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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Bye bye, Maria...thank you for playing!

 

 

Well it all kicked off at the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, the place where – ironically – my great hero Michael Collins used to hide out (in room 210 allegedly) with Kitty Kiernan; yet last week, this historic hotel could provide no hiding place for Fine Gael ‘swing-gate’ TD Maria Bailey! The (some will say disgraced), TD’s efforts to sue the Dean Hotel in Dublin after she fell off a swing at their premises had sparked the urgent review of her place on Fine Gael’s party election ticket. I must mention that Ms. Bailey later dropped this case.

  However, the resulting controversy could spell the end of her political career, and while I believe we all make mistakes, in my opinion anyone who submits an inflated claim regarding an incident where personal responsibility is probably a clear-cut issue, yet isn’t big enough to admit they were wrong, er, kinda deserves what they get! Too harsh?  Well, if it all goes pear-shaped, Maria could always take up acting as a career. I mean that aftermath Oscar-winning, blame-shifting ‘please pity me’ performance she gave on Today with Sean O’Rourke was so breathtaking, I’d go so far as to say it could have rivalled the screen antics of drama queen Bette Davis herself! 

  In a time where businesses are closing down due to rising  premiums and where insurance providers are insisting their escalating costs are due to unethical claims, it’s totally understandable that a prominent TD’s puffed-up claim would enrage the taxpayers. I know it certainly angered me! Mind you, as the local Fine Gael members’ recommendation regarding a review will now go to the party hierarchy with respect to Ms. Bailey’s political future, (a decision on which I believe won’t be reached until next week), it’s my opinion there could still be a few twists to this sorry saga! You see, it’s likely that it won’t be an easy task to remove what is a democratically selected sitting TD; therefore this whole scandal has plunged Fine Gael into uncharted territory. But hey, as they’re consistently throwing taxpayers like you and me under the bus, it goes without saying that it serves them right. 

  As for Ms. Bailey, well, while I don’t think her actions warrant the reconvening of the Nuremberg Trials, as she did drop a major clanger, I’ll admit it’s really hard for me to garner any sympathy for her. Indeed, as she awaits her fate, I’d imagine the embattled TD is possibly feeling sad, lonely, jobless, party-less, friendless…in fact, the poor thing’s probably only seconds away from recording a country album (only joking, love).

  But allow me to be empathetic here and say to Maria that if part of her overall argument is that we, (the poor taxpayers) don’t know all of the pertinent facts, then my response to her would be…outline them for us! If this TD has any information that can save her seat, she shouldn’t be holding back, she should be revealing it…otherwise, if she doesn’t, well, it’s gonna be a case of bye bye Maria, thank you for playing!

 

We should punish all sex abusers, whether male or female

 

Last week, following her guilty plea to two counts of ‘defilement of a child,’ a 25-year-old female secondary school teacher was jailed for having sex with her then fifth-year 16-year-old male student. Now while some of my kind-hearted readers have stopped me to say they “felt sorry for the young woman”, let me state that as far as I’m concerned, she did the crime, and she should do the time.

  I understand this woman’s defence has argued that she was, at the time of the offence, a 23-year-old ‘young and inexperienced teacher,’ but I’m glad she was punished by our courts’ system. Indeed, I personally find it insulting that we, as parents, are expected to believe on any level that an individual could fully qualify as a teacher, nay, a shaper of young minds, and not know that it is illegal, and it is wrong, to have a sexual relationship with a minor. Let me be balanced here and say that there are many instances whereby a consenting younger male (who has reached the age of majority) can engage and enjoy a physical relationship with a consenting older female, however we should never, ever underestimate the fact that some women can, and do, control. And some women can, and do, abuse. Indeed, as this particular case, and its implications regarding a serious breach of trust between teacher and student, and teacher and parent, has clearly highlighted for us.

  Now it goes without saying readers, that if the tables were turned and a male teacher had engaged in sex with an underage female student, I’m certain the perpetrator would not have been afforded the sympathetic ‘mitigating circumstances’ defence made available to this predatory woman. Nay, there’d have been an outcry, and rightly so. And, while I’m no specialist, just a concerned citizen, I’d like to ask the ‘child abuse expert’ whose court report stated that this abusive woman ‘was not a paedophile,’ but was basically, bless her, just a naïve and immature soul, to explain how they reached such a conclusion. While this expert is obviously a highly respected professional, the thing is, based on the high standards around integrity and sound judgement set out for being involved in the teaching profession, it’s evident a criminal act was committed. In view of that, perhaps this ‘expert’ might now like to take a long hard look at their own forms of rational reasoning. Just a suggestion.

  Seriously readers, it’s about time we prosecuted and punished all sex abusers, be they male or female, because the seriousness of such heinous crimes should never, ever be left to hang primarily on the gender of the one who commits these vile acts.

 

Pension auto-enrolment is a key policy tool…apparently!

 

Apparently readers, under criteria announced last week, those of us working in the private sector who’re between the ages of 23 and 60 years, earning over €20 grand a year will, (if we don’t have a private pension), soon find ourselves auto-enrolled into a government scheme! So, I hear you ask…what’s this gonna cost me?

  Well, as far as I understand, workers will make a contribution of 1.5 per cent of our wages. This will rise to 6 per cent over ten years. So, a significant enough amount…I hear you say!  But hey, our employers will match this on earnings up to €75 grand! As for the government…what’ll they pay into it? Ah well, at the time of writing, the suits hadn’t yet bothered to reveal what their financial input will be. You could say that on one hand this may be a nice top-up to our State pension, but, on the other, as a defined contribution scheme, the whole situation could prove highly unpredictable, and you, me and other suckers, sorry workers, will probably, as usual, bear the entire risk! Apparently this will happen on a phased basis from 2022!

 

 

The horrors of last week highlight the escalating problem of human trafficking

 

The very idea that thirty-nine people could freeze to death in a truck trailer in their quest to seek a better life is not just heartbreaking; it’s also scarcely credible in this day an age. In fact, the sheer awfulness of this tragedy (with its apparent Irish links) serves to highlight the rapidly escalating problem that is human trafficking. 

  Therefore, as the international investigation into the deaths continues, like others, I have to wonder what would persuade anyone to leave their homes and families and attempt a hazardous trip to the other side of the world where they believe (or are told) they’ll be able to live a more lucrative lifestyle? Those vulnerable people who made that life-ending trip last week, must have known they were entering another country illegally, meaning they would on some level have realised that if things didn’t go according to plan, they wouldn’t have felt comfortable going to the authorities for help. Yet, for some reason, these poor souls, possibly upon analysing the obvious risk factors involved, decided to take their chances. And why? Was it because their lives were so horrendous back home? Or was it because the lies they were spun – by what I can only describe as predatory pimps – were so believable, the deceased, despite being at a disproportionately high risk for future exploitation, handed over their cash and placed themselves at the mercy of manipulative people?

  As desperation, poverty and vulnerability are all on the rise, those in need will always be at risk of being coerced into what may become life-threatening situations. Indeed exploitation will always be the driving force behind the current scale of human trafficking, which has become so massive, it has now morphed into a phenomenally lucrative business, taking on many forms. However, this latest tragedy, which has rocked Ireland, (and the world), has brought the illegal transportation of what must have been distraught and wretched human beings, and their resulting victimisation and deaths, under sharp scrutiny.

  Amid reports of these desperate people paying international gangs up to Stg£30,000 each in order to take their trip, given the profit margins involved, is it any wonder that these immigration-based crimes are on the rise? Indeed, the fact that our own country’s name has been implicated in this latest catastrophic incident not only brings this exploitative industry closer to home, it also serves to show us the full scope of the overall operation. Now it stands to reason that criminals will always look for a market, and of course the more global they can make that market the more profitable it will be. Therefore, given existing legislation appears to be clearly inadequate when it comes to addressing the severity of the issue, I’d imagine it’ll be hard for the Gardaí and their UK counterparts to pinpoint not only the actual scale of this exploitation, but the mastermind(s) behind it. 

  The underlying horror here is that this heart-shredding story will not serve to be the watershed moment that makes authorities sit up and tighten legislation; rather it will likely become another nine-day wonder. Lessons will not be learned and vulnerable people will still risk their lives in search of a better life. May those thirty-nine souls rest in peace. My thoughts are with their grief-stricken families and friends.

Is favouritism alive and well and living in the Dáil?

 

I see the ‘boil water’ notice has been lifted in Dublin, Kildare and Meath…oh great, thank God this highly important issue has been resolved; I mean, I was all ready to don my black armband and go into mourning for those thirsty city folk! Told ya…multiple sarcasms! 

 

  Look, when I arrived in this county, I was under a ‘boil water’ notice for two years…yep, two whole years, but did anybody care? Nope! In fact the water coming out of my tap was so bad, not only did I not wish to drink it, I didn’t wish to shower in it! But hey, was our precarious and toxic situation down here in Roscommon addressed as a matter of urgency in the Dáil? Er no! Was a ‘top priority’ tag placed on the incident? Er no! And why was that? Well, I can only assume that as the contamination of our rural water didn’t affect our city-dwelling senior politicians, our fate remained unimportant.

  Indeed, I’m wondering if the reason last week’s Dublin/Kildare/Meath water emergency was sorted so quickly was due to the fact it directly affected an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s own home and impacted on his Dublin West constituency? Hmmm, reality check here folks…methinks that as rural Roscommon appears to continue to fall victim to the values and the priorities of the big cities, that it’s clear favouritism and preferentialism are alive and well and possibly living in the Dáil!

 Wishing Conor all the very best!

 

Last week I watched deadbeat walking, (sorry, that’s what I call Conor McGregor), announce his UFC comeback fight with, at the time of writing, an unnamed opponent. I have to say, despite the fact I’m a proud Dubliner, I for one won’t be cheering him on.

  In my opinion, given McGregor’s disgraceful pattern of behaviours, (or alleged disgraceful behaviours), this mouthpiece is, for me, not so much a sportsman, rather he serves as an insult to those of us who pride ourselves in coming from similar working class backgrounds.

  Let me tell you folks that every time this bragger opens his cake-hole, I feel myself physically cringing and I’m concerned that his fans, who follow him like sheep, will not only believe his conduct and his er, capers, are acceptable, they’ll also believe they’re normal. Okay, McGregor is the epitome of the fairytale rags-to-riches story, and for that I applaud him. However, using a set of expletives to announce your Octagon comeback when young, impressionable sports fans are listening – saying “I do not give a f**k who the opponents is” – doesn’t so much make McGregor ‘Notorious,’, rather it makes him pitiful!

  He’s arguably giving Dubliners a bad name too! Let me assure you that while every decent Dubliner who lives among you may be motivated to earn as much dosh as we can by working hard, it is not our aim to flaunt it as egomaniacally or as coarsely as we can. Nor is it our aim to offend as many people as we can.

  Remember this, all you young up and coming sports stars; while carrying on like a mouthy degenerate and then draping our country’s flag over your shoulders may generate you a fan base, it will not generate you any real respect. However, as I’m a woman known for reaching multiple sarcasms, (er, that was sarcasms), I’ll finish by wishing Conor all the very best!

 

 

 

 

 

When dealing with our homeless crisis, is Eoghan in way over his bouncy blow-dry?

 

 

 

According to the well-known traditional Irish ballad, ‘Dublin Saunter,’ (made famous by actor Noel Purcell), ‘Grafton Street’s a wonderland, there’s magic in the air;’ well folks, it’s not if you’re five years old, homeless and hungry. Don’t believe me? Just ask ‘Sam’ (not his real name), the innocent little five-year-old boy whose picture, taken as he sat on the cold concrete eating a dinner of carbonara off a sheet of cardboard, went viral last week.

  The image has sparked outrage, and rightly so. ‘Sam’s’ plight was brought to light when himself and his mammy sought the help of volunteers working with the Homeless Street Café charity on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Indeed, a volunteer who helped the family, was so upset they posted the image on social media, describing the scene as being ‘burned’ into their minds.

  Well I know how they feel, because, both as a mother, and as a human being, the situation has had an awful affect on me. In fact, I want to know how Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy TD, would feel if his own family were forced into such a desperate situation on what is ironically, one of our capital’s most upmarket thoroughfares, known for boasting a who’s who of designer shops and posh-nosh eateries?

  In addition, having viewed ‘Sam’s’ picture and hearing how his, and other families whose lives have, through no fault of their own, suddenly imploded, I quickly realised that myself and hubby, (like many other renters and homeowners living in Roscommon), are possibly in a similar situation. Indeed, as I digested ‘Sam’s’ story, the child’s parents’ predicament gave me a clear snapshot of the ever-changing landscape of Ireland’s homeless, highlighting for me what is a worrying phenomenon that charities are trying hard to highlight. It seems that this mother and her child are no different to people like you and me. They’re ordinary folk whom, before becoming homeless, were living ordinary lives. They’re not the so-called stereotypical homeless, rather they’re what is called ‘the new homeless,’ which I assume means they’re not experiencing a mental illness, nor are they substance abusers or criminals, etc. (Now I’m not generalising here, nor am I laying blame on anyone who is vulnerable or unfortunate enough to become homeless through substance abuse or mental illness, etc., I’m simply using these scenarios as a regrettable comparison). Indeed I have enormous compassion for anyone who is experiencing difficulties of any kind.

  In fact, looking at my own situation, I realised that, like some of my readers, I too am possibly at risk of becoming homeless. I hope not…but I once had a big, beautiful showhouse of a home in Dublin. However, due to a painful marriage breakdown, (and yes, I know I was the one who walked out), in order to preserve my sanity and secure my freedom, I signed over my sanctuary to my ex. By doing that, I precariously placed myself in the distressing position of being so close to the edge of the homeless whirlpool, I became – like many renters – dangerously close to getting sucked in and drowning.

  It’s time Eoghan Murphy, (a man who appears to be so self-obsessed he should probably be cautioned for stalking himself), gets his perfectly quaffed head out of his backside and does his job! And if he can’t, then he should resign due to what I’d deem to be his clear and disgraceful dereliction of duty.

  Readers, it’s up to you what political party you support, but when small children are forced to sit on cold concrete to eat their meals, when people who are in full-time unemployment can’t get access to mortgages, and when rents are rising to an unmanageable level, it’s time to re-think our voting preferences. Indeed, I’d say that Eoghan and his Department’s only real talent lies in their use of deceptively flowery language, used to circumvent the fact that his so-called efforts have proved highly ineffectual when it comes to tackling our country’s homeless and poverty crises.

  Indeed, given his blurb, which states his ‘responsibility is to provide the framework and the practical supports needed to build a society that enables our people to live fulfilling lives, in a safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly manner,’ I’d go so far as to say Eoghan doesn’t understand his own brief. Perhaps it’s not his fault; perhaps he’s in way over his bouncy blow-dry…who knows? One thing’s for sure though, Eoghan’s – and this government’s – obvious failure and blatant ineptitude should be suitably recognised and rewarded in the same way any boss would react to an employee’s non-performance…with their P45 and the sack!

 

 

Is the Dáil the place where truth, honesty and ethics go to die?

The scandalous revelations regarding the admission that Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins voted on behalf of fellow TD Timmy Dooley six times in the Dáil last Thursday – while the latter was absent from the chamber – certainly paints a depressing and worrying picture of some of our country’s public representatives.

  Indeed, since the Dooley-Collins vote-gate disclosure, (described as a ‘misunderstanding’ – yeah, right) – it has transpired that a second Fianna Fáil frontbencher, Lisa Chambers (FF’s spokesperson on Brexit), has also admitted to ‘mistakenly’ voting for colleague Dara Calleary. This ‘mistake’ apparently occurred when Lisa ‘sat in Dara Calleary’s seat’, which is ‘beside my seat’. Seriously? I mean if our TDs are so befuddled they can’t differentiate between which seat is which, how can we charge them with leading and protecting our country? 

  This is a very serious issue we have here. The Dáil is the very place where our country’s legislation is created, amended and confirmed, and I for one would expect that all voting carried out would be above board. Yet now, given this, (I was going to be nice and say discrepancy), but you all know I don’t mince my words, so I’ll call it what it is... betrayal, I want to ask two questions – 1: Can we trust our public representatives? 2: Is our Dáil the place where truth, honesty and ethics go to die?

  One thing’s for sure, I’ll bet these ’mistakes’ and ‘misunderstandings’ will cost FF dearly on the doorsteps, especially as they now provide the opposition with a golden opportunity to sling plenty of muck their way in the run-up to the General Election.

 

 

I (don’t) want to ride my bicycle, Eamon!

 

 

 

 

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, right, says he ‘deeply regrets the hurt’ caused by his recent comments about carpooling in rural Ireland. I’ll bet he does, especially given the country’s more than likely going to the polls next May. Yep, frantically back-peddling, (pun intended, because this genius suggested rural village dwellers could ‘cycle down to a local collection point’ to pick up our proposed shared car), the deeply deluded one was quick to try and clarify his absurd suggestion. Feverishly issuing a statement (possibly drawn up by an over-wrought PR officer), it now appears that poor misunderstood Eamon didn’t want to take away our cars, nay, nay and thrice nay dear readers, he only wanted to ‘provide people in rural Ireland with extra options’. Ah, bless his tender heart.

  Now, idiotic as Deputy Ryan’s comments – and his pathetic attempt at clarification – may be, it has to be said his position on rural Ireland is probably no different to that of his fellow politicians sitting pretty up in the big shmoke – and it’s this…we simply don’t matter. I mean, if we did, why would they continue to constantly treat us as a minority? And now, given the silly suggestion made by the leader-of-the-pack of so-called environmental heroes, we run the risk of being further marginalised and stripped of our constitutional right to own our personal mode of transport in our own country!

  Look Eamon, I’m sure you and the rest of your colleagues in Dublin have heard time and time again about the struggle rural Ireland is facing in order to make ends meet. Our plight can’t have escaped you. However, instead of trying to endear yourself to us and help us make our lives better, it appears your attitude is to penalise us ‘hicks’ by limiting our resources and with it, our sense of self-respect. Indeed, if Eamon (and the rest of the heavy-hitters) ever visited a genuine sweat, toil and tears rural village, they’d see that for many, the business element is either dead or on the verge of breathing its last as the people struggle to keep local shops, pubs and petrol stations open. Now I hasten to add…Tulsk is a thriving little village, (thank God), open and ready for business, but sadly that can’t be said for a lot of our rural neighbours. 

  Indeed, if Eamon drives (or cycles) to some rural areas, (many are located outside of beautiful Roscommon), he’d soon see the majority are showcasing similar scars resulting from apathetic bureaucratic neglect! Service stations stand idle; their pumps, due to the rising cost of fuel, are no longer operating. Shop windows are boarded up and small schools are disappearing through lack of families. And why? Because Ireland’s economic growth is concentrated in Dublin, the city that houses the decision-makers, and what I like to sarcastically call, the ‘brunch-bunchers,’ i.e. the over-privileged prats who have it all!

  Look Eamon, while I pride myself in being an environmentally friendly citizen, nobody, not even my husband, is welcome to use my precious car. I mean, I’m okay with him using it, (and grudgingly hand over the keys), when he absolutely needs them, but when it comes to my private transportation, I’m just not a team player! Like the rest of my village neighbours, I work hard for an item which is, quite literally, costing me a fortune to run, but is essential to my very existence here in rural Ireland.

  Okay, I admit it, I chose to leave Dublin with its DART, its Luas, and its buses, etc., and relocate here to live in Roscommon. I chose to cut and run, leaving the bright lights, big city, high-paying jobs way of life, and nobody twisted my arm to do so, however, I never once thought I’d be penalised for it. Nor did I think my decision to enhance my life would mean I’d be living in a situation whereby the county I moved to would have its taxpayers’ and its voters’ money collected and dispersed for the betterment, not of themselves, but of some arrogant politicians and their favoured urban communities!

  For the record Eamon, I’ll never be giving up my car, nor will I be sharing it, and the day that I do is the day that my doctor needs to tag my toe and call the coroner, ‘cause I’m dead! Got it? Good!

 

Who were these impossible-to-place X Factor celebrities?

 

I have to say readers, despite the fact I wasn’t at all sold on the overall concept, and, through a lack of nothing better to do, last Saturday myself and himself tuned in to see episode one of the X Factor Celebrity series. I told you we don’t get out much!

  Mind you, the calibre of ‘celebrities’ was so questionable, and so deliciously absurd, I imagine, for the researchers, it  was really a case of scraping the bottom of the barrel to see who was available. Okay, I recognised Ricki Lake, Jenny Ryan, Martin Bashir and David Hasselhoff’s young one Hayley, and of course the man who seeks publicity like a black tar heroin drug addict seeks a fix…Ben Foden, but that was it! As for the other ‘performers’, I could only describe them as being a part of the wannabe celebrity underclass desperate to dominate our small screens.

  Yep, perhaps I’m getting old, but who the hell were those third-tier reality show stars, and that extremely impossible-to-place actor from Holby City who seemed to think winking and smirking were the perfect substitute for lack of stage presence? I mean, I actually watch Holby City and I still can’t place this man; that’s how characterless he is. Then there was former Glee actor Kevin McHale, a bloke I hadn’t heard of either; but wait, I suddenly got a nagging suspicion that  somehow, through the wine fog, I recognised him; but then I didn’t quite know why…so I googled him. Turns out talented Kev had played paraplegic guitarist and singer Artie in the musical drama. Aaah, there it is.

  Anyhow, as the winter nights are drawing in, and myself and himself love nothing better than sitting by the fire, takeaway on lap, glass of wine in hand (me), pint of non-alcoholic beer in meaty paw (himself), I can guarantee you I’ll be tuning in. And why? Well, these X Factor quasi-celebrities have now crept onto my Saturday night viewing radar; but not because I can listen to them ‘singing’, but because I can poke fun at their questionable plastic-surgery-nightmare-horror-stories, their spilling-their-guts-on-Instagram-dramas, and their unhinged-desperate-to-be-famous-and-clever-enough-to-act-stupid-to-achieve-notoriety claims to fame! Yep, I need to get a life!

 

 

 

 

Don’t blame it on Met Éireann, they’re forecasters, not fortune tellers!

 

 

 

I’m no tree-hugger, however I do my bit to try and live an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Indeed, I fully understand, and I worry quite a bit about the negative effects that extreme weather conditions are having on our planet. And, despite the fact some of our elected officials recklessly continue to deny climate change exists (I’m talking about you, Danny Healy-Rae), I for one will always place my trust in the experts, (I’m talking about the very capable Evelyn Cusack and the folk at Met Éireann).

  Therefore, last week, when the no-nonsense Ms. Cusack and her team flagged the extent of the potential threat posed by the incoming Hurricane Lorenzo, (downgraded to storm status when it reached our shores), I personally took notice and got into preparation mode. Yep, I stocked up on dog food and wine!

  Look, given last year’s (and previous years’) extreme weather patterns and events, (which tragically saw several people losing their lives), it was obvious that Hurricane/Storm Lorenzo was always going to pose a substantial threat to our country. To that end, in my opinion, the criticism levelled at Met Éireann in the aftermath was totally unfair and largely inexcusable! Yep, before the last drops of rain had dried up, the condemnation on social media had begun.

  Okay, I know many businesses who shut up shop now feel pretty annoyed and believe the scaremongering was a bit over the top. I also know that unfortunately there’s a financial impact attached to these decisions, but the thing is, nobody told anybody to close down for the duration of the storm. Met Éireann and the local authorities simply armed the public with the facts, and, as responsible citizens it was up to us to take that advice and either run with it or ignore it. In short, we were free to make our own informed decisions, to be big enough to take responsibility for them and to not go lambasting the experts when it all went pear-shaped.

  Indeed, an example of one amadán who chose to ignore the Irish Coast Guard’s message to ‘stay back, stay high, stay dry,’ meaning unless you’re a total imbecile (my words not the Coast Guards’), back off from coastal areas, was a certain kite-surfer. However, clearly this arrogant dope and his ‘I know best’ attitude, which culminated in a full-scale air and sea rescue to recover him, has a limited brain capacity. Therefore he should, in my opinion, be prosecuted for placing these heroes’ lives at risk and then slapped with a bill for the financial cost of his rescue and evacuation to hospital in what were gale-force nine conditions.

  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad this glutton for punishment was found safe and well, his only injury apparently being a broken leg, but his thoughtlessness placed his fellow human beings’ lives at risk – and that’s inexcusable in my book.

  Look folks, I don’t mean to rant. I’m just someone whom, when it comes to our weather, relies on the skill and proficiency of Met Éireann’s staff. And, even though they’ve got access to the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts, which is apparently ‘the best weather-modelling service in the world,’ last week’s event proved that when it comes to our weather, unpredictability is always to be expected with precaution being the catchword of the day. So, why not cut Evelyn and her colleagues a bit of slack, listen to their advice and, as is your prerogative, decide yourself whether or not you wish to adhere to it! But remember, if, after the event, your roof hasn’t blown off, or your trees haven’t fallen down flattening your car, don’t criticise those who tried to help, just take a deep breath and  be thankful!

The ghosts of relationships past!

 

Here’s a question for you readers…would you invite your ex or your partner’s ex to your wedding? I only ask because this week, it was reported that the UK’s Princess Beatrice has invited her fiancé Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi’s ex-girlfriend to their wedding! How very grown up of her.

  Now apparently, Bea’s hubby-to-be was engaged to this ex, (interesting), and, (even more interesting), they have a two-year-old son together. So I suppose in this type of situation the invite makes sense, especially if the couple want the child to be a part of their big day. You see, if you split up and share young children together, extending an invitation might be a good idea, because it can show the kiddies that, even though mammy/daddy have moved on from each other, they’re still united when it comes to their commitment to the family they created together.

  However, for those who have an ex or three floating around, (and let’s face it, you’ve split up with them for a reason, meaning they should be well gone, along with any fleeting flashback moments), with no kids attached, then you should cut them from your list. Why? Because your wedding day is not an opportunity to dress up and show your ex what he/she missed out on! And bear this in mind folks, if there’s a drop of alcohol taken, (and there will be), and he/she’s the teary-eyed drama queen who can’t cope with his/her former squeeze being betrothed to someone else, then it’s very likely that there will be trouble! Look, you’re no longer an item; you’re donezo…accept it, and, if you’re a reader who unexpectedly receives an invite to the one-who-got-away’s-wedding, my advice is to tick the ‘enthusiastically decline’ box and move on! He/she’s someone else’s problem now!

I’m free…kinda!

 

Finally…I’m free! (Kinda; I still have a slight limp and temporarily need one crutch). But, yippee; after nearly thirteen weeks incarcerated in a child’s fracture boot, (I’m only 5’ and my shoe size is a four, meaning the adult boot came over my knee), I’m now back to wearing a shoe on my left foot! Mind you, it’s a horrible, sensible, ‘healthy’ walking shoe, that, together with its partner, while intended to provide me with a bit of stability, is really only providing me with a severe pain in my pride!  

  Now okay, I know that ‘flats’ are currently enjoying their moment, with the fashion pendulum swinging towards ‘comfort’, so you could say I’m on trend. But seriously, as a short woman, being told I need to wear a shock-absorbing low, broad-based heel for the foreseeable future is proving to be sole-destroying (pun intended). I can tell you I feel more frumpy than fashionable. I cannot wait for the day when I slip into a pair of leg-elongating, place-my-ass-on-a-pedestal stilettoes, and I’ve no doubt that, with the help of Rachael, my fabulous physio in Castlerea, I’ll be cutting up that rug at the office Christmas party. (Apologies for mentioning the ‘C’ word).

 

Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

Do you avoid unruly kids and clueless parents on planes?

 

 

 

I used to think that unless my name was Miriam Aer Lingus, and my logo was spread across the carrier’s fleet of aircraft, I’d never be able to book an exclusive airline seat as far away from bold kids and their totally oblivious parents as was humanly possible! But, joy of joys, last week, Japan Airlines announced it had proudly launched a tool on their booking site showing a seat map pinpointing where all the babies/toddlers/families were sitting – so other travellers can choose whether or not they wish to be near them! Yeeesss! Oh please, please let Aer Lingus, (the only carrier I’ll fly with, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the patient staff at East West Travel, who’ll confirm that), follow suit!

  Now before you get annoyed, let me assure you that I’m not entirely intolerant of kids on planes. Most kids are well behaved, and it’s often their parents who could benefit from being disciplined! The last time I went on holiday I had to endure a four-hour flight with, (and I’m being very diplomatic here), a disruptive four-year-old who thought kicking the back of my chair and pulling my hair was all part of the inflight entertainment package!

  And yes, I did ask the unruly little monster to stop! I did demand that his parents take control of him. However, popping a sleeping pill, mammy made it clear she was relinquishing the care of her child to a plane-load of passengers, viewing us as her personal babysitters, leaving me with no option but to shoot dagger stares at the dad. Mind you, given the kid ignored daddy’s meek little pleas, unbuckled his seat belt, banged his food tray up and down and ran screaming through the plane while mammy snored blissfully, it was clear the flight wasn’t going to go well.

  And, when the kid’s response to daddy (whose attempt at parenting was to clear his throat, twitch nervously and beg his son to “be a good boy”) was to tell his father to “shut up, stupid,” I knew no amount of complimentary prosecco was going to cut it! Therefore, much to my own hubby’s mortification, I stood up, glared at the father and loudly informed him the jellyfish I once nearly stepped on at Dollymount Strand possessed a stronger spine than he did! Yep, poor hubby nearly choked on his coffee, but the rest of the flight applauded, and mammy snored like a chainsaw!

  Now I know that families are entitled to travel with their children – of course they are. And sure wasn’t I once a parent of small children myself? However, I never took them on a flight until they were over five years’ old and could behave in an appropriate manner. And I’m not saying I want a library-silent, no-whinging flight, folks – nay, that’s totally unfair on little travellers, but I do expect to sit on a flight without being assaulted and battered by a four-year-old accompanied by a clueless mother and a cowardly father.

  Of course folks, I do realise there are some children who may misbehave due to no fault of their own, whether this is a physical or an emotional issue, and in this instance I’m actually the first to step up and offer the parents my assistance and my full support! Indeed, I understand that the interior and the confines of an aircraft can prove to be an unnatural and scary environment for many kids, especially when the change in air pressure can be painful on their ears. And to this end, crying and fidgeting are to be fully expected; however, bear in mind that a decent and caring parent will know what to do in order to comfort their child. They will not, as the kid on my flight’s parents did, consume alcohol and a sleeping pill and renounce all responsibility of the child to a cranky aul biddy like me, (mammy). Nor will they be terrified of their kids, allowing the little tearaways dictate the state of play, and assault a fellow passenger, pulling lumps out of their hair as a form of personal entertainment, (daddy).

Well done Ballintubber, you did Roscommon proud

Is your teenager boldly going nowhere? Not to worry; send them down the country to ‘Brat Camp’ – that’ll sort them out. Yep, I’m talking about RTE’s ‘Raised by the Village,’ the patronising TV programme that, in my opinion, permits producers to deceptively give viewers the impression that most Dublin teens are on the road to wreck and ruin! They’re not! Okay, I’ve said my piece. 

  And, even though I’m unhappy with the overall hypothesis of placing a focus on ‘troubled Dublin’ teens, I’ll admit that the way in which Warren from Lucan and Jordan from Darndale were welcomed and mentored by the lovely Garvey and Carley families from Ballintubber gladdened my heart. I’m proud to be their neighbours!

  Both of these families were the real deal; nurturing, loving, honest, hard-working folk, and I can see why they were chosen as mentors. And weren’t their kiddies delightful!

  In fact, I cried when Warren, who I’m sure really is an engaging young man, (once he has been given some direction and responsibility), enjoyed his time with the Garveys so much, he wanted to stay! Bless him. And by the way, how stunning is Mrs. Garvey; was that woman a supermodel in a former life?

  And, when it came to Jordan’s fabulous talons, addiction to fashion and severe allergy to getting out of the leaba, I was sure the Carleys would have their work cut out for them. I mean, given the attitude, it was safe to assume Jordan’s possibly a long-lost relative of the over-indulged Kardashian clan! But no…John and Caitriona lovingly stage-managed madam’s ‘won’t do’ attitude beautifully. And by the way, how friendly are the folk in Kenny’s shop? What a lovely place to work! Any jobs going? Mind you, I’d struggle with the till!

  Indeed readers, having allegedly been subjected to a diet of fast food, questionable designer clobber, acrylic nails, iPhones and er, bare-faced cheek, the teens were, under the guidance of the genuinely decent people of Ballintubber, fully deprogrammed. And, at the end of the show, viewers got a sense that, having tasted a slice of country life, the pair now have the potential to turn into decent Dubliners.  I admire everyone in the village of Ballintubber for playing their part in these teenagers’ lives, and I could visibly see the transformation taking place. Oh, I have to mention the delightful Roscommon Mart auctioneer Hugh Mulvihill, whose kind gesture of sharing his commission with Warren was, for me, the highlight of the entire episode – for the simple reason that one act served to give that kid a sense of worth and a sense of pride. Comhghairdeas Hugh; you’re a diamond!

 

 

Is gender neutral parenting a novelty fad?

 

 

 

 

As a parent, I have to say that while I’m extremely tolerant and understanding of the overall concept, I think insisting on raising a child gender neutral without giving that child a choice is a bit over the top. There, I’ve said it. Now I apologise if I’ve upset any of my lovely readers who may, (like UK parents Jake England-Johns and Hobbit Humphrey), have decided to keep their kids’ genders a secret in order to protect them from “the gender bias that society places on children”.  

  Look, I salute these parents, and fully respect their right to raise their children in this way, but…have they taken society’s gender bias issues a bit too far? I only ask because I’m personally at odds with the whole coercive parenting trend, and I do wonder if this couple and those of their ilk are simply buying into some fashionable fad. If this is the case, isn’t it possible that this brand of parenting may create a heap of awkward predicaments and confusion for their child(ren) down the line?

  To be honest, when my girls were small, I suppose I took a pragmatic approach to parenting by eliminating the stereotypical gender-specific items. That’s to say, when it came to toys, I was just as happy buying them so-called male-associated train sets or trucks and dressing them in blue dungarees and shirts, as I was buying them Barbie dolls and prams and slipping them into pink princess dresses. Like most parents, I encouraged my girls to play football and enrolled them in the local GAA team just as quickly as I enrolled them in ballet and drama classes. And, had I given birth to two boys, I’d have done the same with them. Yes, if any son of mine wanted to play with a doll I’d have bought him one – and God help anyone who sneered or made a negative comment. 

  However, unlike the England-Johns-Humphrey family, I would never have denied my kids the right to know or to embrace their specific genders, because to my way of thinking, a person’s gender is defined by the assignment of their sex organs. It is the state of being either a male or a female.

  But I also understand and fully accept that for many, gender is not a case of simple biology. Therefore, thankfully, due to changes in society’s shifts and mindsets, those who have been living in turmoil and are at odds with their gender and who wish to choose it for themselves can now do so without fear of isolation or exclusion.

  In fact, if my granddaughter came to me tomorrow and said I want to identify as gender neutral nana, I’d be delighted for her. I’d hug her, tell her how much I adore and love her and congratulate her on making her decision. I’d encourage and support her to explore her choices without fear of restrictions. And you know why, readers? Because it would be her decision, not her mother’s, and not anybody else’s…hers and hers alone. She’s 12 years’ old, she’s well into puberty, and because we’re an all-inclusive, compassionate family, she knows the full facts of life, (not the ‘babies are a gift from the stork’ Disney version). And I’d feel that we, as her supportive family, had done a good job of raising an independent child who can and who does, (because she’s allowed to), make her own choices.

  I’m enormously respectful and I fully embrace gender neutrality, and gender non-conforming. I see it as a person’s right to choose. What I don’t embrace, and what I will never support, is a parent(s) who believes it’s their right to coercively raise a child as if he/she were some form of experimental clone used to stick their own two fingers up to society. No parent, and I don’t care how fashionable they think they are, has a right to refer to their child, (who is a human being), by the pronouns ‘they’, ‘them’, or in some instances as an ‘it’, as is now trendy.

  In fact, I found it very difficult to roll my eyes back into the forward position and keep my big mouth shut when I overheard a woman in my daughter’s salon say she was expecting a ‘theybie’. Yes, apparently that’s a label some supercool parents are placing on their unborn/new-born, clearly forgetting that there’s an innocent little individual human at the centre of their pregnancy…a beautiful  individual whose mental wellbeing, and whose physical and emotional needs must, whether they decide to  identify as male, female or as gender neutral, be treated as a priority and not as some chic novelty fad.

 

On yer bike…and support Western Alzheimer’s Roscommon!

 

When a family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, their condition can have a major impact not just on the patient themselves but on their entire family, causing emotional and financial stress, as well as care issues, to name but a few. Indeed, as a dementia diagnosis can be both devastating and heartbreaking, having someone who can provide our families with sensitive and social support as well as being able to offer assistance regarding the range of services available within our communities is vital.

  With that in mind readers, I’d like to ask any bikers among you if you’d be so kind as to support a local Motorcycle Run taking place on behalf on the Western Alzheimer’s Society’s Roscommon voluntary committee organised by the lovely, caring Roscommon bikers. Now, despite the fact I’m considered a woman who never misses an opportunity to get her leg over, (my bike…calm down), I’m annoyed that on this occasion, due to being incapacitated in a surgical boot, I’m unable to take part! 

  However, for those of you who are available, the charity run leaves Hannon’s Hotel on the Athlone Road this Sunday (29th) at 11 am sharp. Registration starts at 10 am; it’ll be €20 per bike, and your route will take you through the lovely counties of Roscommon, Mayo, Galway and back home to Roscommon.

  All funds raised are in aid of the wonderful angels who are part of the Western Alzheimer’s Roscommon Voluntary Committee, with organisers assuring me that “everyone will be fed!” 

 

What does our version of ‘Sarah’s Law’ mean?

 

 

 

According to a report in the Irish Mirror, there are over forty convicted sex offenders living in this country who are at either a ‘high risk’ or are at a ‘very high risk’ of reoffending. Now, armed with this information, I for one am relieved to hear that, under new laws, Gardai will be allowed to make disclosures with regard to these perverts’ whereabouts, but only in the interest of public safety. As part of this new strategy, the sex offenders will also be electronically tagged.

  It is my understanding that, in the interest of averting risk, this pertinent information will only be given to a select number of ‘necessary’ individuals/organisations, and it will be done so on a confidential basis. This means, I would imagine, that the likes of local schools and other mandatory bodies will be on that ‘necessary’ list of need-to-knows for the specific purpose of keeping in line with their child protection and risk management strategies. Therefore, in the event some perverted sexual deviant who poses a clear and present danger to our own children and our vulnerable relatives/friends moves in next door or within our communities, we will remain ignorant. That is to say, nobody, as in the authorities, will be distributing leaflets through doors, nor will names and addresses be read out at Mass and nobody will be taking out an advertisement in the local paper, etc. The reason is well, (and I imagine right-thinking people will see where I’m going with this), former offenders who have served their time have a right to go about their lives free from persecution, etc. Indeed, there is an understandably strong support for the whole rehabilitative ideal, with many believing that recidivism rates among sex offenders runs quite low in this country.

  I guess it all depends on what guides and what influences your own personal beliefs, and I am not in any shape or form offering my opinion either way. Wouldn’t dream of it, in this instance. I am simply just stating the facts and providing my readers with information I believe to be of interest to them.

  However, here’s the thing…the law will provide disclosure to any member of the public who actively goes searching for it. Got it? The Gardaí will have to give you the information if you go asking for it in person! I’m sure many of you will have heard of ‘Sarah’s Law’. For those who haven’t, it’s the child sex offender disclosure scheme operating in England and Wales, providing for any member of the public to ask the cops if someone with access to their child/a child has a record for child sexual offences. Well, we will simply have an adapted model of this law here in Ireland. This piece of legislation will amend the Sex Offenders Act 2001, and it will include other legal changes that’ll make it necessary for predatory paedophiles/sex criminals to inform Gardaí of their addresses within three days of their release from custody, as opposed to the seven-day period currently in operation. In addition, if said pervert goes AWOL, authorities can release names, addresses, descriptions and photographs into the public domain.

  Look, it’s human nature for every single one of us to worry if/when/should a convicted sex offender move into our neighbourhoods and our communities. Indeed, we absolutely have a right to know who is living next door and who is out on the road when our precious children or vulnerable relatives are within easy access. However, in the interest of being a law-abiding citizen, I feel it necessary for me to mention that we should all be cautious of engaging in any labelling, stigmatising and/or scaremongering campaigns, and I’d advise readers, if they have concerns, to please refrain from giving oxygen to rumour or speculation, but rather that they would immediately speak with their local Garda Station and take their cues/advice from them.

 

A double for the Dubs… I’m so proud!

 

Well we sealed the deal, did the double and made history! Yep, I’m talking about Dublin’s two All-Ireland wins…both occurring on the same weekend.

            You probably all know by now that I’m a proud Dub, and while I really don’t wish to gloat, I think I will…just a small bit, because I do think, along with my fellow Dubs living in this beautiful county, that we’ve earned it! And, while we all enjoy and revel in our moment, I’d like to acknowledge all of you thoughtful Roscommon natives who wished me well and who wished the Dublin teams well, and who genuinely delighted in our wins. You’re all legends, and your goodwill showcases the true sporting and generous spirit that I’ve always found to be evident in this county and in its people. Okay, there were a few begrudgers, but their comments fell on deaf ears and I paid them no heed.

  Mind you, I’m raging I couldn’t watch my native county make history in person. I’m hopping, (literally), that I wasn’t in the thick of it, screaming from the Hill in Croker, and instead, due to still being held captive by this surgical boot and crutches – eleven weeks and counting – I had to be content with chewing my nails up to my elbows in front of d’telly! Never mind, I’ll be there next year please God, in all my glory alongside my granddaughter when the lads go for the six-in-a-row and the ladies go for the four-in-a-row!

 

Is Leo firing surface to airwaves missiles again?

 

Well it looks like we’ll be going to the polls in May, folks. And sure isn’t it great that Leo believes he’s so privileged he can actually choose the date for the next general election. Now there’s self-belief for you, readers.

  Indeed, last week, firing a surface to airwave missile, during an interview, Mr. Smug declared: “I believe we can win that election. In fact, I am sure of it even though it may not become apparent until the last week or ten days of the election campaign”. That so, love? Fair play to you. However, (and I hate to poke holes in your little ego bucket), before the campaign poster photo-shopping commences, can I suggest you sort out a few major issues like the National Broadband debacle, the cervical smear scandal, the homeless crisis, and the overspend on the Children’s Hospital, to name but a few!

 

 

 

 

Stop being school-flakes – and follow uniform rules!

 

 

A school in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in the UK made headlines last week for allegedly removing over one hundred students from class (on their first day) for apparently turning up to school wearing footwear that was considered to be ‘unacceptable,’ thus breaching the school’s uniform rules. Now, while many parents were angered by this – in fact, if you were to read some of the social media posts, I’d go so far as to say some went ballistic – in this instance, I’d say,  they’ve only got themselves to blame.

  If these parents had bothered to read the school’s guidelines, which, according to the principal, were ‘announced before the summer break,’ they’d have known what was, and what wasn’t acceptable for this particular school. In addition, in an attempt to make their new uniform policies crystal clear, the school in question even provided visual prompts for those parents who were either too dim to get the message or were so smug they thought the rules didn’t apply to their little darlings! Yes folks; pictures of acceptable footwear was apparently posted on the school’s website. So, armed with all of this information, I’d conclude that, in this instance, the school’s actions were entirely justified.

  Look, one of the reasons I’d imagine school uniforms are worn by students is to reduce what may be the obvious socioeconomic disparities existing among them in the hope of encouraging a level playing field for everyone. You see readers, as we live in an era of high fashion brands where certain items of clothing have become a definitive status symbol – separating the haves and the have nots among us – no parent wants their child to feel ‘different’. And, while it’s awful to think that some kids may use another’s choice of clothing as a reason to pick on them or to isolate them, I’d support the wearing of a uniform as it allows less opportunity for some to be singled out by their less compassionate  peers.

  Look, my granddaughter started secondary school last week and, while the list of dos and don’ts regarding her uniform and her PE gear were longer than Greece’s national anthem…(it has 158 verses…swear to God), both herself and her mother have chosen this school and they have to comply. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support the thinking that everyone, (and in this case students) should be allowed to express their own individuality, and I’m not opposed to that. Indeed I love the whole gender neutral uniform policy being adopted by many schools where they offer students a range of options; but again, parents need to adhere to these. Now I’m not skirting the issue (sorry, that was a terrible pun), but I believe if parents enrol their kids in a particular school, they do so in the knowledge that  they sign up to, and fully embrace that school’s rules and  mandatory uniform policies, whatever they are. Simples!

  However, if a parent is strongly opposed to uniforms, believing they restrict their little darling’s freedoms of expression, then that’s fine, and, in order to keep everyone happy, they should seek out a school more appropriate to their kids’ specific needs. Here’s the thing…our kids go to school to learn, and to gain what we hope will be valuable skills and knowledge they can confidently apply to their future real-life situations and careers. And, while school should be a place where students can freely express themselves, the fact is, in order to keep in line with the establishment’s ethos, some limitations will apply. Now, while I know some schools’ uniform policies may cause severe stress on a family’s budget, often sending many into debt, (especially if they insist on including specialist items), I’d strongly advocate for a system that prioritises a value-for-money and affordability ethos over specific bespoke elitist attire.

  At the end of the day, if your child joins An Garda Síochána, becomes a firefighter, a pilot, a flight attendant, a doctor, a nurse, a soldier, a chef, a delivery driver, a fast food operative, or a lifeguard, etc., (all great careers), they’ll be required to wear a uniform. With that in mind, school-flake parents, stop getting shirty (aagh, I did it again), and remember, you chose this school because you believed it was the best one for your kid!

Nobody does drama, difficulty and disaster like Sinead O’Connor

 

RTE Director General Dee Forbes should really be a travel agent for guilt trips, given the woman’s tenacity and capacity for rattling that begging bowl! Yes readers, according to the Irish Times, poor put-upon Dee has informed her staff that they must now face cutbacks as the station cannot afford to “continue as we are,” if they don’t receive an increase in funding. And about time too!

   Look, to be honest, as a reluctant licence fee payer, it has always been my belief that RTE, with its humdrum shows being fronted by tedious presenters trying to sell washed-up lacklustre guests as TV gold, has long since passed its sell-by date. I mean, excitement must surely be thin on the ground at Montrose House if someone thinks teasing has-been Sinead O’Connor as a reason to tune into last Friday’s Late Late Show is what passes for titillation. I’d rather read Donald Trump’s Twitter updates than tune into a show featuring a drama queen who appears to feel duty-bound to create controversy, viewing just about everything as an ultimate disaster.

  Don’t get me wrong, I do feel a certain amount of empathy for Sinead’s, let’s say, circumstances, but, is it so awful of me to be sick to the back teeth of her continuous angst-ridden sagas? It’s as if adversity, calamity and tragedy have now become as natural to her as breathing. Yes, the woman is a talented singer, yes, she’s clearly a troubled soul and I have huge compassion for her, I really do…but OMG Sinead love, do drama, difficulty and distress absolutely have to be your weapons of choice when appearing on d’telly?

 

 

Roscommon school embracing and creating all-inclusive education!

 

 

I’ve always been a supporter of creating an inclusive learning environment in our education system. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that a local primary school, formerly named St. John’s National School in Lecarrow, is now open under the patronage of the Galway and Roscommon Education Training Board (GRETB) and operating under a new multi-denominational ethos!

  So this week, I’d like to say a big well done to all involved in the creation of Lecarrow Community National School for being forward-thinking, progressive individuals who have at last recognised that, in order to keep our beautiful rural schools viable, a move of this nature was necessary. I consider it to be a positive move…a wonderful opportunity for kids to become involved in an all-inclusive practice delivered by teachers whose skills, knowledge, understandings, attitudes  and resources will be employed in an education strategy that’s now gaining popularity right across the country. 

  Indeed, (and I say this with a sense of pride to those who slag off rural Ireland as being ‘backward’), isn’t it great that our forward-thinking county of Roscommon is not playing catch-up, rather we’re leading the way! Yep, Roscommon schools, and namely Lecarrow Community National School, its principal, its teachers and its students and parents are setting the standard of learning through change and transformation.

  Now I do know that part of this change of attitude is down to the fact this school is very small and a major drive was needed in order to attract new students to keep it open and ensure its continued survival; but that’s not the point! It’s all good. And what’s important here is that nobody’s kid is in any danger of having their personal religious beliefs (whatever they are), hijacked or negatively affected; so calm down. As it happens, if your child is being raised in the Catholic faith, preparation for sacraments such as First Holy Communion and Confirmation will still be implemented, but these will occur outside of the normal school hours; meaning nobody misses out.

  Look readers, we’ve known for a long time that Ireland has been bearing witness to a change in its education landscape. However, did any of us realise the roots of this reform would begin right here in our trailblazing county where liberal-minded parents and educators no longer wish for their children to be under the control of the Catholic Church? Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I was convent-educated and I’m Catholic, although non-practising in that I don’t feel the need to go to Mass. And, due to lack of choice in our schools, I raised my kids in the Catholic faith, and they received the relevant sacraments,  so please don’t think I’m disrespecting the Church; I’m not! And please, no letters to our editor, he’s a busy man. It’s just that I believe an education structure that sees over ninety per cent of our primary schools being under (what has been) the controlling thumb of the Catholic Church has got to be at odds with today’s societal shifts and trends. 

  In addition, I feel cheated that, as a parent, this non-denominational education choice was not available to my family when my girls were of school-going age. To that end, I’m really pleased and proud that a small local rural school in this county is embracing and creating a safe and supportive, all-inclusive environment by planning to deliver what I believe will be an equitable learning policy for all of its students!

  To the rest of the country I say…if you want to witness modern Ireland in action and experience opportunity and choice…come along to Roscommon, sure haven’t we got it all! Comhghairdeas to all involved in Lecarrow Community National School; by embracing change, your strong vision and commitment to forward thinking will ensure every student who passes through your doors will receive the excellent standard of education they deserve.

Childminders to face new legal requirements

I’ve always had a healthy respect for anyone who minds kids for a living for the simple reason it’s a tough job, riddled with all sorts of challenges and responsibilities. It’s also a job that, up until now, did not require the care provider to be registered with Tusla or undergo Garda vetting. However, in order to bring childminders in line with the National Childcare Scheme, due to come into effect next month, the new legislation proposes to address those childminders who’re self-employed and working from their own homes. Indeed, as I understand, (I could be wrong), but apparently these new regulations will not extend to childminders who work in the child’s own home because they’re regarded as being employees. Neither do these regulations apply to childminders who’re related to the kids they’re minding, i.e. grandparents, etc.

  Now, as it’s estimated there are up to nineteen thousand childminders operating across Ireland, this new approach will require them to become garda vetted, be proficient in first aid and undergo training in order to be in receipt of a ‘bespoke’ qualification, the finer points of which have not yet been determined. They’ll also be obliged to have their homes (the premises where they mind the child) inspected in order to make certain they comply with basic standards. Those who do not comply with these new regulations could face prosecution!

  Now I’ve never been a childminder, nor do I plan to be, it’s just not a job I’m cut out to do. Look, I’ll happily mind your pets, but not your kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I view those who mind young kids as being hardworking angels; but me, I just don’t have the patience needed for such a demanding job. However, I do believe in light of the recent crèche improprieties involving some childcare facilities, (not all; I’ll remind readers that there are many fantastic childcare providers in this county), this move is vital in that it offers parents a level of reassurance and children a better and necessary level of  protection.  

  Also, in view of the fact that currently out of the nineteen thousand childminders operating across Ireland, worryingly, it appears only eighty one of them are registered with Tusla. Therefore, as an incentive for parents in the market to engage the services of a childminder, the government will roll  out an allowance of up to €900 a month for those who use a registered, trained and vetted one.

 

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