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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Tainting areas as being socially deprived leads to dehumanisation

 

 

At the time of writing, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, pictured right,  was pledging he’d get around to visiting the communities affected by the recent cold-blooded killings in Kilmore West and Darndale in North Dublin, “as soon as I can find a little time”. Wow! Perhaps you’ll fit them in when you’re done quizzing Maria Bailey over her regrettable ‘swing-gate’ debacle? Then again, maybe you’ll ‘find a little time’ in between writing gushing fan-boy letters to Kylie? Or, is it possible you’ll pencil them in around those impromptu busking sessions you love so much? As someone who grew up in Kilmore West, (coincidentally on Kilbarron Drive, the road directly behind Kilbarron Avenue, home of one murder victim and crime scene of another), I personally find Leo’s attitude insulting.

  Then again, there’s a chance it’s not Leo’s fault. You see, it’s possible our posh-boy leader is, (like many I’ve spoken to over the past week), of the opinion that, due to the escalation of serious crime in this area, the community probably aren’t all that worthy of a State visit. I mean, how many of them are even likely to, ‘get up early in the morning’. Now readers, if this is the general consensus, then I believe it’s a clear indication of how our everyday language and news reporting styles, both in print and in broadcast media, (and social media), have disgracefully contributed to the way in which we perceive some areas of our country.

  Don’t believe me? Remember how Roscommon was scandalously belittled for being ‘the only county to vote against same-sex marriage,’ leading to us being unfairly scrutinised by the eyes of the world during the Abortion Referendum, to see which way we’d swing! (Ooops sorry Maria, there’s that word again). I’ll tell you folks, there were many times over the past months, when, having been asked how I could…and I quote, “live down in that backward hole,” (I stress again, not my words), I found myself robustly defending this county, often engaging in many a boisterous verbal exchange; using words unbecoming of a lady. I’m not a person who’s confrontational by nature, (no, seriously I’m not), but I will not stand by while ignorant halfwits demean this fine county, categorising us, (yes, I’m one of ya now), as being unsophisticated. And that dear readers, is just my example of how certain language can have the ability to taint and dehumanise all that is good about our thriving Roscommon; and indeed other decent areas.

  And so it’s the same for Kilmore West. You see, I have friends living there. Decent hard-working friends who’re not just raising families and contributing positively to society, they’re also friends who’re not ‘known to Gardaí’. However, due to certain perceptions and commentary surrounding the latest spate of frighteningly brazen murders, these friends, because of their location, are now being labelled as ‘disadvantaged,’ and ‘socially deprived’ – and that’s discriminatory. Violent crime, or, as we call it, ‘organised crime,’ and murder is not an acceptable activity in Kilmore West, no more than it is acceptable anywhere else in Ireland. 

  In addition, by society placing the highly provocative label ‘the Gucci Gang’ on these cancerous pieces of scum, we’ve managed to make them sexy! After all, despite having no visible means of income, these gang members flamboyantly flaunt their wealth, drive flash motors, and wear designer jewellery as they pump bullets into their victims without fear of punishment. Sure is it any wonder that some naïve individuals view this lifestyle as being profitable.

  And, what’s worse, by Leo being so indifferent and so dismissive of the urgent need for his government to show solidarity and address the seriousness of the situation, such is the visceral nature of organised crime, we can be sure, vulnerable school-going kids, (already de-humanised as being ‘socially deprived’), will find themselves becoming the unwitting vessels of coercion and control. If someone doesn’t do something soon, sadly, to the detriment of us all, the in-fighting will intensify, the cartels will implode, the violence will escalate across this entire country and the carnage will continue. Leo, it’s time to grow a set, love!

 

We’ve still got it girls…and somebody wants it!

 

It appears Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden’s risqué fashion choices were seen as so contentious, they not only overshadowed the contestants, they also generated a flurry of complaints to Ofcom! And, even though I’m not a fan of a show that has, in my opinion,  never once produced an entertainer who has managed to grip my attention, (apart from finalist Victoria Wood knock-off singer/songwriter Siobhan Phillips), I did tune in to see what all the begrudgers were moaning about. I mean what is it with the great British public and their enhanced curiosity when it comes to Amanda Holden and what they view as her distracting side boob, under boob and every other body part she decides to put on display?

  Look ladies, just because we reach a certain age, it does not mean we should be judged and dissected under a microscope by small-minded covetous aul curtain twitchers whose only objective is to rip us apart. Nor does it mean we should suddenly stop wearing skinny jeans, sky-scraping heels and leave our hot sexy selves behind! And, even though that bloke at the petrol station called you madam this morning, (hate dat), remember, he wouldn’t stand a chance with you anyway, so brush it off, ‘cos your head turning days are not yet over. 

  You see, just because where once there was flawless skin there now spurts an array of pores so deep they’re expanding like crop circles across your face, the fact is, we’ve all still got it, sisters! However, here’s my little tip: In order to get that same I’m-not-wearing-any- foundation look you used to effortlessly rock in your 30s by, ahem, well, not wearing any foundation, slather on the primer then add a layer or three of tinted moisturiser…job done.

  Yes ladies, there may be a few crow’s feet, and it’s true, we may be mortifyingly aware of every droopy body part and every grey hair, but don’t fret. Just take my advice, and, this week, when you go shopping for clothes, do yourself a favour and, instead of opting for function, opt for fashion, because the blush has not yet fallen off that rose; Mamma’s still got it, and believe me girls, somebody out there wants it.

 

 

I put my dog’s needs first and gave Gloria a peaceful passing

 

 

On 1st May I held my best pal in my arms, and, giving her what I knew, deep in my heart, was the greatest, and indeed the most agonising gift I could ever give, I allowed her, with the help of our lovely veterinarian Hannah, to pass away peacefully and compassionately in my arms. Our precious Gloria was one of our family of adopted fur babies and her death has left me with a sense of sadness so crushing, and so heart-splitting, I find myself tormented by grief at the loss of our much-cherished family member.

  Like her brother and sisters, Gloria, a beautiful, vivacious, ball of fun, wrapped in a golden mane of fur, was rescued by us, (as then animal welfare officers), from a life of unimaginable cruelty. That was in 2011. However, given this little Pomeranian’s sad circumstances, our shelter vet quickly determined that, if she was going to survive, Gloria would need a nine-hour surgical procedure, with me providing back-up as an emergency ‘stand-in’ assistant. Now perhaps it was Gloria’s incredible will to live, (more likely it was our vet’s expert surgical skills), or perhaps it was my strangling of the 1978 disco hit ‘I Will Survive’ throughout the procedure, (hence her name Gloria after Gloria Gaynor), but miraculously, our little lady made it. And, you’ve guessed it, an attachment was formed, with me telling staff (and hubby) I wanted no arguments, this ball of fluff was joining the mad pack of fur babies that have become our entire world.

  My difficult decision to end Gloria’s suffering was made on foot of a call from Cloverhill vet Stephen. You see, following what was a two-week fight to save our little lady’s life, it was agreed he’d carry out an exploratory procedure under local anaesthetic to determine the origins regarding the sudden appearance of a hard, bony lump at the top of our girl’s head. Sadly, it was a neoplastic mass consistent with a multilobular tumour of bone. Unbeknownst to us, this cancer had been slowly growing inside our darling Gloria, killing her from the inside, and, in her twelfth year, had invaded her brain. So, following Stephen’s compassionate advice, having spent 24 hours sitting quietly home alone with my precious girl nestled in my arms, we drove to Cloverhill Veterinary Clinic where we were gently led into a quiet room, and, as myself and Gloria gazed into each other’s eyes, I quietly sang to my little lady, told her how much I loved her, and, proving that love, (with the help of vet Hannah), I allowed my angel to peacefully slip away. 

  I’ll tell you readers, losing my Gloria was painful enough, but to have to count down those hours to her humane euthanasia was more than I could bear. I’m not ashamed to say that, a month on, I’m left with a pain in my heart so overwhelmingly powerful, it chokes me up, causing me to suddenly break down crying; often in public places.  

  I’ve got many people to thank for their kindness during Gloria’s brief but devastating illness, all of whom patiently listened to me while I struggled to breathe, talk and cry at the same time, but I must mention my dear friend/colleague Mike Power and my two daughters. I won’t forget how each of you spread your empathy and your love over me, creating a blanket of compassion and understanding.   

  I need to say a heartfelt thank you and pay tribute to everyone at Cloverhill Veterinary Surgery, in particular the true gentleman that is principal vet John Finnegan, and his wonderful staff, the lovely Hannah and the straight-talking yet gentle Stephen who all worked so hard, using every bit of expertise they possessed, to try and save our precious girl. A special mention goes to receptionist Colette who shuffled around many an appointment to fit us in. You’re all legends and you all have my gratitude. Big thanks to Niall at Mayo Pet Crematorium for his compassion while handling/cremating Gloria’s remains. You’re a gent Niall.

  I want to thank the one person who understands how Gloria was my universe. Who knows how much her precious life, as well as our other fur babies’ lives, are interwoven with our own; he’s also the one person whom, each time he sees me unravelling, lovingly holds me up…my husband Simon.

 

Trump is unpopular, but what if we need him?

 

It’s (un)official, (keep an eye on twitter ‘cos he could still change his mind), but it appears we’re all geared up for a visit from the Tangerine Tornado, sorry, The Donald! Could we be more underwhelmed? But seriously, while Captain Chaos and Melania’s presence on our shores may prove controversial, not to mention costly, (we’re allegedly spending €10 million plus on security), the fact is, Leo did extend an invitation so…blame him! Look, I’m no fan of Trump and find his derisory rhetoric on, well most things, to be nauseating. However, given Theresa May’s resignation and the Brexit bombshell about to befall us, remaining friends with the world’s biggest baby, sorry most powerful man, would prove much more beneficial to us than rebuffing him.

  You see, if Britain’s next PM is someone who goes to the EU saying ‘screw the Irish, cut them loose and let’s do business,’ as opposed to May’s attempt to try and strike a middle-ground, then we’re gonna need to fall back on our special friendship with the US. And even though Trump’s an unpopular individual, and we may not wish to make him welcome, as POTUS, we must accept and respect his office. I mean, come on folks, is there anything that terrible about Trump that can’t be cured by a decent haircut and a personality transplant?

  Look, while I appreciate Trump was caught bragging on tape about using his fame to, “grab (women) by the, (for the sake of decency), lady-bits,” clearly believing his tasteless brand of honesty is medicine to the world’s ears, (we’re clearly in the placebo group Donald), I do think those planning to protest need to rethink their strategy. My reason being, if we’re left high and dry by Brexit, we just may need Trump. So, let’s keep Ireland Inc and our financial future at heart folks, and let’s do this by keeping on the right side of the US!

 

 

I won’t miss D’Arcy’s  weekly dose of dross

 

Did you know that broadcaster Ray D’Arcy (allegedly) earns €400,000 a year to host what in my opinion have got to be the most monotonous talk shows on TV and radio? I mean, given the choice, I’d rather chew off a vital body part without the aid of an anaesthetic while watching tedious TDs debate during an Oireachtas Committee live-stream than suffer through another Dreary D’Arcy interview.

  So, while I’d imagine Ray’s a real hoot at the wrap party, as a licence fee payer I’m relieved to read rumours his TV show’s facing the axe! I for one won’t miss D’Arcy’s weekly dose of dross, plugging publicity-starved wannabees desperate for their moment in the spotlight! 

 

 

 

On balance, I think public confidence remains high in our Garda Síochána

 

 

 

Well, it was quite the news story last week…as, in an event unprecedented in the history of this State, three members of our police force – a Garda Superintendent, a Garda Detective and a Garda Inspector – were arrested and questioned under suspicion of being involved in the commission of criminal activity. 

  At the time of writing, all had been released. However, it is understood that the three are suspended from duty and that a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan quite rightly said that he couldn’t comment on individual cases, adding that he does “expect a thorough and timely investigation,” into what most of us will consider to be a shocking turn of events. And indeed if anything improper/corrupt is suspected in this or any other case, of course there must be an investigation.

  Now, I won’t be commenting at all on what is a case involving what is strictly alleged wrong-doing; people are entitled to a presumption of innocence until and unless there is a contrary determination.

  In a general sense, and in no way referring to any specific a case, I would make the point that I, and all right-thinking civilians and Gardaí, believe that our police force must be ‘clean’. I do believe that public confidence remains high in our hard-working Garda Síochána. I hope it does, anyway; especially in our local Gardai, who do a great job and who deserve our regard and respect. I also believe that we, as civilians, are lucky to have a moral, ethical, good and decent police force.

  However, if any members of An Garda Síochána, at whatever rank,  ever deviate from their professional standards without justification, then they must be rooted out and they must face disciplinary proceedings. It’s that straightforward.

  No matter what job we do, and no matter what career/life path we choose, the fact is, there will always be a set of overriding principles and codes of conduct. In most incidences, in the workplace, we call this the employee handbook! You know, the carefully curated diktat of procedures, policies and cultures set down by our oppressors, sorry supervisors, that none of us have ever bothered to read…but that all of us have to adhere to. And, based on the profile or indeed, the responsibility of our positions, we, as employees, all have a duty to ensure that, within reason, we not only follow a robust and consistent approach towards our workplace guidelines, but, if we are in a public-facing and public-protecting role, and indeed, in one which could potentially render us to be extremely vulnerable, once we’ve given a commitment, once we’ve taken an oath, we must never, under any circumstances, violate or breach those regulations. So, it is for this specific reason that any taint of impropriety, alleged or otherwise, must be rigorously and meticulously investigated.

  I would, as always, urge readers to show support for our local Gardaí, because they are the people who not only protect us, they also protect our freedoms. They are the ones tasked with enforcing our laws and upholding our Constitution and our nation’s flag; meaning without these brave men and women, anarchy would likely reign supreme across our country.

  I’ll finish by saying that while I’d imagine, at the moment, that morale within the force must surely be mixed, our Roscommon Gardaí should hold their heads up high, and in the execution of their duties, wear their uniforms with pride and know that, as they do, the good people of this fine county stand firmly behind them.

 

Madonna: The blonde that’s never bland!

 

I’m not a fan of Eurovision, and, even though I like him (he’s a nice guy, and I did work with him quite a bit on Open House during my RTE days) but neither am I a fan of Marty Whelan’s irritating commentaries.

  However, I am a fan of everyone’s favourite granny, Madonna, the woman whom, in last weekend’s Eurovision performance, unfortunately sounded more like the rusty hinge on hubby’s shed door than a credible recording artiste.

  And, despite the fact she was pitch-poor, and would, it must be said, probably struggle to carry a tune in a bucket, I do admire the nearly 61-year-old rosary bead-draped, corset-clad aul wan, because she never ceases to court controversy or push boundaries – while all the while caring about nobody’s opinions but her own! Respect!

  Long may the Material Girl reign supreme…even if she did kinda humiliate herself with last Saturday’s eye patch-wearin’ performance. BTW, what is it with those hands Madge? I mean they looked older than Elton John’s face!

 

Baby you can drive my car…just don’t eat in it!

I was highly amused by last week’s announcement by Thames Valley Police (UK) who reported they stopped a van driver, who was ‘arrested for an unconnected matter’ in south Buckinghamshire,  fining and issuing him with penalty points on his licence because his van was such a rubbish tip, cops said it was “dangerous” to drive.

  Now, while some readers may feel this is a bit over the top, given the images released on Twitter showing how the vehicle’s footwell was practically blocked due to what appeared to be fast food bags and containers, I’d say there was due cause for concern, especially as the detritus choking the pedals posed a potential safety hazard, obstructing the van’s braking function.

  I’m someone who does not allow eating or drinking in my car. I admit that I tend to get very upset, (hubby exaggerates and says I go ballistic), if someone leaves crumbs, crisp bags or coffee cups anywhere in my car.

  This means that if the one person I allow (who is also the one person insured, other than me) to drive my car finds themselves in an emergency situation whereby, if they don’t immediately have food they are in danger of dying from malnutrition, and then decides to stop for a nausea-inducing egg salad roll, crisps, a crumbly flapjack and a large flat white, and then has the temerity to exit my vehicle without first removing all evidence, (including aromas) they’ve even breathed in it, let alone devoured an entire fast food meal, then that unfortunate offender knows that when I get hold of them, they’ll find themselves travelling on the highway to hell. And breathe…

 

 

 

Nobody expected bargain basement broadband, but is deal value for money?

 

 

Last week was dominated by news of the much-anticipated National Broadband Plan. We had Leo gushing that every home, holiday home, farm, business and school, whatever their location across the country, will be connected to the internet through high speed broadband within seven years, at a cost to us of no more than €3 billion.

  Eh, wasn’t it once estimated at €500 million Leo? But hey, I suppose, thinking we’re all too thick to add up, An Taoiseach just glossed over that little issue and instead spun us a line by setting a target of signing the roll-out contract with the Granahan McCourt consortium before the annual Funderland for Farmers, sorry, National Ploughing Championships, takes place in September!

  Now, while the government was initially refusing to reveal how much the private investment company will commit to the deal, according to a report in the Sunday Times, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed spilled the beans, divulging the investor’s actual stake will be ‘less than €200 million,’ making the final(ish) figure for this obnoxiously expensive project come in at an alleged €5 billion. Hmmm, while nobody’s expecting a bargain basement service, it’s my opinion we’re not exactly getting value for money here!

  To be honest folks, I became concerned when senior civil servant Robert Watt, (who is employed by our government to advise on such issues), warned Leo that, as the plan posed such an enormous financial risk, and only provided questionable benefits, he felt the whole thing should be called off, but sure, that didn’t bother our Leo whom, looking through his election-time rose-tinted spectacles, decided he’d plough ahead regardless and plunge all of our country’s money into fixing this one particular problem, thus completely ignoring our very serious housing crisis.

  Look, while rural Roscommon does desperately need high speed broadband in order to keep communities cohesive, etc., it hasn’t escaped me that, to date, we’ve had no less than four ministers, (including our own Denis Naughten) trying to deliver this strategy, and, I have to say, it’s my opinion that the whole project has now more or less morphed into a massive botch job, and, given the cock-up that is the National Children’s Hospital, I’d imagine the costs will balloon even further!

  Due to this, I reckon it’s about time our government realised they don’t possess the ability to develop and deliver its citizens with any major project on any level whatsoever. I’d go so far as to question whether they even have the knowledge, the cop on, or the technical skills required to deliver us with anything other than over-inflated, choppy-changey, pie-in-the-sky initiatives, that, once started, end up costing us billions, leading to the deal-makers spectacularly and unapologetically getting away with cocking things up and never being held accountable! Too harsh? I don’t think so, especially given you and I are being made to pay through the nose for a product, nay an asset, we won’t ever possess. I mean, we probably won’t even be able to list the plugs, cables and adaptors as part of our worldly goods.

  Let me reiterate, there’s no doubt we need national broadband, there’s no doubt we’re becoming more dependent on it, and there’s no doubt the service won’t be cheap; that much we can all agree upon – but I do wonder if this government has ever, at any stage of this process, had any notion of a vision beyond the one where they promised us the actual service; as in, if they ever sat down and looked at how it would be delivered and how we would use it, and indeed, how it would positively impact and connect those of us living in rural communities?

  I also wonder that if, in the likely event the whole operation falls flat (and it may), if anyone, anyone at all in Dáil Éireann, has even had the tiniest bit of foresightedness to put a contingency plan in place? Leo and pals would be well advised to bear in mind that, as they’re the ones who’ve decided to ignore sound advice and thrown caution, (and our money) to the wind, they’ll be the ones whom, in time, will be judged on whether or not they could deliver on any of their promises! I hope for this country’s sake, their broadband efforts bear fruit!

 

A green future is not top of our government’s agenda!

 

On the subject of climate change…I’m someone who is very environmentally friendly and aware and who actively, along with hubby, recycles, etc. Well, this week I’d have to say that while Minister Richard Bruton‘s emotional statement that “Everyone will have to make changes,” may look great as a headline, it’s clear to me that, given only six TDs showed their faces to vote on last week’s historic declaration that saw our country becoming the second nation worldwide to proclaim a climate and biodiversity emergency, a green future is not top of our policymakers’ agendas! As a result, I’m now assuming that, like everything else, until our farmers have no land left due to flooding, until our country has no clean water left to drink, and until our kids/grandkids have no parks or forests left to enjoy, etc., that, along with homelessness, hospital waiting lists, the trolley crises, and how Brexit will negatively impact rural businesses, the serious issue of global warming is not an election big ticket item, and will only be addressed when finding a solution has gone way out of our reach.

 

 

Should parents pay the price for kids’ bad behaviour?

 

 

Everyone will have an opinion regarding TD Willie O’Dea’s suggestion that parents of kids who cause public disturbances or who engage in anti-social behaviour should be sanctioned “either through fines or having their social welfare stopped”.

  Now, while I’m someone who has a low tolerance for unruly kids/teens, I have to say that yes, I agree with Deputy O’Dea’s sentiments that parents absolutely need to take responsibility for their kids’ behaviour, but, steady on, stopping somebody’s social welfare payments is a bit tyrannical!

  Look, as a soft-touch mother, I know that parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, and, thank God I was lucky in that my kids never once brought an ounce of trouble to my door. However, I have witnessed some parents fall about laughing while their toddler removed their nappy and painted the sitting room walls with their own poo.

  So, perhaps in order to avoid the type of anti-social actions Willie is talking about taking place down the line, instead of being an over-indulgent, so-called no-rules, permissive parent and viewing little Jimmy’s/Mary’s early-years’ poo-portraits as him/her being creative, my suggestion, (as a non-expert), would be to consider very gently checking the cherubs and establishing an age-appropriate culture of accountability in the home – because if O’Dea has his way, some parents may end up being seriously out of pocket!

Lust, land and murder-most-foul in rural Ireland

 

 

 

It had everything…obsession, revenge, greed, grief, emotion, lust, land and money, all culminating in the brutal, cold and calculated slaying of what we now know was a much-loved gentleman, Bobby Ryan. However, in what has been described as the longest running murder trial in the history of the State, we found out that, during this multi-layered case, killer Patrick Quirke’s appalling act was not, as we first thought, committed as an out of character crime of passion, (or, in keeping with the drama, a crime passionnel), rather it was all about one man’s voracious appetite for craving and control.

  Throughout the compelling circumstantial evidence, we also learned that, unlike those notorious gangland murders occurring across the country that we read about here in our lovely Roscommon idyll, as the jury of six men and six women found the respected award winning farmer, financial investor and all-round-good egg Quirke guilty, the man now facing life behind bars was far removed from the hoodie-wearin’ gun-totin’ macho thug; rather he was a well-dressed,  middle-aged gent embroiled in what now appears to have been a seedy sex situation who harboured murderous thoughts, believing he could get away with committing the so-called perfect crime. Without being disrespectful to the memory of murder victim Bobby Ryan, this case bore all of the hallmarks of a Hollywood movie plot.

  Now, while I’m glad Mary Lowry is reportedly ‘in a new relationship,’ following what must have been her extremely distressing and mortifying ordeal, we must not fixate on the woman, whom, due to her illicit affair with murderer Quirke, was unfortunate enough to be the crucial witness on whom the whole case rested. She will, with a lot of soul-searching, and hopefully the support she needs, be able to move on.

  However, for wronged wife Imelda Quirke and murder victim Bobby Ryan’s family, whose unbearable loss may never leave them, I fear rebuilding their shattered lives will prove to be much more strenuous. During the trial, I admit, on a personal level, I felt a lot of sympathy for Imelda and I admired her for faithfully and loyally accompanying Quirke to court each day; for stoically standing by him, and for clearly loving him. (It wouldn’t have been me). It was evident that, as the thirteen weeks ticked by, and with each sordid revelation, the trial took its toll on this slightly built woman whose killer husband once described in a letter he sent to agony aunt Patricia Redlich, (which formed part of the evidence), as having been ‘a tremendous support and (who) loves me deeply’. Now while I don’t get it, I do understand that some women, (and some men too) can become infatuated with a ‘bad boy/girl,’ winding up in a match made in misery; and I hope Imelda can rebuild her life independent of her ruthless husband.

  We must also never forget Bobby Ryan or his grieving family; most especially his adult children Robert and Michelle  who are now left to try and pick up the remnants of their shattered lives following their dad’s horrific death at the hands an evil manipulator and his poisonous trail of ruination.  Quirke’s devious, cold-blooded and heinous crime will not only leave a stain on their lives, it’ll also leave a smear on the decent folk of Tipperary who do not deserve it, as well as on the landscape as a whole. I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Bobby Ryan who, despite being visibly tormented by the evidence, showed enormous dignity throughout the trial. I’ve no doubt their precious dad would have been proud of his children’s distinguished composure.

It must be said that at this time, lawyers for Quirke are allegedly considering grounds on which to launch an appeal.

 

What’s in your hea-ad Leo?

 

Well folks, it seems it wasn’t enough for An Taoiseach to leave us ‘spinning around’ with embarrassment following his now famous fawning letter to singer Kylie Minogue, where he enthused about how he’d love to welcome the pop icon to our Emerald Isle – because he’s only gone and done it again, and this time on the streets of Limerick where he dueted with young County Offaly busker James McKelvey during his rendition of The Cranberries’ classic Zombie!

  Out canvassing for votes, cool-dude head-boy Leo was joined on the streets of the Treaty City (and on vocals, doo-wop, doo-wop) by MEP Sean Kelly and Senators Maria Byrne and Kieran O’Donnell, and, looking painfully awkward, (in my opinion), in the course of only one chorus, our country’s leader managed to quash every single quality that might have made him even moderately desirable to voters – as well as being majorly distinguishable to other nations’ heads of state – as a hard-nosed skilled Taoiseach, capable of running our country.

  Now I don’t know about you folks, but from where I’m sitting, it appears that Leo’s team of spin doctors totally missed the mark, and I have to ask what was ‘in their hea-ads, in their hea-ads,’ because if last week’s busking shambles was evidence of their pathetic attempts to mould him into some affable bloke-next-door who gets up early in da morning so he can be down with da kids, they need to realise that this time, their plan has totally backfired.

  You see, by encouraging him to stop for an off-the-cuff, out-of-tune-croon, Leo’s out-of-touch handlers have turned our designer suit wearing man-boy/fan-boy from being a leader whom now, more than ever, (given Brexit), urgently needs to embody a confident, skilled and experienced negotiator, into a bungling self-conscious juvenile who looked (and acted) more like a reject dumped from some cheesy manufactured boyband!

  And so, in response to Mr. Varadkar’s comment where he praised busker James – telling him “You’re really good, and I don’t do bullshit” – I have to say, neither do I Leo love, and, bless you, you were woeful and are defo not my ‘golden buzzer’ act!

 

Rossies showcasing their very best

 

Congratulations to everyone involved in making last weekend’s annual Lamb Festival a huge success. Myself, himself and herself, (darling granddaughter) headed to our county town on the sunny Sunday for what was a great day’s entertainment, and marvelled at the delights and creativity of the local craft stalls housed in the town centre’s marquees, before heading along to the family fun day in Loughnaneane Park where we met lots of lovely locals manning (and womaning) the many information stands.

  One such delightful lady was Roscommon Town Tourist Information Group volunteer Cáitlin Browne (I hope I’ve got the spelling correct), with whom I had the pleasure of chatting as hubby wandered round the castle and granddaughter queued to take part in the soccer skills comp. (The queue was too long and she gave up in favour of going for lunch). Well done to the Tidy Towns’ committee who did an exemplary, and very difficult job of keeping the park litter-free, especially as I witnessed some adults, (not the kiddies), shamefully discarding rubbish on the grass.

  Now, as I’m a vegan, I did not partake of any of the food on offer, but I can appreciate the enormous efforts put in by the hard-working committee, the volunteers, the restaurants, the sponsors and the exhibitors, who all lovingly showcased our county town at its very best.

 

Today’s leaders aren’t a patch on McGuinness and Paisley

 

To see the coffin of a young woman who has died at the hands of terrorists lying in a church, is, for me, a cold and chilling reminder of the horrors of our past. By now, all right-thinking people will have welcomed Fr. Martin Magill’s stirring speech where he asked the congregation attending the funeral mass of journalist, Lyra McKee, “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?” as he acknowledged politicians from both sides of the divide for finally standing together, side by side.

  By now, readers will know that Lyra was a beautiful and talented young woman who was callously gunned down by the so-called New IRA as she observed rioting in Derry’s Creggan estate on April 18th. And, as Fr. Magill’s words sparked a spontaneous round of applause and standing ovation from mourners, we witnessed Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill as well as the DUP’s Arlene Foster looking distinctly uncomfortable, with the trio’s body language appearing to be downright awkward as they glanced sideways at each other to see who else was standing to applaud, with Arlene Foster not even attempting to bring her palms together, rather her response being to feebly tap one hand off the other in what can only be described as an apathetic effort at acknowledgement.

  However, even though it’s horrendously tragic that it took the murder of a much-loved young woman, it appears Lyra’s death has kick-started a process as, during a joint press conference with British Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has pledged “to make sure that no other ceasefire babies are murdered,” with fresh talks involving both governments, including the main parties in the North, set to begin on 7th May.

  I don’t know about you folks, but I’m praying to anyone who’ll listen that the peace we’ve all enjoyed and deserved on this island will be re-established, along with the restoration of power-sharing, before the onset of the annual scourge we call ‘the marching season’ takes hold. Moreover, I’m also praying that those who’re involved in these talks will stop malingering and show some of the leadership displayed by the late Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley.

  Even though many may not have agreed with this duo’s personal style of politics, it’s fair to say they got the job done. From where I’m sitting, the party leaders today haven’t got a patch on these two one-time sworn enemies, who finally realised that, in order to bed down the peace process, they’d each need to take major career risks. For me, (apart from Michael Collins), heroes don’t come much bigger than McGuinness and Paisley, whose unexpected friendship earned them the title ‘The chuckle brothers,’ and I worry if today’s lot have the will, the wisdom and the liathróidí to walk in their shoes. Why? Because, in the minds of the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships, I’d imagine their reputations are of paramount importance. (But I could be wrong). Thank God, the one-time IRA commander/unrepentant republican, and his best buddy, the unionist preacher-man who swore he’d “never, never, never” sit down with republicans, were change-makers who placed peace first.

  It’s no secret that the most influential and powerful politicians on both sides have outwardly indicated their intentions and their eagerness to restore power-sharing, but their spin doctors should make them realise they need to go into these talks knowing that someone will have to compromise; and, while it may appear to them that compromise means losing, it doesn’t. For us, the people they represent, compromise means winning, because those who can find it in their thick skulls to strike a middle ground, who cooperate and who concede, even just a smidgen, are not just heroes, they’re clear winners! All it requires is a bit of give and take, and we’ve got mission accomplished!

 

Give our frontline Gardaí  24-hour armed support

 

As a new report from the Policing Authority has revealed that ‘only half of Garda reform targets have been met,’ my reaction is this…if I were only performing at a rate of fifty per cent in my job, I’d be sacked! 

  Look, I’m a huge supporter of our brave police force, especially the local rank and file Gardaí, whom, with the rise of gang violence, are extremely under-resourced and yet still manage to work very hard for our communities, and I’d imagine since these findings have been made public, morale must surely have hit rock bottom, specifically among those who’re now requesting 24-hour armed support units in all divisions across the country; and rightly so. Give it to them, Minister Flanagan. They deserve it. Remember, these are the Gardaí who’re on the frontline. These are the Gardaí who know where the pressure points are. These are the Gardaí who’re being placed in perilous positions.

  So, as a taxpaying Irish citizen, and as an interfering aul wan, I’m requesting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris do two things. One, manage your budget a bit better, and two, look at your reform targets again and ask yourself the following…Were the initiatives realistic? Were they even achievable? If so, were they properly implemented? Or, was the entire exercise a shed-load of, get-it-out-there-and-make-us-look-good PR spin?

 

Restaurants are not adventure playgrounds

I’ve no problem with mini diners having an occasional little episode in restaurants. It happens. However, even if their appalling editing skills annoy me, I agree with the Mediterranean restaurant in Llandudno, North Wales whose dining room ‘rules’ for parents state that “If a child cannot be stopped from disturbing other dinners (sic) we will unfortunately have to ask you to leave the restaurant”.

  Look, whether it’s a child throwing a hissy fit or an adult acting like a feral hooligan, I believe all establishments should be able to politely ask noisy, rowdy, troublesome patrons to leave their premises; after all, a restaurant/hotel is not an adventure playground! Now I’ve never come across a badly-behaved child in any Roscommon establishment I’ve visited, (it’s the truth, they’re all little angels), but I’ve got a major issue with those parents who have a blind spot when it comes to their offspring and whom, instead of making sure the little rugrats sit nicely at the table and not run around causing not only a nuisance but possibly a serious accident, choose instead to ignore them in favour of texting and taking selfies!

 

Is there a code of omertà around Mother and Baby homes?

 

 

 

Last week we celebrated 70 years since our  country officially became a republic, (it happened at midnight Easter Monday on 18th of April 1949), yet I for one, a normally proud Irishwoman, feel sick to my stomach and thoroughly ashamed. You see, (in the same week), according to a new report, the burial locations of hundreds of babies and children who died in the State’s notorious mother and baby hell-holes remains unknown. Now, with regard to our highly respected neighbours in Tuam, the institution, (run by the Sisters of Bons Secours), was situated on a site allegedly operated and owned by Galway County Council, whom, in the face of deep criticism relating to them not being able to produce a legally required Register of Burials, is, let me state, insisting it is ‘fully co-operating with the investigation’.

  Now, during the course of my work, I’ve visited Tuam many times, and let me declare that it is populated by wonderfully decent human beings, people who deserve respect. However, as the town is sadly notorious as being the location of the disreputable Mother and Baby home, which harbours a mass burial site containing the remains of hundreds of babies who perished while in the care of the Order who ran it, I’d have to agree with the investigation and say that yes, it’s entirely possible that some local workers would’ve passed through its grounds on a regular basis. And, given this theory, I’d imagine that this week, the stench of humiliation, remorse, guilt, hypocrisy, and possibly fear is permeating that normally glorious Tuam air. 

  In relation to Bessborough, which was run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, I’d also agree with the report when it asserts, that, it is “very difficult to comprehend” how those who managed it have no information to offer concerning the locations of the burial places of the hundreds of infants and children who died in their care. Are we expected to believe that not a single, solitary, chaste, God-fearing Catholic among this lot has any credible info whatsoever, and can’t (or refuse) to provide even a smidgen of a clue that’d point families in the right direction?  

  Look Sisters, maths isn’t my strong point, but if, between the decades of 1920 and 1980 nine hundred little souls perished at Bessborough, I make that fifteen deaths a year, so it’s absolutely staggering that not one single nun among you can come forward and break their silence; leading me to ask if there’s some sort of omertà in place here? If this shameful practice had happened anywhere else in the EU, the entire scandal would be referred to The Hague…and rightly so!

  Well done to Minister Katherine Zappone, who appears to be genuinely doing her best to get to the bottom of this horror, and who has passionately appealed to anyone with answers relating to these places of persecution to “let us know where they (the children) are buried”.

  I mean no disrespect to our wonderful neighbours in Tuam, and I fully understand we are living in very different times. I empathise with those of you who may have information but whom, up to now, for whatever reason, have (disgracefully) remained silent.

  However, whether these tight-lipped individuals are possible members of the local clergy, are close family, or indeed, are possibly former members of an Garda Síochána, or are a part of the local community and council, etc., I’d implore you, given the revelations, and given the unspeakable horrors that befell these innocent little angels, it’s reasonable to assume your continued silence may be construed as not only being your acceptance, but possibly your collusion in the unauthorised and unrecorded disposal of innocent babies and young children’s bodies; babies who were Irish citizens with both legal and human rights.

  So today, examine that part of your conscience making you stand idly by, and come out and tell us what you know. The families, and indeed Ireland as a whole, needs a forensic investigation to bring about clarification and justice for these children and their mothers.

  For more information, please contact the HSE on 1850-241850.

 

I’m keeping the dogs!

 

You’re probably already aware, but a pre-nuptial agreement has absolutely no basis in Irish law, and is, therefore not binding. However, while there may be many reasons why a couple would sign a pre-nup prior to tying the knot, (money being the main one), as far as I’m concerned, retaining custody of the beloved fur babies would definitely be top of my list!

  I only mention this because the fight to retain custody of the family pet following a divorce is on the rise here in Ireland. And, as I love my doggies as much as I love my kids, (more, according to my eldest), I can fully understand this scenario and it’s for this very reason, as well as the fact that, according to the UK’s Blue Cross, ‘30,000 divorce cases in the past year involved a dispute over a pet,’ that, on an occasion where I’m asked to carry out a voluntary home-check for an animal rescue charity, I’ve been known to ask the surprised applicants the one question everyone else avoids, and that is, have they made plans for the pet in the unlikely event they go their separate ways? When the answer’s ‘er, no,’ I ask, well, are they planning to return the poor dog/cat back to the rescue? When the reply is, ‘well yes probably,’ I follow up with, does the same apply to the kiddies? As in, will they pack up the cherubs and return them to the maternity hospital? No…of course they won’t!  So isn’t it reasonable for me to ask them to consider making arrangements for their pets prior to their commitment to adopt.

  Therefore, (and not that I’m contemplating it whatsoever because I adore him), but, if he-who-can-assemble-an-entire-car-engine-with-his-eyes-shut-yet-can’t-tidy-away-his-spanners and myself ever decide we no longer deserve our Lifetime Achievement Award for putting up with each other, let me state here and now that I’m keeping our dogs!

 

Well done on an ‘egg-cellent’ Easter Parade!

 

There was a great buzz in the county town last Sunday as locals donned their glad rags and flocked to the town’s annual Easter Parade. Well done to everyone who took part. The sun shone on what was definitely a healthy dose of community spirit at its very best with everyone in attendance looking happy and content…and why shouldn’t they be? Roscommon is a thriving county, full of fantastic people who not only believe in promoting and cultivating sense of belonging, they showcase it. Other counties would do well to take note! Just sayin’!

 

A week in politics that broke my cringe-o-meter

 

 

 

To quote former British PM Harold Wilson, ‘a week is a long time in politics!’ Firstly, (and unsurprisingly), little was achieved regarding Brexit, other than the six-month ‘flextension’ farce. This means we now have a scenario whereby the UK will continue to be a full EU member state, retaining all of the associated rights until, of all dates, Hallow E’en. Are yez ‘avin’ a larf? I hope readers will forgive me for saying it, but the phrase too many freaks and not enough circuses springs to mind here.

  Now, okay, I suppose the longer the whole mess goes on, and the further down the road the can is kicked, the better it is for us because hey…they may not even leave at all, as, (in my opinion), the move for a second referendum appears to be gathering pace.

  However folks, and I do hate to rake up old wounds, (no, really, I do), especially as we’re all so palsy walsy now, but, given our lovely neighbours over-stayed their ‘visit’ to us by eight hundred years, I’m going to assume that, come Hallow E’en, the rest of the EU will still be pulling all-nighter-crisis-talks with auntie Theresa, (if she hasn’t been deposed beforehand) – simply because the UK just don’t seem to be able to grasp that the whole Brexit thingy is not really all that difficult to achieve.

  I mean, if you want to be Euro-free lads, all you have to do is agree a withdrawal deal that puts an arrangement in place regarding the whole ‘Irish issue,’ and then leave, and we can all live happily ever after…simples!

  Meanwhile, talking of kicking the can…when someone brazenly hides behind their lawyers as an excuse to refuse to answer questions, my paranoia shoots straight through the roof. Then, as the seeds of doubt begin to take root, my suspicious mind suddenly switches from wondering if that someone is simply just trying to titillate and tantalise us, or worse…if they’ve actively gone to this much trouble to avoid responding to what were reasonable questions, then how harrowing are their answers going to be?

  You see folks, as the unravelling commenced and the buffoonery progressed, I was half-expecting someone sitting at last week’s Oireachtas Sport Committee proceedings to swiftly whip out a ukulele and compose a melancholy Country ‘n’ Western ditty called, ahem, The Dirge of John Delaney…or something like that, because, quite frankly, I was amazed by the man’s total refusal to ‘walk the line,’ and not only decline to answer TDs’ questions regarding the €100,000 loan he gave the association, but, worryingly, at that sitting, he didn’t even go so far as to clarify issues relating to FAI governance. Look John love, if there had been nothing to see, you should have just explained that, and then politely pushed off. I mean, why the need for a so-called gagging order? Sure the whole drama was akin to trying to unravel the plot of an Agatha Christie whodunit!

  Now folks, dubious as Delaney’s behaviour was, I have to comment that Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae’s incredible defence of him was equally puzzling. I mean, talk about ‘standing by your man’. Healy-Rae’s geeky fan-boy reaction, pledging that Delaney would be afforded “the mother of all welcomes” the next time he came to Kerry, was so farcical, I swear to God readers, it actually broke my cringe-o-meter! Will yez ever get a room lads, ‘cos this is possibly the biggest bro-mance since Batman met Robin! Holy heap of boot-lickin’ Batman…I mean Michael!

  Look, I’m not a footie fan at all but, for me, it seems the entire episode has raised more questions than it has managed to answer. However, as a bystander, I’m now wondering if perhaps John Delaney, (and the beleaguered association) really believed he was untouchable, and, given that he has run the organisation for fifteen years, I would imagine his backers and dedicated soccer fans alike, must have viewed him as being the ultimate, the faultless, Mr. FAI!

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

 

Teachers are not substitute parents

 

A report that a primary school in Walsall in the UK has been forced to hire a ‘dedicated nappy changer,’ because some of the students attending have not been properly toilet trained is, in my opinion, very worrying.

  Now okay, I do understand that these kids are in the four and five year age group, meaning they’re very young, and of course some little ones may have an issue or two when it comes to doing their business in a strange place; I do get it. I’m an adult who carries a pack of antibacterial wipes and a hand sanitiser 24/7 in the unlikely event I may need to use a loo other than my own!

  I find this very interesting. We live in an age where toddlers as young as two years’ old are able to master a smartphone or a tablet, which I believe is fantastic when it comes to their future digital/technology preparation, their hand-eye coordination development, and in enhancing  their problem solving skills. In addition, (and I’ll bet child development experts are rolling their eyes right now), I also believe it’s great for a parent/grandparent to be able to hand the ankle-biters these devices when they’re sitting in their car seat whinging with boredom, or climbing out of the supermarket trolley throwing a tantrum! Sure isn’t the aul mobile a Godsend. However, I would assume that when it comes to a child’s personal development, not to mention their individual hygiene practices, teaching them to be independently capable of using the loo is also vitally important.

  Look, I’m always supportive of time-poor, over-stretched parents, (I was one), but school teachers are not employed to be substitute mammies and daddies; they’re educators! And while of course any decent school will work with families regarding addressing certain needs their child may have, as far as I would imagine, changing nappies just because someone has neglected to potty-train their little darling in preparation for big school should not be one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stop demonising farmers – they are not ruining the planet!

 

 

 

Last week, a teacher resource pack, which apparently is part of the An Taisce Green Schools’ programme, was rolled out in an effort to call for teachers in Irish classrooms to encourage students to eat less meat. Great! I’m all for saving animals’ lives. This latest move, which is allegedly endorsed by Minister for Communications Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton TD, should, for someone like me (a vegan and dedicated animal welfare supporter), be music to my ears. But instead, I find it all a bit very holier-than-thou(ish), for the simple reason I’ve always believed in the old adage that there’s no such thing as the one-size-fits-all scenario, and people should be allowed to consume whatever foods they wish; with hopefully a healthy, happy lifestyle being the overall objective. 

  You see, as a former animal welfare officer/humane education lecturer, when I spoke in schools and colleges, (including the UCD School of Veterinary), and, when Eurogroup for Animals invited me to give a presentation to a delegation of leaders from 27 EU member states in Brussels, my lesson plans always focused on the humane and compassionate treatment of all animals as well as enlightening participants regarding how the meat and dairy industry can have an impact on both human and animal health in the wider environment. So, okay, you get it folks…Mir kinda knows her stuff!

   But here’s the thing readers…never once did I, and never once will I, ever tell anyone to stop consuming meat and dairy. Why? Because it is none of my business what people eat!

  Besides, (and while I mean no disrespect to the minister), I’d have to ask Mr. Bruton if he’s fully thought this whole initiative through. I mean, what’s his cunning plan if the following were to happen? That’s if the whole country stops eating meat and dairy and instead everyone becomes like me, (a vegan), and farmers are forced to industrially grow grains, fruit, soya and maize, etc.? That would mean using massive amounts of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers, etc., all of which can contaminate soil, seriously degrading it due to their chemical input. This, in turn, can blight our water supply and negatively affect other vegetation, as well as killing insects and proving toxic to our birds and our fish.

  While I applaud this wonderful Green School initiative, my advice to those who’re involved in rolling it out would be to concentrate their efforts on educating parents and children regarding the practice of shopping and supporting our local farmers and suppliers. Show them how the use of sustainable forms of farming methods, which are based on traditional structures, can help our planet, and for God’s sake, stop demonising farmers and trying to force them to turn away from meat and dairy production!

  I mean, ask yourselves two questions…how are farmers going to earn their living? And – do we really want to pressure them into growing crops that require massive amounts of toxins? 

  The bottom line here is that perhaps our educators, and our government, need to understand that they have not just got a major responsibility, but indeed an obligation and a duty, when it comes to enlightening students and their parents regarding the whole ‘stop-eating-meat’ issue because, unless everyone in Ireland sources their vegetarian/vegan produce and products specifically via a one hundred per cent organic source, (impossible…I’ve tried it), then we are in danger of, (and will be guilty of), engaging in the destruction of our soil. If this happens, we will deprive our beautiful wildlife and our insects of their lives…thus remarkably, and sinfully contributing to the serious threat we face from climate change, which will then increase the carbon footprint dilemma the minister is trying to reduce!

  What we need is an end to unethical, high-carbon polluting practices, however, (and it may seem mad coming from a vegan), persecuting farmers and telling everyone that giving up meat/dairy will save our planet is not only ludicrous, it’s also a clear indication to me that somebody hasn’t done their homework!

 

Who do you think you are, Mel B?

 

Mel B, aka Scary Spice, once told the world, (according to a piece carried in The Guardian), that she was ‘ecstatically in love with her husband, Stephen Belafonte’. That the pair ‘were soulmates,’ sharing ‘an extraordinary intimacy,’ and they were ‘so compatible, she’d basically married herself’. Bless her. So, you get the picture; they were mad for each other.

  However, given more recent allegations surrounding drug binges and horrific abuse within the marriage, (and her memoir Brutally Honest), it’s now clear that the leopard-skin clad, tongue-pierced one was telling big porkies. So, having read that the raucous attention-seeker had publicly dropped the aul me-and Ginger- had-a-fling bombshell on the eve of a Spice Girls’ tour, which is allegedly only happening to help Scary crawl out of debt following her costly divorce, I think Ginger, who denies anything happened, is right to feel ‘upset,’ and ‘hurt’. However, I’d not only question Mel B’s motives, I’d also question her credibility and ask if she’s ahem, distorting the truth?

  Look, I don’t care if the two (of them) became one, I don’t even like the Spice Girls, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s no worse an unladylike position in which a gal can find herself than publicly kissing and telling on a former lover. For me, due to her big mouth, Mel B has become a walking punchline, with a reputation for milking the last drop of publicity out of a supposed historical liaison. You see, by dishing up dirt concerning her alleged dalliance with her now happily married/mother bandmate all those years ago, Scary has committed one of the cardinal sins against being classed as both a lady and as a ‘girl power’ role model, leading me to wonder if she’s just another desperate ‘wannabe’ bore, banging on about notches on her bedpost in an attempt to generate ticket sales, and er, ‘spice up her life’.

  So, for any future partners out there, I’d suggest that ‘if you wannabe her lover,’ be prepared for Scary to blab, because it appears the woman simply cannot resist washing both hers, and your, dirty laundry in public.

Helping an abuse survivor to heal can be hard – but it’s not impossible

 

 

A single ‘phone call alerting me to the death of a deeply-despised person changed the direction of this week’s column. Therefore, in my attempt to show solidarity with fellow abuse survivors, (both male and female) who’ve experienced a life-altering encounter, my content will be of an adult nature.

  The well-meant, yet hesitant, “I’m not sure if you’re aware, but X is dead,” was intended to bring me solace. Lift a weight off my shoulders. You see, X’s demise, I’ve since learned, was some months in the making, and occurred thanks to him drinking himself to death. Dipsomania was a behaviour X had engaged in prior to him savagely raping me, and of course, he continued to abuse alcohol long afterwards. It would appear, fellow survivors, that causing damage and destruction was a big part of this freak’s depraved nature. Indeed, his ‘alcoholism’ and ‘depression’ were ‘medical conditions’ and excuses used by his, (and by a certain member of my own) family, as the perfect justification to condone his disgusting act. And, because my grief surrounding what he did to me remains somewhat unresolved, news of his death brought me no solace and sadly, no closure. 

  Those who’ve experienced sexual abuse will likely tell you that the crematorium, (I’m told they cremated him), and the death of a much-despised one, is not, as I’ve come to discover, the place to bury the hurt hatchet. And, while it’s difficult for loved ones to offer consolation to survivors under these circumstances, I implore you, to please, do not place this monster’s death centre stage, and instead, ask how the news makes them feel…ask what trauma it has likely triggered; be present with them and do not fob them off with “look, he’s gone, forget about him,” because to do that only forces your loved one to try to heal in isolation and in shame. We deserve better from you! We deserve and we need your support to help us try to erase our pain, and hopefully, find our peace.

  You see, despite my certainty that X is now lifeless – and I knew, as I received the call, his shell of a drink-ravaged body was physically lying on a cold mortuary slab in a Dublin hospital – the fact is, in that moment, both mentally, and within every nerve of my body, the act he’d forced upon me over a decade ago was still very real. Still tremendously tangible. And yes, while I do feel enormous relief that the world is now one sick pervert short – and while I’m over the physical aspects of what he did to me – the bottom line is, in the innermost crevices of my heart, I, like many other abuse survivors, am quietly carrying the huge burden of coming to terms with a situation where some ugly whack-job’s single, selfish act has caused me to lose so, so much. In my case I lost what I’d thought was a happy, solid, mutually loving and respectful (former) marriage, (he didn’t defend my honour), a beautiful home I’d worked my butt off to buy, and the life I once had.

  But hey survivors, we cannot change our past. And, this week, while I’ve come to the realisation that rehashing heart-wrenching memories of X’s attack will only serve to keep me mired in a hurricane of pain and grief, at least I can take comfort in knowing that, due to his death, his name will (hopefully) no longer be uttered at social gatherings. However, while it feels abnormal to humanise the demon that caused me so much hurt, learning about his death at such an advanced stage means I was robbed of the opportunity to have confronted him face to face. Robbed of my moment to look him in his blurry, alcohol-damaged eyes, and, before he lapsed into his coma, inform him that while he will be gone from this earth forever, my future, in which he will no longer be able to insert himself, will be mine…to live on, and to claim as my own. 

* For readers who have been affected by physical/emotional/sexual abuse, here is the national 24-Hour Helpline on 1800 77 8888 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

TV licence fee payers deserve a refund, not an increase!

On a lighter note…apparently, according to Larry Bass, the (I’d imagine) highly-paid producer of RTE’s Dancing with the Stars, the show’s return is ‘in jeopardy unless the TV licence (fee) is increased’…from the current daylight robbery rate of €160. Now as far as I’m concerned, due to the inferior level of what in my opinion is third rate tripe currently being churned out by RTE, our national broadcaster should not only hang its head in shame, it should give us licence fee payers a refund, not an increase. 

  Look Larry love, while I enjoyed watching your series, (I do love an aul dance), the thing is, going to the RTE canteen and gathering Z listers, (sorry stars), some of whom have probably plummeted to rock-bottom on the entertainment value scale (in fact, a few had names that barely even registered with viewers) and then, with a neck bigger than a jockey’s privates, packaging them as ‘must see’ TV, before using the offering as a driftnet to lure us cash-strapped licence fee payers to generate and justify a bigger budget for yourself, is downright greedy.

  Okay, while I have a choice not to watch a broadcaster that appears to go the extra mile when showcasing a shed-load of inferior programmes, unfortunately, as it’s a legal requirement, I pay my licence fee with all of the enthusiasm of a woman with a gun aimed at her head! According to Mr. Bass, “If RTÉ isn’t correctly funded, it can’t run the schedules as it’s been running”. Really? Then great! No loss.

  I can do without paying for jolly holiday road trips for Daniel and his ‘dipstick,’ (no not Majella…his rod for measuring the level of oil in his camper van). Ya had to see the episode! And don’t get me started on the self-congratulatory bunch featured on Celebrity Globetrotters…whom, it must be said, under normal conditions, would barely register as Z listers, who were, bless them, taken ‘completely out of their comfort zones,’ (er, what was that now, tracksuits, hoodies and crocs?) in order to live it large on taxpayers’ money! Seriously RTE, I’ve been better entertained watching the in-flight safety video on a budget airline.

 

 

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