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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Our maternity hospitals must be run free of bias…religious or otherwise!

 

The planned relocation of the National Maternity Hospital to a site owned by the Sisters of Charity at St. Vincent’s Hospital is now – due to an outcry – under review. In The Sunday Times’ article the Bishop of Elphin, Kevin Doran, was quoted as follows: “A healthcare organisation bearing the name Catholic, while offering care to all who need it, has a special responsibility…to Catholic teachings about the value of human life and the dignity and the ultimate destiny of the human person” – meaning if the nuns take charge of the NMH, then they’ll be doing the Roman Catholic Church’s bidding.

  Well, no disrespect to the good bishop but, er…’nuff said!

  However, in an attempt to copperfasten operational independence of said NMH, its Master, Rhona Mahony, last week contradicts this statement, insisting the facility will be “clinically and operationally entirely independent, in line with national maternity policy” – if its proposed gifting to a group of individuals who’ve historically been a major oppressor when it comes to women’s reproductive rights in this country goes through.

  Seriously readers, I have to ask this talented lady, who is one of our country’s most respected consultant obstetricians, what planet she was on when she thought Irish women would swallow this tripe?

  Look, in Dr. Mahony’s own words…“Can we get real about this?” Well, yes, c’mon, let’s get real. Let’s ask why a religious order who still owes €3 million in compensation and redress to mothers, babies and children viciously abused when they were at their most vulnerable in the very institutions it ran, should be ‘gifted’ a medical facility (where all aspects of maternity care will be its remit) at a staggering cost of €300 million to the taxpayer! This so-called ‘charitable’ order is sitting pretty on one of our nation’s most valuable assets, i.e. the Elm Park Campus in Dublin, and, if the nuns had any sense of decency at all, they’d donate the land as a gesture of goodwill.

  Now while we know this religious order has historically failed Irish women and children, if the deal goes through, it’s clear our State will also fail them! I say ‘them’ and not ‘us’ because my child-bearing days are over, and, due to a hysterectomy at this very hospital, so are my gynae days, and while the care I received there was good not excellent, if an order that was part of a list of 18 religious congregations who’ve been investigated by the Ryan Commission over allegations where children were abused in residential institutions gets its grubby, grabby and uncharitable hands on this facility, then I for one wouldn’t even drop in to take a pee, let alone opt to give birth there.

  Besides, if, as is likely, a Referendum on abortion is called and the electorate vote in favour of changing the law, then the State needs to take control and make sure regulations are implemented. Otherwise the principals of any Catholic-run maternity hospital and the State will be at odds and we have absolutely no way of knowing (given the Church’s past history) which will prevail. Look folks, everyone is entitled to their beliefs and to practice their religious ethos, but we, as a nation, are entitled to have our Maternity Hospitals run free of any bias, religious or otherwise, and while there are many decent and kind nuns out there, I’m hoping as a taxpayer, (but mainly as a mother and grandmother), that the necessary medical and legal safeguards and governance structures are put in place – ones that don’t present any risks as to how women and their babies will be treated by whomever runs this public funded facility.

Enda’s milestone leads us on road to nowhere

Well, it’s the story that just keeps giving…and this week I have to ask…what’s the one great thing about an Irish Government? It’s an Irish Government with a s**t load of flaws that I get to pick at every single week! However folks, last week, as he marked a major milestone in his career – that of being the longest serving Taoiseach in Fine Gael’s history – it sticks in my throat but I’d actually like to congratulate Enda Kenny and ask him, did a fortune-teller place a good luck spell on you when you were born Sir, ‘cos when you took over such a shambolic party with the emphasis being placed firmly on the ‘bolic,’ and managed to scrape together a government, I for one didn’t think for a second you’d manage to tick that particular box and reach that goal!

  I’m even more surprised given Enda’s party are all set to tick their own ballot boxes with Coveney, Varadkar and God knows who else being practically out on the hustings, pressing the flesh and kissing the babies in preparation for their leadership takeover and a General Election. To be honest folks, I’m not a fan, especially when it comes to Fine Gael’s policies which have resulted not in us being on the road to recovery, but rather travelling down the road to nowhere with families left homeless and people left jobless; the upshot being a despicable level of child poverty in this country that has sickened me to the very core. 

  But in our crazy and scarily mixed up world of terror attacks, talks and threats of war, Donald Chump, Brexit and Teresa May’s snap General Election announcement, our hapless Enda, whom, you must admit has given the young pretenders to his throne the right runaround –especially at one point where he threw it out there that he just might see in the Pope’s 2018 visit before standing down – is probably one of the most stable things in politics at the moment. Now how weird is dat?

Brendan’s quip was spot on!

As I’ve already said, I’m a big fan of foul-mouthed matriarch Mrs. Brown and her creator Brendan O’Carroll, but not of the Dubliner’s latest talk show ‘All Round to Mrs Brown’s’ because it looks, in my opinion, to be cobbled together. 

  However, last week, while celebrating the show’s success and appearing on fellow talented Irishman Graham Norton’s show, Brendan’s quip of “Get a f**k*** life!” to a ‘superfan’ who’d had all of the Mrs. Brown cast’s characters’ faces tattooed on his back made me laugh out loud, but appeared to anger some viewers, presumably those devoid of a sense of humour!

  As someone who has three tattoos, I’m a fan and admirer of tasteful body art. However, having clichéd branding, people’s faces and random buzzwords inked into your body is not cool, nay, it’s marking yourself with industrial entertainment and while Brendan was having a laugh, his reaction was spot on…and, in my view, he stole the show!

 

Is being violently ‘bumped’ off an airline the ‘new normal’?

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz is feeling “ashamed” – and so he should following the now infamous Gestapo-style removal of one of its paying passengers, (an elderly man), Dr. David Dao, who was forcibly ejected from a United Express flight last week – rendering the organisation to plummet into a PR chasm so deep it’ll probably never recover. And that is a shame for the decent, low-paid, hard-working staff employed by the organisation.  

  However, thanks to the power of social media, we all bore witness to the horrific video footage of the violent incident which occurred as the flight was preparing to leave O’Hare International in Chicago, resulting in worldwide outrage and calls for Munoz’s resignation… something which, at the time of writing, he was still refusing to offer.

  You see, in their own little minds, United had good reason to bully and beat an elderly man, and last week, as the geniuses working in their damage control department hastily huddled together to explain this horrendous treatment of a peaceful passenger, one who was not posing a threat to others, or to the airline, the explanation was that ’a seat was needed for a commuting crew member, and no one had volunteered to leave the plane. Dr. Dao was one of several chosen at random to leave the flight.’

  Now, as the Chicago Department of Aviation say the incident was “not in accordance with our standard operating procedure,” and that hauling an already seated client off a flight was “obviously not condoned by the department” it is however, apparently commonplace for airlines to overbook due to an expected ‘no show rate,’ which is industry terminology for passengers who book and then, for whatever reason, fail to arrive and board their flight. So far, so good; I can understand overbooking is a strategy which can apply to an airline’s commercial selling.  

  However, if a passenger is refused entry to an oversold flight for which the airline has already accepted payment, then there is a contract in place and it’s up to the airline to take responsibility and look after them, not beat the c**p out of them!

  However, strangely United Airlines is not the worst offender… when it comes to over-booking and bouncing passengers off a flight that is –  although their egregious ejection of Dr. Dao renders them as possibly the most violent – with approximately 67,000 people being ejected from their carriers last year due to over-booking, as opposed to, for example, the likes of Delta Air Lines ejecting 131,063, and Southwest Airlines ejecting 103,607.

  And so readers, if like me, you’re planning a little holiday this year; here’s something to bear in mind when booking your flight. According to Ryanair, ‘Unlike other airlines, Ryanair does not overbook flights,’ that’s good to know, although for personal reasons I no longer travel with this carrier. According to Aer Lingus, “As with all other airlines, our flights can be overbooked from time to time,’ however, they add, occurrences “are rare and in such an event we seek volunteers to travel on the next available flight and compensate the volunteers accordingly. Our procedure is to deal with these matters at the point of checking-in in order to minimise any disruption to our guests.”

  Well folks, Aer Lingus and Ryanair’s industry examples, which appear to be exemplary, are certainly a far cry from what we all witnessed occurring on United Airline’s Flight 3411 where heavy-handed goons bullied and beat an elderly gentleman, resulting in the ‘loss of two front teeth and a broken nose.’ 

  I can tell you, United Airlines are lucky that the roughed-up passenger wasn’t my father, ‘cos not only would a law suit be a certainty – mind you due to their shares plummeting by $1.4 billion there wouldn’t be much left to fight for –but I’d go ballistic on them too. As for Munoz, well, due to his insensitive, snivelling apology, I’d render him and his thugs’ credibility so low they’d all be lucky to get jobs cleaning bird poo from car windscreens!

Rescue 116 – dignified heroes

“We’re gone.”

  Two final, heartbreaking words, delivered with such calmness and such resigned dignity signalled the end for those brave but doomed heroes of Rescue 116.

  According to the interim report, data recovered from the black box paints a terrifying picture of one crewmember urging emergency evasive action as realisation suddenly dawned that Black Rock, a small island lying east of Blacksod on the Mullet Peninsula, lay ahead. To be honest, such was my upset, I didn’t want to read the transcript. You see, my granddaughter’s friend is related to one of the lost crewmen. However, sheer voyeurism meant I had to know what happened to those poor souls who had just 26 seconds to react, to try and raise their chopper in order to avoid an impact with an obstacle whose data was not being picked up on their early warning system. How could this have happened? How could these amazing individuals have been ‘flying blind’, why were they rendered powerless, relying on information that wasn’t available to them and why are they dead? I mean, how many more rescue choppers/vessels are out there trying to save lives but, at the same time, relying on information not yet mapped on their technology?

  The entire crew of 116 displayed a remarkable level of calmness; their courage and judgement in the face of grave danger, and then their precise and immediate perception of the fatal situation confronting them was absolutely outstanding. May their sacrifice never be forgotten and may they all rest in peace.

Disgusting attack on our Gardaí

As a force, an Garda Síochána has been dogged by scandal and controversy for many years, the latest being the bogus alcohol breath tests it claimed were carried out on motorists between 2012/2016, but I for one believe our boys and girls in blue on the ground deserve our full respect and support and as law-abiding citizens, I feel we should all stand together to aid and assist them in their role.

  That’s why I’m disgusted that two of our Gardaí, a male and a female, were savagely set upon by three thugs in Claremorris, County Mayo last week.

  Now while our Gardaí are trained to protect themselves, they simply don’t have what I would deem to be the necessary tools of the trade –  leaving them practically defenceless when faced with scumbags who are intent on causing as much damage as possible. Mind you, the offenders will surely have some bleeding heart story and a ‘softly, softly’ judge will probably strike out their charges ‘cos he/she doesn’t want the poor darlings to have a criminal conviction… bless. Ah, sure with that attitude, is it any wonder such scum are given carte blanche to roam our streets with impunity, beating the bejaysus out of our Gardaí and us?

  Look, I don’t care if daddy went AWOL, I don’t care if mammy didn’t love ya, I don’t care if you’re misunderstood…if you attack people trying to do their job defending our country’s citizens you’re an a***hole and all bets are off!

 

Is water charges debacle much ado about leadership?

If I was still producing and scripting for TV I’d be getting in touch with one of my former colleagues and suggesting we put our heads together pronto and pitch an idea to the Broadcast Authority of Ireland (BAI) around a comedy based on so-called ‘new politics’ and the whole joke that is the water charge recommendations screw-up!

  Dear God folks, the mileage I could get out of that one; I mean it’s comedy gold, all based apparently around the members in Leinster House b**ching about the word ‘normal,’ a run of the mill adjective that simply means ‘usual’ or ‘ordinary’, yet it’s possibly going to cause detriment… another adjective, to our Government.

  I mean, can’t you just imagine the jobsworths (no names, no scandal) with their big yellow bingo highlighter markers going rogue on the first paragraph of the five-page report that was BTW apparently already agreed in principle before the entire house ran like destructive schoolkids to stand front and centre on the plinth with their gangs to whimper and whine to the meeja about the others. Look, d’ya see where this entire cock-up is going folks? It’s not about water at all at all, it’s about leadership and the inner wranglings of Fine Gael.

  Methinks this much ado about nothing concerns an already approved report, which a Minister, i.e. Simon Coveney, rejected, citing legal concerns, which he is perfectly entitled to do; however, what if more expensive legal advice finds the original report has been sound as a pound all along ‘cos it’s already been scrutinised, but the Minister rejects it once again? Well then, here’s the thing readers, the Minister has no obligation to honour the recommendations contained in this report and, technically, the only decision he is bound by is that of our esteemed Attorney General Máire Whelan SC, who is the legal adviser to the Government, making her not just the only woman to hold this prestigious post, but also the chief law officer of the State.

  Here’s where it gets tricky…if Minister Coveney rejects the Attorney General’s advice, it could then suggest he has no confidence in her, possibly forcing her hand to resign, plunging the Government into crisis and a change of leadership or a general election. Ah yes, just another week in Dáil Eireann where our TDs got a pay hike of €2,700 in what’s being sugar-coated as a ‘wage restoration,’ following the recession. And despite calls for politicians to forego this pay boost the results of a survey carried out by the Irish Independent shows over 90 will be accepting the increase. Now I don’t know about you readers, but given the petty squabbling, amateur dramatics, and what appears to be the wilful rejection of a pre-approved document, I don’t think we as taxpayers are getting value for our minimum wage money – and I for one am interested in how this childish tiff plays out!

  However, sadly though as none of us have received a recessionary pay boost and will eventually have to pay for our water anyway, the consequences of our TDs playing Russian Roulette with our money means that when it comes to our turn to bite the bullet, you can be sure there’ll defo be a round lodged in the chamber and we’re the ones who’ll suffer the gravity of the repercussions.

Trump – cynical token gesture or genuine change of heart?

Knee-jerk reactions and high emotions only serve to guzzle nations into unwinnable wars. Aggressive world leaders who use twitter/social media to communicate only serve to cause catastrophic consequences for the rest of us. We, as in those living in the civilised world, have a humanitarian and compassionate obligation to help those who are suffering from the monstrous effects of war; and we must do our best to relieve and soothe their unbearable hurt, not add to it, and I fear that President Trump’s actions last week may only serve to have caused the latter to be the case.

  Now I hate to nit-pick…(okay, it’s kinda what I do…just ask my husband), but was Trump’s missile attack on Syria a cynical token gesture, or a genuine change of heart that the welfare of the US and making it great again, is no longer top of his agenda?

  Those heart-shredding images of a dad cradling his dead twin babies were soul-destroying and of course these war crimes, labelled by Trump as a “horrible chemical weapons attack,” must not be allowed to continue, but I’m worried about his motives and have to ask if he even consulted with his advisors or if indeed, carried out a vital stress test before going in gung ho, placing the rest of the world at serious risk? While Trump is clearly asserting his position as Commander in Chief, his actions could well prove to be a high-risk situation for the rest of the world.

  Committing war crimes against your own people is abominable, meaning someone needs to step up and stop the carnage – and quick! But is the man who in 2013 tweeted ‘Don’t attack Syria; an attack will bring nothing but trouble for the US,’ the one to front the campaign –  especially given the volatile Putin’s furious reaction, leading his PM Dmitri Medvedev to reportedly say it all now leaves the US “one step away from military clashes with Russia.” Uh oh, does this mean the ‘bromance’ is over and the hair pulling is about to begin?

  Either way, let’s hope Trump, whose foreign policy shift has taken everyone by surprise, at least has a strategy to back up last week’s actions and this bullish engagement wasn’t just a publicity stunt to bolster his flagging popularity, which beforehand, withered between 30 and 40 per cent. Time will tell!  

When two became three…

I’ll tell ya what I want, what I really, really want – and that’s to stop hearing the intimate details of Mel B and her estranged husband Stephen Belafonte’s marriage break-up. Mon Dieu, if you were to believe the dossier, you’d be forgiven for supposing their debaucherous life consisted of threesomes and more sexcapades and chandelier swingin’ than a Ron Jeremy movie!  In fact, according to The Telegraph, back in 2010 when asked about her toned figure, Mel B reportedly told Grazia that it was due to her energetic, er, fornications, while having “sex with [Stephen] five times a day. I have to admit, I’m a nymphomaniac with him. It’s sexercise.”

  Now these, and other revelations, have surfaced with Mel B being granted a temporary restraining order against Belafonte, citing a string of alleged incidents of verbal and physical abuse, including claiming he is a “large, extremely aggressive, hostile and violent individual” who was “controlling, manipulative and abusive,” which he denies as “outrageous and unfounded.” 

  Whatever way you look at this, a family is in crisis with added claims of financial abuse and blackmail thrown in. And again, while we don’t know the full story, I think it’s a big feather in Mel B’s cap that she’s eventually managed to leave, (and remove her kids), from what appears to have been a toxic situation.

 

Why Enda must maximise Ireland’s negotiating hand following Brexit

It has always annoyed me that the UK has continuously tried to lay claim to some of Ireland’s finest talents. For example, the late great Irishman Terry Wogan was tagged as their ‘national treasure,’ the late Richard Harris, an Irish actor, was billed as one of their ‘most legendary actors,’ and don’t get me started on how Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan and Michael Fassbender were named as ‘British’ stars at the London Film Awards!

  I mean, how geographically stunted are our neighbours? Well, quite a lot, given The Guardian’s jigsaw map reaction to their triggering of Article 50 where the Brits not only divorced the EU, they kidnapped four of our counties…Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan and parts of our own Roscommon! C’mon lads, how much more of our country do ya want? Hands off, and while you’re at it, give us back the other six!

  Okay look, you’ve fired the first shot Britain and while none of us know how this divorce will pan out or how the spoils will be divided, I would like to wish you the very best of luck. I sincerely hope you prosper and thrive but I’m not happy with you trying to get custody of some of our counties and I‘m wondering if we’ll now have to send Enda in to negotiate their safe return. Seriously, even though the idea was innovative, I think perhaps The Guardian’s page layout person needs to upskill?

  On a more crucial note, if I were Britain, I’d be assuming the brace position and putting my head between my knees and kissing my a**e goodbye. But I’m a worrier (and a realist), and while last week’s signing marked for me (and I’d say most of Ireland) what was a sad day as Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50 sent shockwaves across the globe with this landmark moment being recorded on every media outlet, I can’t help but think that Britannia, God love you, will not so much rule the waves as ruinously submerge beneath them and I for one am scared you’ll drag us down with you. 

  At this moment, what we really need, and what I’d like to hear, is that our Government can assure us that they have a clear view regarding what we need to keep our heads above water! So stop waffling, we’ve now reached the end game; unmask that poker face Enda and tell us…what’s da story bud?

  I mean, the irony is not lost on me that Britain banged down the door of the EU back in the 60s when it was known as the EEC and they wouldn’t entertain them, saying “Mais non, sling yer hook matey.” And, because of their access being denied, we couldn’t get in either. Yet now, as we reach this pivotal moment in our history, one our great grandchildren will learn about in school as possibly being the most defining juncture that changed our story, what we need to focus on is…what about us?

  We’re on a knife-edge, and the harder Brexit is made for the Brits, (and Angela Merkel with her dour ‘er, hello, can I see the manager’, haircut has signalled she ain’t gonna play nice), then the harder the land border will be for us, leading to far-reaching anxiety and concern around the fragility of the peace process. I just hope the EU understands fully our unique situation and position because it is a complex one folks; hinged not just on the border/peace process, but also on the Agri Food sector which is crucial to Ireland – and if our Government gets it wrong regarding negotiations, we will all suffer financially. 

  So, g’wan Enda, put your cards on the table and spell it out for dat Angela one; be clear, be concise man, tell her we deserve, nay that we demand special recognition regarding the Good Friday Agreement, and that we must (and we will) maintain access and trade with our UK markets in order to have a positive outcome for Ireland.

  Look, there’s bound to be friction, sure you’d expect it, but lay it out for them Enda – I mean if Merkel can play hardball, then so can we. To quote that great ancient Greek comedy writer Aristophanes…yep, I love my Ancient Greek Lit: ‘A man should be able to stand up under any disaster for his country’s good,’ so, while we’re expecting the worst, we’re also hoping for the best; and wouldn’t it be amazing if Enda could make this deal his final and most fabulous encore!

D’Arcy dropped down the line is best thing about Mrs Brown

I’m a big fan of Mrs Brown’s Boys but while Brendan O’Carroll has been granted a huge honour by the Beeb – who’ve given him and his alter ego a new chat show, All Round to Mrs Brown’s – I have to say that so far the first two episodes have fallen flat.

  Now I love Ireland’s favourite feckin’ Mammy and her volley of ‘F’ bombs, and it’s clear Mrs Brown has managed to net herself a big budget to attract the big names…the first show featured a shell-shocked Pamela Anderson with the second featuring Lulu and Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, complete with the latters’ mammies.

  Now while Pat Schofield proved she’s a game bird and was all about the fun, I’m afraid poor aul Lynne Willoughby clearly hadn’t been briefed on what to expect, or perhaps she’s just not up for d’craic, but the poor thing looked more like an uncomfortable sideshow attraction at a fairground rather than an actual contributor.

  There’s also what appears to be a recurring cooking segment featuring celebrity chef Aly Mahmoud whose offerings Ma Brown force-feeds to the guests and audience members, and of course the random bizarre Mammy of the Week slot which seems pointless, all serving to convince this Irish mammy that it’s not going to be a runner…well, not in our house anyway.    

  Look, while I will probably watch it next week just to be sure I’m not missing anything, and while I think O’Carroll is a lovely man and a talented comedian who deserves his good fortune, the show’s one redeeming quality for me so far has been the fact it’s knocked the drivel that is The Ray D’Arcy Show off its primetime pedestal as RTÉ are broadcasting it simultaneously with the BBC.

  However, so far All Round to Mrs Brown’s looks like a show being produced by trainees on a FAS course!

MIAOW!

As an Ireland AM presenter/weatherman, Alan Hughes is a familiar face on TV. While I’ve no doubt he’s carved out a nice niche for himself at TV3, his mini-rant in the Irish Indo in response to Amanda Byram proposing to make ‘a rival breakfast show on Irish TV’ shrieking, “Amanda doing a breakfast show in Ireland isn’t going to happen, not while I’m on TV I don’t think, just because we are such a dominating force at the morning time,” came across as utterly childish. If I were Amanda my response to Mr. Hughes would be, er…MIAOW!

 

Why I’m in favour of a Dáil dress code!

Well folks, this is probably the hill that I’m going to tumble down, but I’m going to climb it anyway and say it’s about feckin’ time the Dáil sat down, discussed, and decided upon a suitable dress code!

  Now while this matter may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things and while the whole Dáil Committee on procedure sound like a fun gang – I’ll try to pace myself when reading their thrilling codes of practice, if a report is ever released – the fact is, it always has been my opinion that ‘Leisure Wear Wednesday’ and ‘Dress Down Friday,’ are clearly looks that, unless you’re playing sports, are working out in the gym, or are an extra on Fair City, should never be earmarked at the front of your wardrobe as satisfactory, custom made, ‘go to’ business wear.

  Let me spell it out for you readers, there is absolutely no call for any public figure, male or female, rockin’ in to work to represent the electorate looking like a slobby ragamuffin or by giving those who voted for them the impression they’re taking style advice from Rab C Nesbitt! Dressing appropriately for certain jobs/situations/occasions/positions is not about snobbery, it’s about respect, it’s about dignity, it’s about applying and adopting a professional blueprint for yourself.

  Look, I’m no Gok Wan and I’m not pointing the finger at anyone, but ahem, now we’re on the subject, I have to call out to Wexford TD Mick Wallace, who I’m sure is a capable professional and a lovely gent, but who rather puts me in mind of a boyband reject, and I’m sorry Mick, while you are clearly not in any way, in the words of a Wheatus song, “a teenage dirt bag baby”, I have to ask, why is it that you appear to favour dressing like one, pet?

  I raise this question given those two obsessions regarding the unswerving fashion passion for the faded, wrinkled pink polo shirt and the soccer jersey, and a penchant for what appears to be a determination to flout the Dáil’s custom and practice, which is to request that members “dress in a manner which reflects the dignity and decorum of the House.” You see, maybe I’m old school, but I like to save the thrown together look for when I’m off duty.

  Look, like it or not, professional attire matters! End of. And while some TDs/public figures appear to be vastly skilled at getting more attention for their casual clobber, the truth is, they represent us; the Irish people, and dressing appropriately doesn’t diminish their ability whatsoever to do their job, nor does it in any way prune or serve to shrink their quirky individualities or personalities. I feel it’s an insult to try and make us believe that using street grunge, (naming no names here) to hoodwink us into thinking they oppose the very system that they do in fact actively participate in, and by the way, are happy to draw the large salaries from; is offensive and wounding to our intelligence!  Look, you’re a political product, otherwise you wouldn’t have sought office, and now that you’re elected…act and dress the part! I mean, if our TDs are going to lecture us on our own obligations then they at least should start dressing like leaders and stop looking like they’ve spent the morning rummaging through a neighbour’s skip! 

  It’s not about aesthetic authoritarian beliefs, it’s not about adults having to be told what to do; I mean I’m not your parent! What it is about is knowing that your public persona is reflected in your public attire, and this matters greatly when you’re representing my country and me on the world stage. It’s about being respectful enough to both yourself and to your constituents, it’s about extending our country’s brand, which is, ready and willing to do business and not ‘good to go busking on a street corner’ or ‘prepared to clear out the garden shed.’ Mind you if you need to be told this, perhaps you do need a parent, or at the very least, a stylist!

Martin McGuinness: The man who walked a political tightrope

According to former US President Barack Obama, former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, (who sadly passed away last week) “was instrumental in turning the page on a past of violence and conflict that he knew all too well.” And indeed, while it will be extremely difficult for some listening to and reading all of the tributes and accolades, and while I do not wish to be insensitive in any way to any readers; the fact is, Martin McGuinness, (who was actually christened James Pacelli), was a man who played a major role in gaining peace on our island.

  I’m sad that like my hero Michael Collins, I never got to meet Mr. McGuinness, because I cannot help but find similarities between the pair. Like Collins, McGuinness undertook a remarkable journey in his own personal life and the boy from the Bogside turned into the Statesman who walked a political tightrope and realised nobody can bomb and murder their way to peace. He was Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator during the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement, which ended the violence, secured the IRA arms decommissioning, and the sharing of Government with former adversaries in Belfast as Deputy First Minister.

  Martin McGuinness never denied his IRA membership or activities, saying he was “proud that I was a member of the IRA.” I believe, but I could be wrong, that the shooting dead of two Catholics by soldiers one day in Londonderry, (Derry) saw him become an IRA activist. He explained: “We found ourselves in a situation where the British Army and the RUC were on our streets murdering our citizens.”

  However, while most associate Martin McGuinness’ path with reconciliation as having begun in the ‘90s, it’s a fact that his first attempt at peace-making was in 1972, where, as part of a seven-member IRA delegation, he travelled to meet the then Northern Ireland Secretary of State, William Whitelaw. History tells us the process was unsuccessful.

  Whatever way you remember Martin McGuinness, and while there’ll always be a conflict in trying to get the balance right – and I’m not trying to glorify him – nobody can deny he died a brilliant leader and strategist; and like The Big Fella, Martin died a man who made history and forged strong bonds with former enemies. He was a remarkable man who championed peace when all around told him the prospect of attaining such a thing seemed elusive. May he RIP.

Labour pains…the ugly truth!

As that wayward maverick of the mediocre melody Ronan Keating last week described pregnant wife Storm as “a real Earth Mother,” who has “that natural ability and connection,” to be a mammy, I feel I have to set him straight. Wait ‘till she’s fully dilated and moved from gas-induced delirium to pelvic ripping, ‘me lady bits are splittin’…you did this to me,’ freak show! Ah yeah, Ro Ro, let’s see how ‘earthy’ she is then… I’d book the epidural now…for yourself!

 

 

Have the Kennys now got friends in low places?

First we had the mix-up around the embargoed speech, which suggested the St. Patrick’s Day visit to the White House would be the final one for An Taoiseach. The speech, which contained the phrase… “on this night – my last with you as Taoiseach,” led to a hastily re-issued version being proffered, with that damning reference removed. And, when pressed, Enda explained, the phrase was gone “because it shouldn’t have been in there.” Right so, but maybe your PR could have proof-read it a tad more carefully? Just sayin’.

  Then we had our Chief having to explain himself regarding remarks made by that gobby, boozy, boom town brat Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader who’s also a xenophobic populist. And I can back that up folks…remember his famous Brexit poster showing a massive queue of non-white migrants on the borders of the EU; this despite him twice marrying foreign-born women. His first wife is Irish, he’s now married to a German national…meaning, in my view, slippery Farage is seriously lacking in principles.  

  He’s also a man who’s highly inconsistent… again I can back this up by reminding readers of his pledge to take the £350 million the UK sent weekly to the EU and guarantee he’d redirect it into the NHS, something he later retracted as “a mistake,” saying he couldn’t promise the funds would actually be spent that way, despite rolling this policy out as the core of his ‘Leave’ campaign. So when this individual goes on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke’s radio show and has the temerity to say Donald Trump was expecting an apology regarding comments Enda had made in the Dáil referring to him as a “racist,” I had to laugh and say let me know how that works out for ya Nige baby.

  We’re Irish, we’re a sovereign nation, mate. We don’t have to apologise to anyone, least of all you and your new BFF, the modern-day bigot that is Trump! Look, regular readers know I’m not an Enda fan…but he went to the White House due to a long-standing invitation and to honour the good relationship Ireland has with the US. He went because there are approximately 50,000 undocumented and petrified Irish over there who were depending on that visit in order to continue to call the US their home. He went to make sure they got a fair deal. He went because we need to continue the economic relationship we have with the US. A little research will tell you there are currently 150,000 people employed by American firms here on our Emerald Isle and in the US itself, 120,000 people are employed by Irish companies in all fifty states…so when taken into account, that controversial visit and the hypocrisy behind it, was in fact a necessity, and I for one am actually proud of the way Enda dealt with the whole Paddywhackery of it all.

  Besides, if Enda did say that Trump – a man who looks like his make-up has been applied by someone using a spray gun whilst wearing a blindfold – was “a racist,” (#factcheck folks, Enda claims “I did not refer to the person of the now-President as being racist. My comment was in respect of his language,”) – who cares? He can use the Fair Comment defence if Trump kicks up a stink; it’s all subjective and a good lawyer will successfully make that argument. 

  Look, in my opinion, overall, the meeting seemed to go well. Mind you, Enda could have done with a rub of the aul Panshtick himself, ‘cos he looked every minute of his 66 years. (That doesn’t mean I’m ageist, so don’t write in and complain, it’s just a concerned observation). And despite us not being privy to all the excruciating details of the visit, Enda appears to have followed all of the expected norms and conventions of high-level diplomacy, even inviting the Oompa Lumpa to Oire-land, leading Trump to declare, “Tee-shock, that’s my new friend, my new friend,” and, in a pathetic attempt for affirmation, dragging poor Mrs. K into the shenanigans saying “And you, Fionnuala, you are something very special. In fact, we talked; we’re friends now too, right?” Morto for ya Fionnuala; there’s something very unsettling about that. I wouldn’t give him my address if I were you love.

Annie Murphy is no harlot, it takes two to tango!

I remember sitting down to watch the now historic Late Late Show on that fateful night in 1993. It was April, my youngest daughter, an infant of just 10 weeks who had been sound asleep in my arms, suddenly woke to the thundering noise of good Catholics everywhere gasping for breath behind their twitching, crisp net curtains as Annie Murphy delivered that devastating body blow, confirming that she was, indeed, the recently deceased Bishop Eamonn Casey’s former lover and mother of his love child Peter, born in 1974! By all accounts theirs was a torrid affair that rocked the nation.  

  However, even though this scandal initially broke the previous year, giving the faithful flocks of devout, middle Ireland catholics plenty of time to digest it all, the nation was plunged into deep distress and denial. Surely Annie Murphy was a harlot who’d lured this colourful, wonderful, inspirational, man of God and man of the people with her womanly wiles. Yeah right. Thing is…it takes two to make a baby!

  But I have to say I felt sorry for Ms. Murphy, because, back then Ireland, Saint Eamonn and the Church had no right to treat her like a pariah. And despite the fact I felt utter contempt for the hypocrisy of the pair of them, and deep upset for the son that Casey initially disowned, mother and child at least escaped the horrors of the slavery and forced illegal baby trafficking, spawned by the ‘brilliant but flawed,’ late Bishop and his ilk. I’m not suggesting this upright citizen inflicted any harm on these poor fallen women and their children, nor am I saying he condoned it; but he was a high-ranking member of the very institution that cultivated it.  

  Mind you, he did initially deny his own flesh and blood…that in itself, tells me all I need to know about the man…

True heroes

We must fly the flag and never forget the sacrifice and the outstanding, unyielding courage and true grit of those brave men and women of the Irish Coast Guard. This week I’d like to pay tribute to those fallen heroes, the crew of Rescue 116, who operated from Dublin Airport, just three kilometres from my own home town at Malahide, north Dublin.

  We owe a debt of immense gratitude to the late Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and her colleagues, who at the time of writing are still missing at sea; Mark Duffy, Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby. We salute them and the ultimate sacrifice they have made, we also keep in mind the grieving families they left behind. May they rest in peace.

 

Morphing into Mammy!

“Being a mother means one day you’ll realise you’re doing and saying all the things that peed you off about me when you were a child. Yep… the signs are there, you’re officially morphing into me, you can’t deny it; the transformation’s begun.” 

  Am I cruel or wha’? That was the conversation I had with my eldest last week when she rang to say Happy International Women’s Day and that she’d tagged me on Facebook as one of the women she couldn’t live without. Bless her.  Number one daughter, whom I love to distraction, (but who takes fashion cues from deluded dopes who get attention for doing zilch… the Kardashians), proceeded to tell me she’d just been prescribed reading glasses and without realising it, had chosen a pair identical to mine! Aaagh! The shame of it!  

  “Eh, there’s only 18 years between us, so what’s wrong with that? However, if you find yourself getting more excited about a trip to TK Maxx than is necessary, blow the ESB bill money on scented candles and novelty table napkins ‘cos there’s cute little Easter bunnies all over them…seek help!”

  Cue rapid eye rolls…I couldn’t see her but I could sense her standard reaction to my ‘corny’ jokes, and I could hear the vibrant smile travelling from Dublin to Roscommon, so I continued the slagging. “And wait ‘till you start speaking Irish to the dog…oíche mhaith, suí, or fán.” To which she replied, “scary though that’ll be mam, it’ll never happen ‘cos all I know is cáca milis, but if I’m ever watching d’telly and suddenly run out to take the clothes off the line ‘cos it’s raining on Coronation Street, that’s when I’ll get counselling.” Ouch!

  She may scoff, but I reminded her that nobody ever has, nor ever will, love her as I do, even though, during her teenage years, we acted more like sparring partners than mother and daughter. And in the run-up to Mother’s Day, I’d safely say our relationship is probably similar to the type of dynamic between many Roscommon mammies and the daughters who fought hard not to turn into them. 

  Mind you, my youngest is fecked. She’s beyond redemption…she’s already me, she was born me; I’d say she’s a mini me but at 5’10” she’s a whole lot taller me. She’s the one who, like me, forensically separates clothes and washes according to the label’s instructions; the carefree eldest stuffs everything, irrespective of colour or material, into the machine, throws in the powder and hopes my granddaughter’s school uniform doesn’t come out small enough to fit a Barbie doll. She also washes clothes with a ‘dry clean only’ label on them! But she’s confident, she’s secure, she runs a successful business and she marches to the beat of her own drum; and I have never, ever seen her get flustered…even when her jumpers shrink small enough to fit her Shitzu. Instead she laughs and, never focusing on the negative says, “Mam, it was a fiver in Penney’s, what’s the big deal?”

  And ya know what, she’s right, what is the big deal? I suppose it’s all about perception, isn’t it? While I perceive the shrunken item as wasteful, she perceives it as an opportunity to go clothes shopping.

  However, cruel wagon that I am, I reminded her that lately I’ve noticed many of my ‘annoying’ habits – I call them quirks – are coursing through her genes. Like the time she ran back to the apartment for a jacket in case it got cold later, or when I realised she didn’t see herself as part of the young ‘wan demographic anymore, ‘cos she announced: “I’m not drinking there again, it’s full of sloppy kids downing shots.”  

  So I’ll say this as plainly as I can mammies, the day will come when your daughter realises being a mother is not always the idyllic experience that spills out of the pages of a fairytale. Her own daughter will take her for granted and fail to see the diamond she actually is, that’s the day she’ll hold you, her own mammy, close in her heart and realise she’s blossomed and matured into you, and welcome it ‘cos it’ll no longer frighten her; it’ll excite her… we hope! 

Methinks the Bieb’s reality check has bounced!

We’ve all got a fundamental right to privacy, even those who live their lives in the glare of the media spotlight. On the other hand, it could be perceived that when one desires and courts public adoration, fame and riches, they really should know what they’re getting into and expect certain aspects of their lives to fall under scrutiny. Especially when it comes to ‘pop idols’ and the young fans who buy their records/products/tickets, etc., and who hang around all day desperately waiting for a glimpse, or even a photo of their hero.

 

  And so last week, instead of coming across like an assertive gentleman who knows what he wants, Justin Bieber, pictured right, displayed his usual brattish behaviour prior to his Melbourne concert when he was insolent towards an admirer.

  Now, while the initial advance appeared to begin constructively with the young fan approaching the spoiled whippersnapper, innocently asking “Hey Justin, can we have a photo?” things appeared to deteriorate markedly when the singer – who seems to be abrupt, boorish and blunt no matter what the occasion –  reacted by saying “You’re invading my privacy, I don’t want a photo.” 

  Fair enough, Bieber’s entitled not to have his photo taken. However he couldn’t leave it at that and the situation went downhill when he insulted the young woman by adding “Look at you, you make me sick.” Justin, I’ve got news for ya mate…Copernicus called, and, er, it appears, you’re not the centre of the universe!

Restrained eating is not the way to a man’s heart!

The decision to get a takeaway in our gaff always begins on a Friday night with me saying “I’ll do us a nice salad for dinner,” to which himself hastily asks….”Fancy some fish ‘n’ chips?” And, before I can release me rocket from the veggie drawer, himself’s got the engine running and he’s halfway to Roscommon town to get his big brown bag of fresh cod, chips and garlic sauce with me, shamefully losing all willpower, ordering a large single and a side of onion rings. 

 

  And I know instantly in that moment, he’s never loved me more, God bless him. (Mind you I ruin the moment by reminding him to make sure my takeaway hasn’t been fried in the same oil as the fish/burgers/sausages/or any other animal product/substance).

  And so, despite my quest to try to eat healthily, and despite boffins in Denmark saying women prefer low calorie food like salads when in the presence of an attractive man, the fact is; when that attractive man offers the aul salt ‘n’ vinegar drippin’ chips, we Roscommon ladies who enjoy our deep-fried Friday night delights instantly twig that those silly scientists know absolutely nuttin’!

 

I’m a proud Irish woman – but I’m utterly ashamed of my country’s history

It’s Seachtain na Gaeilge, so Céad Míle Fáilte, readers! Aaahh Ireland; the land of a hundred, thousand welcomes…me eye; more like the Land of a Hundred Thousand Abuses. A land where, diabolically, it’s not so much the best little country to do business in, rather it’s the crappiest little country to grow up or grow old in.

 

  Let me offer readers some examples of the dysfunctional, shambolic state of affairs that exists regarding our most vulnerable. The sordid findings of unforgiveable ‘systemic abuse,’ concerning Leah’s Cross, whose report investigated the treatment and deaths of 105 elderly patients resident there between 2002 and 2005; the intolerable Aras Attracta outrage where helpless patients were kicked, threatened and prevented from using the loo, etc., and now the scandalous case of ‘Grace,’ the intellectually disabled lady who astoundingly remained in the care of a foster family for over two decades despite allegations of serious sexual abuse.

  Then, last Friday’s almost unendurable, overpowering story of how Catherine Corless’ amazing crusade uncovered that which we all suspected, the burial; nay let’s call it what it is readers…the swamp, the stinking cesspit in Tuam where innocent, blameless little angels’ bodies were callously discarded like a harmful, malignant substance; concealed in a mass grave. This latest revelation nearly broke me because all of these scandals are a clear and damning indictment that there was, and still is, a culture of gross neglect present in those who should know better; and I never thought I’d say it, but this staunchly proud Irish woman is, this week, utterly ashamed of her country’s history.

  Now, while Enda Kenny has apologised to ‘Grace’, pledging the Government is committed to establishing a commission of investigation, and while I believe this’ll be a highly complex case, tá ceist agam… why we are throwing more money at a Tribunal? Why are we lining lawyers’ pockets, and why aren’t we passing ‘Grace’s’ evidence over to our capable Garda Síochána, allowing them to investigate and prosecute the guilty, including those who had ample opportunities to save her from this vile situation but who wretchedly failed at every turn?

  You see, there’s strong evidence of gross criminal negligence in ‘Grace’s’ situation, so why are the Government conveniently kicking that can down this long and winding road? If there’s a tribunal, it’s my worry the guilty will hide behind the old ‘systems failure’ defence, and, if, as it’s alleged, those who operated at the highest levels knew, or had a smidgen of suspicion regarding ‘Grace’s’ abuse, why didn’t they get off their fat, lazy, overpaid a***s and ask questions around this vulnerable girl’s care? A lengthy tribunal may allow the guilty and their representatives’ opportunities and time to spike info, close ranks and bury their conceited egos in the sand for decades. 

  Additionally, in the Catholic Church’s incredible, defiant and pugnacious  hoodwinking ‘there’s nothing to see here,’ attitude to the heartbreaking Tuam abuses, courageous Catherine Corless’ enduring and heroic campaign will, at last,  mean those innocent and precious little unmarked and unmourned lives will now be recognised, honoured and remembered with the dignity they so truly deserve. However, in order to survive these latest crises, deal with them effectively and move forward from our broken past, we’ll need assurances that these abuses will never happen again and that the approximate 2,500 vulnerable people currently living in institutional care around this country will not be at risk of being violated as a result of ‘system failures.’

  It’s time for the parasites who persecuted and damaged those innocent souls marginalised by our so-called humane society to be penalised for their murky past deeds. We must also show solidarity with those good and decent people who work in Social Care and with the people of Tuam who had no hand, act, part or collusion in the evil that went on around them, but who now find their town under the spotlight. May the community heal, may the innocent little souls rest in peace, may their families, despite this fresh catalogue of barbarity, find some solace.

  We owe a huge debt to Catherine Corless, a woman whose sheer tenacity managed to break down what is possibly the darkest, most damning wall of silence to ever blight our country’s history.  

I’m no car park vigilante, but…

 

I clapped and did a little victory dance when Gardaí announced they were getting tough on those ignorant, selfish violators who illegally park in spots designated for disabled drivers. Yes!!!!!! Having spent some time driving around a blustery and wet Roscommon town trying to find a parking spot last Saturday evening, eventually finding space at the back of the Council offices, I grew suspicious of a group of three individuals, who, despite parking across two disabled spots, had no problem walking, texting, high-fiving and shouting as they hopped out of their vehicle and went into a pub. Yep, their mobility appeared to be first class; even if their vocabulary was lacking! However, I shrugged and assumed one of them, or even all three, may, in fairness, have had some form of invisible disability, undetectable to the layperson’s eye. I mean, is ignorance a disability?

 

  You see, we mustn’t always assume that just because a person looks and appears to be able-bodied they’re not entitled to park in one of these designated disabled spaces. And, as I got on with the business of collecting my yummy Indian takeaway, I realised, as I walked back to my car, that the three were in fact a pack of gormless goons, bereft of any compassion, who weren’t disabled and didn’t give a toss for the clearly painted International Symbol of Access (ISA), aka the wheelchair symbol they’d so heartlessly taken up. 

  I’m no car park vigilante, as I said, and the absence of visible signs of a disability is not evidence of selfishness, but I can see why New Zealanders have set up a Facebook page to name and shame offenders, called You’ve Got My Car Park, Want My Disability Too? Personally, I’d like to see these morally deprived and disrespectful individuals highlighted and humiliated because, in my view, they’re a pack of lowlifes!

 

We need to protect our children from premature sexualisation

I must have missed the memo informing me that it has now apparently become the ‘norm’ for 9-year-old little girls to ‘sext’ explicit images of themselves to little boys. Well, if you were to believe Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services at the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), you could be forgiven for accepting that this horrific craze has now morphed into a major trend, especially as it’s “becoming more a feature of the organisation’s daily work.” And, as the ISPCC is doing great work, and appear to be on top of their game, I do believe and trust Caroline, and I’m now highly disturbed that sadly, the sexualisation and exploitation of young, vulnerable, innocent little children may have reached epidemic proportions in this country – and I have to say…enough is enough.

 

  This is a serious issue for me because as a grandparent I witness my 10-year-old little angel being bombarded by pop culture and its daily messages; some of which are good, some cool and fun, and some, deranged, dark and downright unhealthy; with the latter forcing many young kids to grow up too quickly, often leading to them (through absolutely no fault of their own), having a total disregard for their personal sense of decency and safety, tragically falling into a dark, distressing arena where porn has possibly become the norm.  

  Now, while I think my mobile ‘phone is the greatest invention since penicillin, as it keeps me up to date with what’s going on in the world, enables me to work from anywhere and has lots of other wonderful benefits, I’d have to question why any 9-year-old child would need such a device, especially with the potential consequences, (given this latest ISPCC revelation), being severely damaging to their mental health and wellbeing.

  Okay, I understand a mobile ‘phone is a convenient way of keeping tabs on your kids, and, in an emergency situation, your child can easily and quickly reach you…great! But, OMG parents, you really need to ask yourselves this question…is your young kid ready for all the dangerous pitfalls that come with this wonderful, convenient method of communication? Clearly the poor kids sending sexualised selfies of themselves are not!

  Sadly, there is no legal age setting out when a child may possess a mobile ‘phone, therefore it’s down to the parents to set the boundaries regarding when they feel the time is right. And, carrying out a quick poll of my own friends who have young kids, and, posing the question to my eldest daughter (parent of my 10-year-old granddaughter), it seems that Confirmation (12/13 years) is the popular time; and that’s reasonable enough. Yet, given recent revelations where it’s reported that a school staff member ‘referred to a 9-year-old girl sending nude photos of herself to boys in her class,’ parents are giving in to the pester power of their little cherubs, and the downward age of under ten is more the case because, quite simply, it’s bloody hard to say no to certain things when your child is being subjected to peer pressure and aggressive commercialism by advertisers. And, while we all appreciate that mobile ‘phones and the internet can provide educational tools and interesting apps for our kids, on the other hand, dare I ask, how can it be hard for any parent to say no to blatant exposure to potential online bullying, predatory creeps, and sexsploitation?

  God knows I’m no Mary Poppins, but, should my 10-year-old granddaughter be allowed a mobile ‘phone tomorrow, I’d suggest to her mother, the decision-maker, (who would probably tell me to butt out), that she give her a seriously dumbed down version of one, as in, it could only send text messages as opposed to picture messages, and her contact list would be locked down so tight it would only contain close family members’ numbers. I believe that as parents/grandparents, we all have a vested interest in protecting our children from premature sexualisation, because, to do otherwise would be quite literally contributing to damaging the innocence of their childhood.

It’s stupid season at the White House!

Well folks, it seems as if last week, President Chump, sorry Trump, and his advisors were acting like a pack of back row hooligans, further escalating their petty attacks against the meeja by showing us that The Donald will wield the might, and use the prerogative of his position and power to silence and belittle those who dare to disagree, scan, study or scrutinise him when he banned such credible organsiations as CNN, the BBC, The Guardian, the New York Times, and others, from attending an off-camera press briefing. 

  Now, while I can’t believe I’m writing about this oppressor again, because I feel that in sinking low enough to do so and grant Trump any sort of publicity, what I’m really doing is contributing to the decline of my own intellect – seriously folks, I have to wonder, what is Trump’s main objective, because basic PR maintenance and the responsible running of a country it ain’t. You see, by aggressively hand-picking members of the press, I now feel that Trump and Co. have tentatively walked the backalleys of stupidity and thuggery, and, even though the Beeb’s very polite Washington bureau chief, Paul Danahar, sympathetically said: “We understand there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool” – it’s clear it stung. If it were me, and Trump had refused The Roscommon People entry, while I’d have had to graciously take my lumps (like other reporters), my smiley face would soon freeze into a rictus of revenge! Yeah Donald…hell hath no fury like a newspaper woman scorned!

What about the borders of the future, Enda?

The countdown is on, and, as we enter March, Brexit is set to become a reality, with the Brits triggering Article 50. This will be the time when ourselves and the rest of Europe will officially enter into two years of separation negotiations, culminating in an April 2019 Divorce. Now sadly readers, this will also mean that the annual Booze Run up North will cease, I kid you not!

  You see, while Enda and Theresa waffle on about ‘No return to borders of the past,’ I have to say I’m personally sick of hearing their bull, because at this stage, I believe we’re all familiar with the borders of the past; sure we’ve lived through them, so enough with the lip service Enda and tell us about what to expect from the borders of the future. Tell us what’s facing us, because to be honest, no matter how much you blather and cackle, the fact is, we’re not idiots and know that essentially Ma Markel and her flunkies will have the final call in how us minions separate our assets and live our lives, and methinks, it ain’t gonna be purty!

 

 

 

Degree or degradation? Sadly, some people don’t get the choice

Let me start by briefing my lovely readers, especially parents, and tell you this week’s column contains an adult theme, because I’d like to share my opinion on last week’s new provisions to the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill (2015) which will criminalise the purchase of sexual services.

Now, while I’ve already written about the new provisions defining consent, this extra measure will criminalise the sex buyer rather than the seller…if you get my drift…and bear in mind I’m trying to keep the wording as reader-appropriate as possible, folks.

Now, while I fully agree that nobody, not even the law, should ever impose on what consenting adults get up to – I mean, perish the thought the Government might start regulating our libidos and all that – however, I do think this provision regarding the so-called ‘oldest profession in the world,’ is a step in the right direction. I don’t believe for one minute that it will drive prostitution further underground, rather I feel and hope that it will protect those, especially the most vulnerable, who work in this type of industry. I say this despite singer/artist Kate McGrew, a career girl who describes herself as someone who works in “the sex industry,” (readers may remember Kate, aka Lady Grew from RTE’s ‘Connected’ reality series), being quoted in an Irish Independent interview describing her working day as being “really just a lot of admin,” (seriously?), and slamming this piece of legislation as “a dangerous law.” Well, she doesn’t want her punters, sorry clients, penalised…I suppose.

Now I can see why Ms. McGrew, who’s part of the Sex Workers Alliance (SWA), isn’t too keen on this inclusion. You see, as a woman who engages in sexual activities for money, Kate claims “I spend 14 days working out of the month, and it’s on the road”, adding “It’s nice that I can create my own schedule.”

Well, when put like that love, I wonder why I kill myself hard grafting all the hours God sends as a journo trying to pay my bills when all the while I could have been raking it in as a high class Madam!

I’m sorry, but looking at Ms. McGrew’s view of her profession, and remember I’m not condemning, nor am I condoning her, I feel she’s literally placed herself on some very dodgy ground here because, given the choice of degree or degradation, I’m sure most Roscommon women, me included, would opt for the degree! Look, maybe the ‘art of prostitution’ is seen as a legitimate career choice for Kate and for those like her who may view themselves as too haughty to flip a burger, stack a shelf, operate a till, answer a ‘phone or indeed, write a column, but the fact is, we cannot, and we should not, pretty up this dangerous profession because many poor unfortunate and vulnerable women (and men) fall into this lifestyle through poverty, lack of education leading to lack of opportunities, drug or alcohol addiction, or through being mercilessly pimped out by a sleazy, sicko  human trafficker. We should never be seen to normalise the practise of selling sex to survive.

Again, I’m not condemning what Ms. McGrew does, she’s entitled to earn her living as she sees fit, nor am I shaming her for her career choices. However, while this legislation is trying to ensure the safety of those engaged in prostitution, and while 72 organisations, including the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation are in favour of it, the Government now needs to put in place intervention strategies for these ‘sex workers’ so that financial desperation, hunger, forced prostitution, trafficking and abuse, etc., are not key factors in their decision to ‘go on the game.’

Look, when any of these situations become the devastating and horrific alternatives to education and other opportunities, ensnaring women into a labyrinth of economic paralysis, then I strongly recommend our Government’s next inclusion should address human rights because if we fail to protect our most vulnerable, then this is an area that should clearly be scrutinised to its fullest.

Why I loved Lucy on First Dates Ireland

I won’t lie; last week’s First Dates Ireland was difficult to watch. When I saw handsome 24-year old Dub Aidan and the gorgeous 27-year-old Lucy from Roscommon paired up I initially cheered…then cringed, especially when Aidan asked a bewildered Lucy…“So, what has you here?”

She’s waitin’ on a LUAS, love! Awkward or wha’?

We all know first dates can be very difficult but Aidan could have come up with better banter than “small table,” leading to the small talk drying up and then dying completely. However, I did feel a sting when Lucy rejected him and felt that if this was her intention, then she might have gone first and saved his blushes rather than allow him to say he’d like to see her again; then reveal he wasn’t her cup of tea. 

That said, with my sensible mammy head on, I give full credit to Lucy, because, given Aidan’s response to her comments that he was “very nice” – and he was a gentleman, the date began well with him holding her chair (and Lucy did acknowledge that fact) –I have to say Aidan’s reply, humorous though it was, of “What were you looking for then… an asshole?” when she said no, was kinda delivered in such a sour manner I think Lucy may perhaps have dodged a bullet. Dare I suggest, (I could be wrong), there was a distinct hint of acrimony to it; a, how-dare-you-reject-me tone that bit in and left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable, as if implying that saying “no” wasn’t okay, that asserting your right to want something else was childish…when it’s really a sign of maturity. If you like a person but feel they’re not right for you, then you’ve got a right to say so, and, even though I felt Lucy might have spared Aidan’s blushes, my gut tells me she made the right decision and bowed out as graciously and as respectfully as she could. Respect, Lucy!

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