerity to reinstate their own pay cuts – awarding themselves a €5,000 restoration – and then try to brainwash us, as if we’re intellectually barren pillocks, into believing we’re in the ‘middle class’ earning league!

  Oh come on Leo, you’re like the typical, cheesy, handsome pantomime Prince Charming, leading me to wonder who shoved a couple of blue birds into you? Dare I suggest, was it Bertie Ahern, because that performance on Vincent Browne was Bertie-esque at its best. Yeah, you keep peddling son, and maybe the mud won’t stick!  

  Now excuse me while I leg it to the supermarket to stock up on cheap wine before you lash a massive tax on my favourite “mind-bending drug!”

Electric cars: Not such a bright spark!

The Government’s latest lofty ambition is to phase out diesel and petrol cars with all new vehicles sold being capable of having zero emissions by 2030. That means by 2030, 800,000 of us could be driving electric vehicles, and while I welcome any measure that helps our environment, I want to know if the Government loses the €2 billion revenue generated from fuel excise last year alone, what cunning plan do they have in store for taxpayers to replace it?

  In addition, do we have the infrastructure for this ambitious move? At present we’ve got around 1,200 charging points across Ireland…hardly enough. So they’ll need to be increased and I suppose we, the driver, will be forced to pay rocketing electricity bills in order to fund this little venture. However, according to Minister Shane Ross, “infrastructure will not be a barrier” and the move will “actively set Ireland on the right path to decarbonisation and cleaner air.”  

  I’ve a quicker and cheaper solution to cleaner air Minister. TDs should stop spewing a load of bulls**t – that’ll severely cut the toxic emissions. Sure you couldn’t even fix a feckin’ water leak in the North-East last week, so while I’m all for a cleaner environment, I’ll believe your battery breakthrough theory when it happens…if it happens. Vroom, vroom!

C’mon the Rossies!

Didn’t we almost have it all? Just how sweet was that taste of a near-victory last Sunday – but alas, despite the lads’ best efforts, despite them rising to the occasion of it all, despite them getting the better of Mayo in the opening minutes, and despite me screaming at d’telly when they scored, rendering hubby to run in from the shed thinking I’d been attacked; the Rossies failed to gain the advantage. 

  But never mind, I’m sure come bank holiday Monday they’ll bring their best game forward, do battle and do the bizzo in Croker! I won’t mention the petty booing levelled at Andy Moran, only to say, to those who took part; do try and mature before next week. That behaviour is not indicative of the genuinely decent and lovely Roscommon people I’ve come to know! Mind you, I won’t lie, this Dub will also be cheering All-Ireland champs Dublin on Saturday; so as I’ll be unleashing my inner scream queen this weekend, I should probably get poor hubby a set of ear plugs!

 

Why I back automatic drink-driving suspension

 

Last week I applauded grief-stricken families of victims of road traffic accidents as they backed Minister for Transport Shane Ross’s proposal under the Road Traffic Amendment Bill relating to anyone caught over the legal drink-driving limit.

  And while I’m sympathetic to those living in isolated rural areas (of which I am one, and I like my few drinks), I personally hope this campaign – which will see any fool caught with 50 to 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood automatically kicked off the road for three months – is successful and that the Bill is passed swiftly and without further nonsense from those who oppose it.

  I have never, nor would I ever, drink and drive. You see, when I was a young girl, on a cold, dark December night, on a lonely north Dublin back road five weeks before Christmas, some selfish cretin took the life of my beloved grandfather. This lout was a paralytic, inebriated, out of his mind, belligerent drunk who got behind the wheel of a car and mowed down Denis Kerins, (Pop), a man I loved dearly, leaving me and my father – his son – traumatised and forever crushed by our grief. This menace, this killer…because that’s what he is, made the decision of his own free will to impair his ability to drive, to get behind the wheel of his car and to use his vehicle as a murder weapon to cruelly, cold-bloodedly annihilate my granddad; and, even as I write readers, anger and sadness still ooze from my every pore.

  So while I’m no fan of Shane Ross at all, I do feel that at least he’s doing something to save the lives of Irish people. Look, despite increased awareness, the dim and the witless disturbingly continue to drink and drive, with alcohol being a factor in 38 per cent of fatalities on our roads –and I am absolutely gobsmacked as to why some TDs (including a few of our local ones) continue to fail to see sense and oppose this legislation, rather than back it!

  I mean, for feck sake, get a clue people, this is a measure that will save precious lives, your own life, my life, the lives of your family, the lives of my family, so what is it that you don’t understand? What is it that hasn’t penetrated your brain? To those TDs who’re so concerned about the impact this disqualification will have on rural life, here’s some advice…stop procrastinating and come up with a solution for us; put in proposals to fix our calamitous drink-driving abuse, lobby to increase Garda numbers and enhance rural transport schemes and stop bleating like a load of bloody sheep.

Have domestic abusers got impaired memories?

OJ Simpson was (readers of a certain vintage will remember) accused, tried and acquitted in 1995 of the grisly stabbing to death of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman. Back in the day, pre-trial, we heard stories of how cops were called ‘eight times’ to the Simpson household and how on one occasion he’d allegedly beaten Nicole so badly (New Year’s Day 1989), she’d needed hospital treatment.

  This violent incident is alleged to have earned Simpson 30 days in the slammer and a place on a year-long programme for domestic abusers. I mention the above ‘cause I find it difficult to understand how, given this documented history, the ex-football player/actor could have professed to have “spent a conflict-free life” last week, while advocating to a parole board for his freedom from incarceration on a different offence, this time on ‘multiple robbery charges’ relating to a 2007 incident for which he has spent nine years doing time.

  Simpson also told the parole board – who’re clearly naïve individuals or perhaps they’re just idiots – that “no one ever accused me of pulling a weapon on them!” Wow...er, I think they did sunshine – they accused you of this very activity for 11 months between 9th of November 1994 trial jury swearing in; to opening statements on 24th of January 1995, until your acquittal on 3rd of October 1995. Bless, maybe sicko domestic abusers have impaired and fragmented memories?

Nóirín’s jolly holidays as rumpus rages on!

As the alleged ‘slush fund cover-up’ concerning the Garda Training College rages on, Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has headed off on her hollibobs – despite the rumpus and the fuss!

  Okay, she’s entitled to her annual leave, and one could argue if she stayed home and in work would it make a blind bit of difference to the outcome of the ‘fake breath test’ debacle, or indeed, the Policing Authority’s examination of the PAC report’s findings. No, it most certainly wouldn’t, and sure it could simply be a case of poor timing on the Commissioner’s part, a clash of dates so to speak…well, couldn’t it?

  So I suppose poor, put-upon Nóirín may as well sail off on her carefree jolly holidays and relax and unwind. Mind you folks, if an official report relating to me was produced and it contained such damning accusations, I’ll tell ya, I wouldn’t go swanning off sailing on the S.S. Couldn’t Give a Crap…noooo, I’d stick around, face the music and defend myself to the very last! Wouldn’t you do the same?

 

Trump: An idiot abroad?

 

Much comment has been made of French President Emmanuel and First Lady Brigitte Macron’s relationship, mainly due to the large age difference between the pair. Personally, I believe it’s nobody’s business that Mrs. Macron is significantly older than her husband!   

  However, in the world of an ill-mannered individual whose labelled some women as dogs, pigs and slobs, where wives are seen as pretty young things, nay, arm candy, Donald Trump’s remarks regarding Mrs. Macron’s looks were not just patronising and downright insulting. They were also perfectly in keeping with what we’ve come to expect from this lumbering oaf, whose diplomatic skills I couldn’t locate even if I had NASA’s sophisticated electron microscope!

  How Melania copes being manacled to this revolting individual, who’d hit on the Pope if He drove a better car (no disrespect to the Holy Father), is anyone’s guess, but cope she does; and we must give her credit for having a strong stomach! Perhaps she loves him! Or perhaps she just craves designer shoes and handbags!

  Me too; but girls, given the choice of marriage to Trump and copious financial fringe benefits, or jumping into a lion’s den with a pork chop tied around my neck, I’d say marinate me in apple sauce, stick a rosette on my ass and lower me in lads!

  Look I’m not criticising Melania, I’m not…no woman ----– including this gorgeous, intelligent one with oodles of potential -– wants to be treated like an ornament, so perhaps the marriage is a kind of business arrangement. She’s got the looks and the Tiffany bracelet; he’s got the money and the mansion. However, wouldn’t it be great if Trump had some manners too, and refrained from looking another woman up and down, evaluating her in a highly objective and sexist manner, then making salacious and titillating comments about her in front of the world and the mother of his youngest child, as was the case where he so publicly dehumanised Madame Macron last week!

  I mean, how uncomfortable must it have been for Melania when her meal ticket, sorry husband, clasped Brigitte’s hand and with a twinkle in his eye we haven’t seen since Hilary’s emails were hacked, exclaimed “You’re in such good shape,” and then, practically high-fiving her bewildered husband, turned to him and repeated…“she’s in such good physical shape.” Well I’m certain that’s what Trump said readers, I mean his penis was shouting so loud at the sight of a captivating female in a short(ish) dress, I couldn’t quite hear his voice! 

  Look, maybe it was just a clumsy compliment, maybe I’m over-reacting, I mean at least the sleazebag didn’t revert to form and disgracefully grab the poor woman by her lady parts as he’s admitted he’s so fond of doing.  

Paschal’s pandora’s box

You’ve gotta love Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe, the man who never uses one sentence to confuse us when he can flower it out with a load of bulls**t.

  Of course I’m referring to his pledge to spend a portion of the money we don’t have, on crap we don’t need, like Metro North! Anything else in that box, Pandora? I don’t know about you folks, but I’m texting Hell to ask about the Devil’s exchange programme!

We know you’re upset Paul, but let it go!

Issues surrounding the Jobstown trial continue to rumble, with TD Paul Murphy reportedly accusing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of ‘defaming’ him when the latter accused the former of ‘thuggery’ during a Dáil debate last week relating to the protest.

  I feel Mr. Murphy is milking great mileage out of this trial, in which he and his co-accused were acquitted.  

  Now, I don’t support Joanie or Paul, nor do I condone violence, but I’m glad all accused in this case were acquitted because we have a right to protest peacefully, yada, yada, yada… However, as I understand, under Dáil privilege, comments can be made (and reported providing they’re accurate accounts of what was said in the House chambers) and protection is afforded to TDs (as enshrined in the Constitution) whereby they may speak freely and have an open debate, which is what Leo was doing. So I really cannot see where Mr. Murphy is going with this claim.

  And speaking of ‘claims,’ why did Anti Austerity Alliance TD Murphy, who’s entitled to an annual wage of €87,258 before tax, claim legal aid for the trial? Okay, he says he takes a ‘young worker’s wage’ of €1,800 a month after tax, but according to the Sunday World, he also ‘claimed €80 a day Dáil expenses every day during the trial’ and I find this an absolute disgraceful use of taxpayers’ money and feel he has a brass neck!  

  What also irks me is that Murphy continues to refer to three individuals whom he claims…there’s that word ‘claims’ again… committed ‘co-ordinated perjury’ during his trial, and these individuals, although not directly named but rather alluded to, haven’t been given their own right to reply.

  Now, again, I’m not taking anyone’s side, but in my view that’s grossly unfair and I want to ask if Mr. Murphy sees his own comment regarding a possible Garda conspiracy against him as an  abuse of his own personal Dáil privilege?

 

Why I’ve got issues with this ‘verified fan’ software!

 

As someone who writes for a living, I depend heavily upon my laptop and the World Wide Web, so you’d be forgiven for thinking I like to shop online…wrong! I hate it and avoid it whenever possible. Oh I’ve no problem going online for exploration and fact-finding to see what’s on offer and compare and contrast services and prices etc., but when it comes to actually purchasing an item, controlling nut job that I am, I like to conduct the transaction face to face. I like the human touch. It’s so much better, and private…that said, shopping online does have its advantages.

  However, when I read Ticketmaster, (which sells tickets for approximately eight thousand events annually in Ireland), is ‘considering using software to look at people’s social media to identify if they’re a genuine fan before allowing them to buy a ticket,’ my first reaction was…unprintable…my second one was “invasion of privacy or wha’?”

  Ticketmaster’s so-called proposed ‘Verified Fan’ software, will allegedly trawl through your personal social media pages to decide if they feel whether or not you, the buyer, an adult, has a right to spend your hard-earned money on their product! The utter cheek!

  This proposed activity raises all sorts of issues for me…none of which make me feel comfortable, especially if it involves what I would call spying (Ticketmaster would likely call it screening) on your online social activity, something which elevates this organisation into some sort of Demi God, and judge and jury status, telling you what you can and can’t do with your own money!

  Look, in my view this is not on, and while I’m not suggesting Ticketmaster are proposing to do anything untoward, I feel that consumers who agree to this procedure are either very silly or are clearly living on the corner of Delusional and Desperation Street because nobody should have ‘access all areas’ to your social media sites and private information and no ticket is worth this invasion. 

  Sure what if I wanted to purchase a ticket for someone who likes Fleetwood Mac (they’re regrouping with Stevie Nicks for a 2018 tour), but I can’t stand Fleetwood Mac…never got their mass appeal, but people close to me would appreciate a present of a ticket. Now as a non ‘verified fan,’ it’s clear, given this ‘sophisticated software,’ or as I call it, ‘uninvited intrusion’ into my private social media status, Ticketmaster would know I don’t like this group, so…does this mean they’ll intercept and block my purchase?

  And another thing…this possible infraction…what are they proposing to do with the information they find? Are they harvesting it and if so, where will it end up and what assurances are they giving consumers they’ll handle it in a responsible and legal manner? Privacy is a basic human right in this country; as citizens of this State, our Government has obligations relating specifically to the protection of our personal data. Now before I fall off my high horse, I’ll point out that even though the right to privacy is not specifically stated in Bunreacht na hÉireann (the Constitution), these rights are clearly implied by it and the Courts recognise those personal rights and the implications as set out by said Constitution. (I know, I’m a pedantic wagon).

  However, I will mention that while so-called ‘fundamental’ rights are not absolute, (certain restrictions can apply when it comes to the common good of citizens), I don’t think the likes of Ticketmaster or any other online seller can argue that the ‘common good’ of the Irish people is at risk if their ‘sophisticated software,’ is prevented from snooping, spying, encroaching and invading our personal social media posts for the sake of selectively selling a few tickets. What’s more important here folks…our Constitutional rights or some ticket vendor’s profit margins?

Catfight on a hot tin roof!

Cronyism? Surely not! Transparency and fairness?…well, it’s deffo a head scratcher, ‘cos the selection of former Attorney General, the very honourable and eminent Máire Whelan for a position she allegedly ‘never formally applied for,’ is, according to Labour’s Brendan Howlin, “absolutely wrong” and he wants Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “explain in very great detail,” how this whole debacle came about!

  Oooh, it’s like a Cat Fight on a Hot Tin Roof folks, what with the Minister responsible for Pens, Pencils and Rubbers…sorry Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s obvious displeasure at being demoted, I predict the Leo Roadshow is gonna make for some compulsive commenting…watch this space!

She works hard for the money!

My heart bleeds for former Xposé presenter Ruth O’Neill. You see, in what is one of the saddest stories I’ve ever read, poor little orphan Annie Ruthie was actually expected to work “five days a week, sometimes six,” with those slave drivers at TV3 forcing her to do her “own hair and make-up and clothes” and (we were told) “when it comes to the ‘glam’ side, there isn’t really any support.”

  Never mind diddums, you’ll be snapped up in London, sure aren’t ya a great girl altogether; and it’s obvious you can multi-task, what with wasting our time, being unproductive and slagging off your ex-employer, the offers will flood in! 

 

Is ISPCC ad campaign sending some kids into a tizzy?

 

Who’d have thought an advertisement designed to help kids deal with stress could actually result in sending some of them into a tizzy?

  Let me explain. Apparently that wonderful charity, who do amazing work, the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) has, according to a statement released last week, responded to negative feedback regarding their latest awareness commercial’s content, taking it ‘seriously, and amended some elements of this important campaign as a result.’ Well done to them for not ignoring this reaction.   

  Now for readers who’ve yet to view this controversial commercial, it’s called ‘Headbombz’ and it displays cartoon character children whose heads actually explode due to harbouring worries and anxieties and not talking about what’s on their minds. The exploding cartoon head is then scattered around the classroom, or playground, and I don’t know about you but as a grandmother whose granddaughter is in the charity’s 8-10 year old target group, I feel the message could actually result in scaring some kids.

  Perhaps I’m wrong; I mean, this is a charity founded in 1956, and is a successor to the original NSPCC, founded in 1889, so they’ve clearly got a credible amount of experience, knowledge, research and time invested in this campaign. However, if I were an ‘on edge’ 8-10 year old kid who desperately needed a non-judgemental support system and saw this ad when I turned on the telly or went to the movies, I’d imagine my anxiety levels would go through the roof and I’d probably have a panic attack whilst waiting on my bits and pieces to erupt all over the poor kid sitting next to me. But maybe I’m just a drama queen!

  Now while the charity has amended some elements of their campaign (adding advisory notes to school packs) they’re not removing it altogether. Mind you they are withdrawing the ad from cinemas, saying ‘This decision was taken given that the cinema viewing experience is completely different to the in-home experience,’ and I have to agree. A big, booming screen experience could prove to be much more impactful (and not in a positive way) for some children, especially ones who’re hyper-sensitive to loud noises or who may experience a sensory overload due to the explosive bright lights contained in the ads.

  Look, we all know that introducing an artistic graphic element into an ad campaign forms one of the most basic components of raising awareness and getting the core message across. In this instance the message is to encourage kids to share their anxieties, and God love them, they’ve a lot to contend with these days. But I believe on this occasion, there could have been a more inventive (and psychological) approach displayed by the creative team in order to make their content less vivid and more appealing. 

  On the subject of young children and their positive viewing experiences, I discovered our own C&L Movie Plex runs what’s called a ‘Sensory Kids Movie Club,’ catering for ‘parents/carers, babies and toddlers.’ Members meet on the second Monday of every month and I think it’s a great initiative and fair play to the lovely ladies I spoke with who told me that while the club is especially suited to those who have “kiddies with specific needs and who may not like loud noises, or who might like to chat during the screenings,” all are welcome.   

  Ah sure when it comes to innovation, it takes Roscommon People readers to lead the way.

  Maybe the ISPCC’s ad team should drop down here for a bit of inspiration. Just throwin’ it out there.

Reality pills needed in Dáil?

I see some senior Government ministers are still waiting on those spine donors to arrive, given they don’t have the gumption to face up to the reality that, when it comes to the possibility of a terror attack in this country, we’re vulnerable and totally ill-equipped!

  You see, according to a report in the Irish Times, our leaders insist “Gardaí have been given every resource available to assist them in the fight against terrorism.’ Now perhaps if I was delusional or, indeed, a 12-year-old who’d blindly believe anything an authoritative adult would tell them, I’d swallow that. But I’m no eejit and I know when I’m being stage-managed.

  Look, what are those resources: stab vest and pepper spray? I mean c’mon, this is all the poor first responders have on their person and following top Security Analyst Michael Murphy’s appearance on RTE’s Prime Time, whose expert opinion is ‘We still have the same intelligence structures that were set up after the Dublin/Monaghan bombing in 1974 and nothing really has changed since then,’ I think I’m justified in being worried. For God’s sake folks, given we could barely deal with last month’s cyber hack, I think it’s safe to assume that Dáil Éireann is experiencing a severe shortage of reality pills because it’s clear to everyone, especially the terrorists, that our security systems are c**p; and that’s not the fault of the Gardaí!  

 

 

Focus on Leo’s policies and actions – not his origins and identity!

 

 

As Leo Varadkar continues to make world headlines following his elevation as the new leader of Fine Gael, I personally find it offensive that many international media organisations are still focusing on the fact he is openly gay, the son of an Indian immigrant – and effectively tagging him as a ‘minority leader.’

Now I’ve said it many times; I’m not a fan of Fine Gael, however, if I may just mention that if I did support this party, given the two candidates, Simon Coveney would have been my preferred choice. The simple reason being, when he was Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I would have worked closely with his Department when, as an interested party, Ireland’s largest and oldest animal welfare charity, the Dublin SPCA, (I was head of their  Education and Communications Department) tasked me with putting together a consultative blueprint regarding what I felt were the core elements required when it came to animal welfare in this country when drafting legislation for  the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013.

I found Mr. Coveney to be quiet, reflective, willing to listen and someone who considered all angles before jumping head first into decision-making. In short, I quite liked him as an individual. And, during the leadership contest hustings, while many had written him off as ‘boring’ or ‘unapproachable,’ ‘aloof’ or even ‘too cautious,’ I have to say I would personally be more drawn to electing someone who engages in the process of careful consideration and synthesis before arriving at a decision. This means, when it comes to our country’s future, I favour emotional maturity over Hollywood heroics; stability over excitability and agreeability and dependability over combativeness and impulsiveness any day.

Look, we only need to look across the globe at the US to witness the results of appointing an ostentatious, self-promoting, narcissistic goon who dominates social media and the front pages of newspapers to understand how electing a skilled orator whose only talent is his ability to attract and inspire followers, can result in a nation getting lumbered with a lousy leader! Now while I do not suggest there are, nor would I ever draw comparisons between the honourable Mr. Varadkar and Donald Chump, I will mention that the former clearly has, er, let’s say, a combative streak…otherwise how could he have risen to the top so quickly?

However, as it seems Fine Gael has fallen under Leo’s spell and his revolutionary promises, perhaps I’m wrong to worry. Perhaps this little country of ours is now ready for a charismatic, controversial leader who is effectively painting us a picture of a very different Ireland; I sincerely hope so, and wish Leo (and us) the best of luck. I believe we’re all going to need it, especially given the rest of the world now appears to believe that the trivial details and technicalities of Ireland’s politics aren’t hinged on how Leo is going to protect us in the event of a terror attack, nor is it the resolution surrounding the scandal that is our housing crisis; nay, it’s all hinged on the sexual orientation and race of our cutesy progressiveness in appointing a gay gentleman as our country’s leader!

Now while I would hail Leo’s appointment as a wonderfully diverse decision, and I’m sure he’ll do his very best for our country…(I like that one of his priorities is to set up a Cobra-style agency to prepare for us for the possibility of terror attacks), insinuating we granted him a hall pass for being gay, or for the sake of being seen as a diverse nation, is an absolute disgrace and an insult to both Mr. Varadkar and to us, the people he’s leading. This conviction diminishes Leo as a man, and as a politician; skimming over his career and his success to date, and neither he, nor indeed any of us, should ever be defined by our so-called ‘differences.’ I congratulate Leo, and I’ll judge him by his actions.

State protects children’s rights? What a joke!

 

The Children’s Referendum of 2012 promised our kiddies a range of safeguards guaranteed to protect their innocence, yet, five years later, we’re still failing them!

Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, an honest man, a thorough man, as Special Rapporteur on Child Protection carried out a huge body of work evidently showing us that while Gardaí are removing kids from certain ‘barbaric’ situations, Tusla, the agency tasked with protecting them, are alarmingly often returning them!

This allegation poses a litany of questions regarding Tusla’s practices, and it’s clear this State agency isn’t just having an occasional bad day, rather it’s spectacularly under-performing, and we, as human beings should be downright ashamed of ourselves for sitting back and accepting this shoddy treatment of vulnerable children!

Tusla does do some great work but I’m sick of this recurring theme where children’s rights are being ignored and, in some cases, their abuse is being exacerbated. It’s time for major reforms in order to stop endangered children falling through this agency’s cracks and alleged episodic  substandard service; it’s time for this agency (whose funding for 2017 is €713 million) to get a bloody clue, put a national policy in place and do its job!

 

I salute the British people’s incredible spirit!

 

I became aware of the nasal-toned, baby-voiced Ariana Grande through her ‘Cat Valentine’ character in Nickelodeon’s ‘Victorious’…my granddaughter, who was a huge fan, forced me to sit through episode after episode with her. I didn’t like Grande then and my opinion didn’t improve following her famous donut-licking “I hate Americans. I hate America,” incident resulting in her petty apology, blaming her disgusting actions on her ‘frustration with childhood obesity.’  

However, following her organisation of the ‘One Love Manchester’ concert last week, which I sat through from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed, I have to say while I haven’t changed my mind about this ‘singer’, because it’s far too warm for hell to have frozen over – I do like to give credit where it’s due…so, n-n-n-nice one, Ariana. 

Mind you, for me, the stand-out performance of the event was the moment I spotted the uniformed policeman grasping hands with kiddies, dancing and singing, showcasing the very best of British Bobbies, and I was soon sobbing my heart out, the enormity of what’s going on in the world hitting me – we had earlier made contact with my husband’s family in London to clarify they were all safe and sound – and, through that cop’s actions, I felt the incredible spirit, guts, determination and resolve of the British people; and I knew, in that instant, terror and hate will never prevail. Why? Because we will not tolerate it!

Strangers in the night – why I think online dating is a risky business

 

Once thought of as a strange way of meeting someone, online dating has now lost its stigma, with attitudes around it growing more positive by the day – and I’d say there’s many a Roscommon People reader who has met the love of their lives, or at least set up a romantic liaison, following interaction on some online dating site or on social media. However, is this a constructive and encouraging trend or is it something we need to be concerned about?

  Last week, we all heard the horrific details surrounding 31-year-old Dublin mother Sonia Blount’s tragic and brutal murder at the hands of her devious, sadistic ex-boyfriend, Eric Locke; a narcissistic thug, whose grandiose sense of self-importance and savage nature wouldn’t allow him accept that this poor woman had dumped him. Using a fake Facebook profile, (easily done), depraved Locke lured this beautiful single mother who’d previously broken off their relationship due to her being ‘in fear of him’ (forcing her to cut off all contact between them), to a hotel room where he subjected her to a level of such abominable torture I cannot go into detail because it upsets me too much – and this is a family newspaper – before finally strangling and suffocating her to death. I have to tell you folks, as a mother of a daughter who uses online dating sites, Sonia Blount’s murder has sent shockwaves through my system and I don’t know how her grief-stricken family and her orphaned little boy will ever come to terms with what happened to this beautiful young woman, but I pray they somehow manage to cope.

  And so, if anyone reading this hasn’t quite found what they’re looking for in a partner/friend/future spouse down in the local pub or nightclub, and is instead planning a romantic liaison this week with a stranger they’ve met online, in order to make sure it doesn’t turn into a dangerous liaison, I’d like to offer readers the same tips I’ve offered my own daughter…I hope you don’t mind.

  Read the profile carefully: Is the information a bit sketchy? Is the profile pic a bit vague and grainy? Is there a mobile number? If so, check it out, ring it, see who answers.

  Do you have any social media friends in common? If so, do a recce, get their honest opinions regarding his/her personality – now I don’t mean do they snore in bed or pick food out of their teeth; what you want to ascertain before your date is…will I be safe?

  If you don’t like what you see/hear, delete and block! Hubby jokes that my own ‘blocked’ list is longer than my friend list, and believe me, I have good reason for doing this.

  When meeting up for the first, second or third date, always choose a neutral, public place and please folks, never do it in a hotel room or at yours or their house. No randomer needs to know your personal address that soon into the relationship.

  Plan your exit: Meet during your work lunch break, that way you’ve got a great excuse to make a hasty exit, should you need to, and colleagues will surely miss you if you’re late. When I was working on a potentially dangerous investigative piece for a TV documentary some years ago I had to meet an – oh what’s the polite euphemism here…yes, a skin-crawling sycophant. He suggested a South Dublin restaurant and I had a female colleague sit discreetly at a nearby table keeping watch. That was how risky the situation was likely to get. So always have back-up whereby you can go to the loo and text your mate.

  Look, we can all accept that dating poses a risk, but cyber-dating poses a higher probability that something may go wrong, so treat dating like driving your car…buckle up and keep an eye out for that twisted headbanger doing 100km in a 50km zone. Please take care. 

I want to cruise on a Kwaka

Well, well, well, folks, if any of you’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ since the 1986 release of Top Gun, buckle up, ‘cos we’re once again gonna go through the Danger Zone as Lover Boy Tom Cruise confirms there’s a sequel in the pipeline! Oh yeah, La La Land’s favourite pocket-rocket will once again star as Lt. Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchel and Take My Breath Away…swoon! Well Tom won’t; I really don’t lust after men who’re the size of a Smurf, but his Kawasaki Ninja GPz900R will…OMG…I want, I want…it’s perfect for short a**e riders like myself and I’ve no problem sitting through a movie, even one where the star looks like Mr. Potato Head with Ken Doll hair, if I can see ‘Maverick’ tear around on that machine…engine on full throttle…oh, me nerves!

Pot luck – it’s never a reliable defence strategy

As we still try to come to terms with the horrific aftermath of a suicide bomber’s legacy of carnage and death, unleashed on the wonderful city of Manchester, maiming and murdering innocent people, including young children and their parents out enjoying what was probably the kids’ first pop concert, I have some questions for our Government.

  When and how are we going to action a national security plan to prevent a similar atrocity happening here? When are we going to take our kid gloves off? Look, our Gardaí and our Defence Forces do an incredible job but, given that so far this year, the terror death toll is rising, i.e.  London, four dead, St Petersburg, 14 dead, Stockholm four dead, Paris one dead (a cop), and Manchester, as I write, 22 dead… I have to ask what’s the story lads, are you going to wait until one of our cities’ citizens are added to this roll call of slaughter, or are you going to act now to protect us?

  I mean folks, nothing should ever take precedent over protecting our families’ lives and, given we’ve got a Government who goes into panic mode the second a snowflake falls – and, as we can’t deal with the overcrowding in A&Es – how would we deal with a serious incident requiring a major emergency response? How would we get the casualties through to A&E? Have we even got enough ambulances? Could our Ministers stop acting like pouting adolescents and could one of them take the lead on this today, for feck’s sake?

Vision for Mental Health Change is blurred when it comes to Roscommon

 

Another week, another story of a desperately ill person in crisis and clearly in dire need of help, understanding and compassion, being callously ignored and cast aside due to our Government not giving a rat’s ass about the lack of mental health services available in the Galway/Roscommon area. 

  Yes folks, it seems we have reached the point in our county where the Government just doesn’t care whether or not we survive or die, further widening the divide between us and the rest of Ireland with our leaders’ laughable ‘Vision for Change’ being essentially blurred when it comes to you, me and our families’ mental health and wellbeing.  

  And so, I have to ask you this readers: what is the psychology behind those people who keep voting for individuals and political parties whose ability to fulfil their pre-election promises suddenly falls short of their persuasive personalities and their enormous capacity to lie, utilising the murky bog of ‘spin’ as their post-election defence? Seriously, can someone enlighten me? Because I’d love to know.

  Of course I’m referring to a tragic incident that was reported across most media outlets last week whereby an off-duty garda (an angel I’d say) bravely plucked an 18-year-old who had reportedly ‘tried to take her own life,’ from the River Corrib in Galway only to see this young person being allegedly refused admission to University College Hospital Galway (UCHG). According to The Connacht Tribune ‘she was assessed in the back of an ambulance by a triage nurse and was deemed unfit to be admitted to the hospital.’

  Now this situation is deeply worrying. At the time of writing there had been no comment by the hospital’s administration, so in order to remain balanced, I would really love to hear their side of the story because I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation…well I would hope there is anyway. You see, while the Irish Independent reports the young woman was allegedly refused admission by a nurse who decided she was ‘intoxicated and wouldn’t co-operate,’ I am sure no caring health professional would be so hardened he/she would ruthlessly turn away a potentially suicidal patient. And, while I am also sure that the health professionals at the hospital have wisdom and sound judgement that comes from years of experience, I’m reliably informed that this was no isolated incident, meaning come election time folks, we really do need to make sure we do not once again fall into the trap of electing a group of eejits who could not care less about us and who refuse to stand up and take responsibility for their cull of essential mental health services in our county!

  While I’m at it…to Independent TD Mr. Kevin (Boxer) Moran…I’ve never met you, I don’t know you, but you’re a legend. Well done on publicly baring your soul and opening up regarding your battle with depression and literacy. I wish you and yours health and happiness. 

When the going gets tough, the tough make a comeback!

I see that has-been teenybopper hard man rocker Shane Lynch, the er strong, silent Grizzly Adams look-a-like one from Boyzone, is intent on trying on his much-faded fame and notoriety for size and threatening – sorry – informing us that d’lads are makin’ a major comeback!

  Oh come on, who wants to revisit the former glory days of Boyzone…not me! You see, when the self-professed “dude from Donaghmede,” (Dublin), is quoted in last week’s Irish Independent as saying: “We can own the American charts, the global charts, if we had half a bleeding idea” I personally would have to agree with him…but only on the latter part of his statement.

  You see, if Boyzone had half an idea, the first time around, they could have actually been big in the US, but not now Shane, ah no pal, you’ve had your innings, the group has clearly reached a dead end and no matter what (you) tell us, no matter what (you) do’ you’re no longer catnip to teenage girls who’re now approaching middle-age…so run along love, I think feel a fur ball coming up!

Slán Leat Chairman Mayo

I suppose I should say Slán Leat to our country’s well-known ‘high fiver,’ ‘photo bomber,’ ‘dad dancer’ and ‘air guitarist,’ Enda Kenny and wish him well in his retirement. While regular readers know I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the man who spent a record 15 years at the helm of Fine Gael, I think I’ve been fair and balanced enough in my comments when it came to giving him his due, congratulating him when I felt he’d done well and showing my displeasure when I felt he’d fecked up.

  For my part, while I was never a fan of his party’s politics, Enda did take over Fine Gael when it was on its knees and he took over the running of our country when it had gone to pot and we’d all but lost our sovereignty, bringing us back from the brink…kinda! You see, aul Enda did do some bad things in his time and while I hate to nag on and on about it, I simply cannot let go of the whole Roscommon A&E travesty and betrayal and see this as a major black mark against him, especially when I watch those dedicated locals who valiantly and with great dignity, protest each weekend outside of our County Hospital’s gate.

  However, on the positive side (I’m trying hard to remain balanced here folks), unemployment was at 15 per cent – Enda now leaves it at an impressive six per cent, meaning he’s bequeathing a half-decent legacy on that front. I suppose I also have to acknowledge that in the end our former Taoiseach controlled his own exit and he managed to do it with his head held high and fair play to him for that. While he’s officially retired he won’t be stepping down ‘till 2nd of June when his successor, (i.e. Puppet Meister Merkel’s next lackey) takes the reins; God help us!

  Mind you, I have to say I wouldn’t want to be the one who leads our country into Brexit, so good luck to the new Chieftain and good luck to us. We’re gonna need it if we’re to survive what will be a rough and uncomfortable ride. As for Enda, I’m sure the alleged €2 million pension pot he’s getting will cushion his little tushie as he transitions from political life into pampered retirement. No Brexit woes for him!

It’s parents who should make decisions for their children – not the Government!

 

 

It would appear that former primary school principal Jim Daly TD is clearly still in ‘hall monitor’ mode, only this time he’s trying to give parents’ detention.

  Mr. Daly, who is chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, last week displayed his caring nature –demonstrating to us bould, neglectful parents, and how when it comes to our kids, he’s more doting, more nurturing and more responsible than any run-o-the-mill Irish mammy and daddy!

  You see, Supernanny Daly, under his proposed Internet Access for Minors Bill 2017, could actually slap a fine on those parents who allow children under 14 to own devices with unrestricted internet access! Now, while I’ve made my feelings crystal clear regarding those  individuals who place their kids at serious risk by letting them sit totally unsupervised on the internet, leaving them exposed to ‘sextortion,’ intimidation, harm, bullying, blackmail and grooming, etc., it’s just my opinion and not, I stress, any of my business whatsoever how people choose to raise their kids.

  Personally I feel Mr. Daly has recklessly breached the rules of parental engagement on this one. I mean c’mon, the Government policing parents…the audacity of it! Oh wait, maybe the TD was just giving the Do-Nothing-Dáil a pre-summer break laugh, leading me to ask what delightful little jibe do you have in store for us this week Jim?

  Look, parents, not the Government, have a right to make decisions for their children. Parents should not be forced by law to blindly follow know-it-all Government officials when it comes to raising their families; to do so simply undermines their ability to provide their children with the quality and type of life they desire for them. Besides wouldn’t it be better for Mr. Daly to enforce a law that ensures the children and youth who come under his remit have a safe roof over their heads and food in their bellies, instead of persecuting their parents? 

  Look, anyone with half a techie brain cell in their heads doesn’t need Jim Daly’s interference when it comes to providing boundaries around their kids’ technology use; they can simply install a block/limit on their  mobile phones, alternatively they can buy them one that only allows calls and text messages!

  While I’m on the subject of politicians enforcing legislation, our Communications Minister Denis Naughten informs us that new laws will be imposed by a Digital Safety Commissioner which will also encourage international tech firms to sift out anonymous individuals who spread hate online; imposing ‘financial penalties’ on companies who don’t comply with requests to remove offensive content. Bravo Denis, perhaps you could use your remit as Communications Minister to, er, communicate the cultural practices regarding proposing and implementing realistic and common sense restrictions to your colleague, Mr. Daly.

  You see, Minister Naughten’s legislation will be useful because someone needs to tackle the scourge of nasty trolls who inflict psychological abuse into their every online interaction and those organisations who make money from their social network sites have a moral obligation to their users to remove hateful, obscene comments/images/videos.  

  You see some cowardly keyboard warriors tend to think just because they’re using the internet to post faceless abuse that their behaviour is acceptable – it’s not! I’m glad Minister Naughten has decided to mark out boundaries regarding what’s tolerable in the virtual world, a domain where these online obsessive whackjobs gain oxygen. I believe that social media sites who provide a live streaming service, etc., should not need to be forced to increase their protocols and vetting procedures, they should already have sufficient established strategies in place, but it’s clear that’s what is required given the recent broadcasting of two utterly horrific  murders on certain sites.

  I believe Minister Naughten’s proposal will not, as some have declared, curb free speech, rather it will curb harassment, defamation, abuse and those sicko sadists who take pleasure in spreading their vitriolic rantings and hatred online.

And we all lived snoozily ever after

I don’t want to know how the Late Late Show is going to end. I just need to know when it’s going to end. I mean, RTÉ’s flagship offering with guests who’re about as exciting as a traffic cone just gets worse with each passing week.

  And, God help me, with lack of funds forcing me to sit in and watch the box last weekend, myself and a bottle of Malbec tuned in to witness what our national broadcaster believes passes for ‘entertainment’, i.e. the Late Late Show’s ‘Karaoke Special’ featuring ‘singers’ who didn’t just hit the snooze-ometre, they broke the bloody thing!

  Poor hubby snored so loudly he rattled the windows, bless his noisy nasal tissues.

  Seriously folks, I’m sick of RTÉ’s carousel of Z list guests and in-house plugs for other wishy-washy TV shows. Thank heavens for Sky +!

Life is like a box of chocolates… just ask Dr Kevin Kelleher!

It appears there are a number of reasons for  the lack of uptake of the flu vaccine by healthcare professionals in Ireland, the chief one being that tried and tested carrot dangling piece of yummy, scrummy, gooey, delicious chocolate.

  Yes folks, according to Assistant National Director for Health Protection, Dr. Kevin Kelleher, providing the disobedient, noncompliant little nursies with a kickback –sorry an incentive of a bar of choccie wockie would encourage them to get the flu vaccination. Oh grow up Dr. Kelleher!

  I’m sure you’re a very lovely gentlemen but you’re riding on the bus to hell following that gargantuan insulting gaffe! And I don’t care if you’ve been gallantly defended by HSE Director General Tony O’Brien, who claims your foot-in-mouth operation was simply ‘relating examples of initiatives that have worked in reality.’ 

  Here’s a thought – why doesn’t Dr. Kelleher shrug off his silly ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ Forrest Gump perspective, and instead wear his professional hat, which is to ensure ‘the public are protected from infectious diseases and from harm as a result of environmental hazards,’ and seek out a more meaningful solution to his flu jab dilemma.

  Oh I don’t know, I’m not a clever recipient of the University of Limerick’s  President’s Medal like the esteemed Doc, but my modest opinion would be to put the Dairy Milk away and set up open and honest discussions with our country’s nurses.

 

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