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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

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.

 

Why clicking won’t create a connection with your child

 

 

 

Last week, a controversial Channel 4 programme not only generated uproar among certain childcare bodies, it also caused righteous indignation throughout the judgemental moral policing brigade. Indeed, there was even the good old, fail safe, online petition being widely shared on Facebook etc., (ignored by me, but signed by over 30,000), hoping to prevent a TV show called ‘How To Train Your Baby Like A Dog’ from airing.

  Now for those who’ve been living on the moon and missed the whole hoopla, the show featured dog trainer Jo-Rosie Haffenden teaching parents to use a clicker and treat method, which is usually used to train dogs, to keep their unruly kids in line. Now, as a former TV producer/script writer, I have to say, congrats to Channel 4; this was TV gold. It contained all the ingredients needed to generate publicity and copious column inches. 

  However, as someone who has raised two kids (and two husbands) into adulthood, adopted seven dogs, and fostered quite a few, and, as I was head of education at the Dublin SPCA for many years, you can imagine I was glued to this programme. And, while I understand this dog trainer’s reasoning, especially when dealing with a three-year-old who, let’s face it, had pretty ugly and violent outbursts and the 18-month-old who refused to sleep alone; I feel her so-called motivational approach to childcare is a cop-out technique for lazy parents. Why? Because it allows them to dodge their responsibilities.

  You see, I’m someone who has trained dogs…yet I never used a clicker. I used the positive reinforcement method of offering my fur babies a small treat immediately after they performed my desired action…sit, stay, bed, etc., however, (when dealing with humans) I’d be highly sceptical of Haffenden’s strategy. 

  Look, don’t get me wrong, I know these methods work perfectly well with dogs because timing is of the essence when dealing with canine family members who have, quite literally, less than a second to associate their behaviour with receiving their reward. This means, if you, the pet parent, don’t come across pretty quickly with that delicious delicacy, your dog will move onto something else and will then associate their next behaviour with receiving the goodies…get it?

  However, kids, (as any parent with half a brain will tell you), can act up due to being tired, being hungry, being anxious, or by feeling ill etc., meaning a biccie’s not gonna cut it.

  And yes, it’s true, sometimes the little rug-rats are just plain bold, but the fact is, they depend on us, as responsible caregivers who are, (we hope), emotionally mature enough to shape them into responsible, independent thinking adults. This practice, (and I’m no parenting coach), is something which I believe will only be achieved by reasoning and conversation, and not by making clicking noises and shoving a fun size Snickers down their necks several times a day!

  Kids, in my thinking, need a natural outcome to their behaviours, be they good or bad; and while dogs thrive on positive reinforcement, young kids, who have high impulsivity and little self-control, will thrive on being allowed to make a choice. More importantly, they’ll flourish by being encouraged, (by you), to work out if that particular choice/behaviour they made was in their own personal interest.

  In addition, (and I hate to laud the qualification bit, but, like Haffenden, I’ve also studied psychology, so I’m just highlighting the similarities between our backgrounds), and I believe her parenting methods are in danger of creating a hierarchy of good and bad food; as in chocolate good…carrots bad. Ok, I concede, that yes, treats may provide temporary control over kids, but I fear they could, in the long run, sadly trigger a future resistance in them to take responsibility for their personal actions.

  My advice? When it comes to training your fur babies, concentrate on getting them to do what you want them to do, as opposed to what you don’t want them to do; they’ll thrive on it. When it comes to the kiddies, connect before your correct, because if they learn to always sit and obey you, they’ll likely become submissive adults and pathetic people pleasers unable to think or reason for themselves, and no parent wants that for their child.

 

Is Garda revamp the future of positive policing?

 

An Garda Síochána is set for a major revamp and, as speculation arises as to whether this restructuring will prove to be good or bad for the future of community policing, you’ll have to pardon me for stating the obvious when I say that only time will tell.

  However, as this new policing model will see a series of localised mini police forces cutting the districts down from 28 to 19, and having regional headquarters, á la the proposed new HSE structures, I for one am viewing this as a positive move. 

  You see, so long as the overhaul doesn’t mean job losses, the whole idea of Ireland, especially rural Ireland, having more community focused Gardaí is, as far as I’m concerned, very positive. Indeed, our very own community guard, (I won’t name him in case I embarrass him), is absolutely first class. He’s linked in with everyone on his beat, he waves to us as he drives by, chats with us if we meet him in the street, and he knows everyone and everyone knows him. Due to this visibility and his friendly manner, we all know our community guard is not only accessible, he is highly relatable, making him, in my opinion, the perfect example of what this county needs; and well done to him…he knows who he is!

 

Hold your nerve Ireland!

According to champion fist bumper Boris Johnson, the odds in favour of striking a deal with regard to the backstop are ‘touch and go,’ meaning he’s still hopeful. How pathetic!

  To this end, I want to be reassured that Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have put in place the necessary intervention strategies needed to make sure we’re properly prepared for Brexit and the political instability that’ll derive from it. I also want to be reassured our government won’t fall for BJ’s slapstick bish, bash, boom, high octane, high energy spin.

  You see, from watching the whole pomp and bluster showcased during his recent whistle-stop EU tour, I’d have to comment that Boris sounded more like a football manager than a credible head of state and I’m now wondering just how disjointed his thinking is. I mean, is Boris so obtuse he’s prepared to play political chicken with his country’s future? Is British politics and British society so fragmented they’ve allowed their leader to convince them they can still get a deal through at this late stage?  

  My advice to Leo and Simon…don’t cave…hold your nerve, and wipe that grin of Boris’ face. You wait, he’ll break; he’s got to!

 

Is Rose Bud Roisín Roscommon’s future super-vet?

 

 

The 60th International Rose of Tralee festival takes place this Friday, and, while regular readers know, while I’m not a big fan of this frocky-horror-show, the thing is, when it comes to the viewing public, it appears to be somewhat of a ratings’ winner, meaning somebody must be enjoying it. So, g’wan the girlies!

  However, this year viewers from our lovely county of Roscommon are being provided with an added bonus regarding this wholesome celebration of ‘Oirish’ womanhood. Let me explain. Taking part as one of the thirty-two Rose Buds, (little ladies aged between six and ten years), is our very own little flower, Ms Roisín O’Reilly, age nine-and-a-half…with the half being very important!

  In a nutshell, Roisín, who hails from Kilbride, was chosen from hundreds of applications made by parents of children from all over Ireland and abroad; with a portion of their entry fee going to charity. Twenty-four successful applicants come from Kerry with the final eight little ladies’ spaces being allocated to other areas. However, while I wish Roisín well; and know she’ll do Roscommon proud as she accompanies the Kerry Rose over what will be four days of fun activities, I have to confess, her involvement in this event is not the main reason this child has come to my attention. Nope, rather it’s her humane and compassionate nature when it comes to animals.

  You see, in a week where we were inundated with sad news, and stories of heartbreak, tragedy and alleged thuggery, (appearing to involve Conor McGregor), I was reassured to have happened across a happy story of hope. A story involving young Roisín, a child who is, in my opinion, set to make a real difference in her community. To put it simply, when this local child is not preparing for her very important international Rose Bud festival duties, she is, even though she may not realise it, inspiring others by working hard to save animals’ lives.

  Now you all know I’m passionate about animals. Indeed, I’m not even going to pretend to be ashamed of the fact I love my dogs as much as I love my family. It’s no secret that in my world, and in my home, my four legged fur babies are my canine kids, and my two-legged human ones are fine with that. Well, they kinda have no choice!

  However, in showing my dogs, (and all animals), the love and respect they deserve, I hope I’ve managed to provide my girls, including my granddaughter, with a valuable example of responsible and humane animal welfare. I’ll go so far as to say this pattern has provided them with a merciful, empathetic characteristic, which I hope was imperative when it came to shaping them into compassionate adults. It was precisely this type of gentleness and consideration that brought young Roisín and her lovely mam Kathy to my attention.

  Indeed, from chatting with the pair I’ve got no doubt that mam, along with Roisín’s dad Noel, are raising a caring, selfless child; attributes which are clearly essential to their happy family life. Therefore, when I heard from T.N.R. South Roscommon how Roisín, who is “big into animals, especially cats,” donates her toys and her clothes as well as any unwanted gifts she may receive to this wonderful local charity to sell online and at car boot sales, I was hugely impressed. I knew immediately that not only does this child want to promote a better world for both humans and animals, she also has the confidence to do it; and that, dear readers, is most definitely worth a mention.

  I know this county is bursting with inspirational kiddies, every one of whom is impressive in their own right, and I’m not discounting them. But I’m sure you’ll all wish Roisín well as she embarks on her Rose Bud role this weekend. I know she’ll miss her “great friends” Itchy and Scratchy, a pair of adorable four-year-old semi-ferals she adopted through the T.N.R. South Roscommon programme.

  In fact, in her quest to make their little lives better, Roisín who wants to work with animals when she gets older, fashioned a fairy fort at the bottom of her garden where she plays with her fabulous feline family. As someone who believes it’s never too early to think big, I feel that in Roisín, Roscommon could well have its very own future super-vet! Watch this space.

Is it clear Ireland’s (probably) got no talent?

Despite the fact they’ve broken up and reconciled nearly as often as Friends’ characters Ross and Rachel, it seems Mayo man Louis Walsh and Simon Cowell are (allegedly) set to reunite. According to (unconfirmed) reports, our lovely Louis has signed on the dotted line and will ‘take part in the X-Factor All-Star reboot and a celebrity version of the format’ later this year. Well I for one am delighted for Louis, he’s a gentleman and, whenever we worked together during our RTÉ days, or whenever we socialised, I have to tell you I enjoyed his company enormously.

  Look, to be honest, while I’m no fan of X Factor and would rather watch an entire series of Daniel and Majella’s B&B Road Trip in slow motion, I do believe Louis was wasted on home-grown series Ireland’s Got Talent and I’m not surprised it’s been (allegedly) scrapped by Virgin Media. I mean, let’s face it, given the calibre of contestants it was clear that Ireland (probably) didn’t have any real talent to showcase! 

  Indeed, for those of you who’ll now insist that you do actually possess a knack for entertaining audiences, my response is this…you clearly didn’t choose to flaunt it on that series now did you?

  And don’t get me started on the endless array of ‘dance troupe’ entries who seemed to churn out the same old boring routines that strangely matched their same old jaded stories about how they had no focus, and were lacking motivation and direction etc.

  But hey, when they discovered dancing, well, it miraculously saved their entire lives! Oh purleese! Then again, perhaps this is where I’m going wrong readers. Perhaps I should give up my job and instead do back flips, head spins, split leaps and scissor jumps on a TV ‘talent’ show where an audience, who really couldn’t care less about me, secretly harbour an urge to fling the remote control at the screen as I perform. Too harsh? My apologies.

My blended-family advice for Una Healy

 

 

The glitterati and the twitterati went into meltdown last week when former Saturdays’ singer and Tipperary native Una Healy’s ex Ben Foden  announced he’d married a woman he’d allegedly only been dating for two weeks. Foden and Healy were married for six years and have two children together, Aoife (7) and Tadhg (4). However, the pair split just over a year ago after he admitted cheating on her.

  Foden’s gushing ‘I’ve remarried’ announcement on Instagram generated plenty of comments, some coming from well-wishers congratulating the couple. Mind you, given the speed with which he has moved on, (i.e. before the ink had dried on his divorce papers), there has been an overwhelming feeling of surprise, and, despite the fact Foden claimed ex-wife Una had given him her blessing, understandably, a slew of scathing remarks peppered the post.

  To be honest, while I’d always wish a newly-married couple well, I do feel Foden’s line that his new wife, New Yorker Jackie Belanoff Smith, would be ‘a great step-mum to Aoife and Tadhg, and offers me a future I can’t wait to explore with her’, to be extremely crass and downright insulting to the mother of his children. But hey Una, if that’s his idea of showing you the respect you deserve, then you’re probably well rid, love!

  As someone who has been divorced, I can tell you that one of the hardest situations you will ever have to deal with is when your ex remarries; with feelings of loss and, perhaps depression taking hold as you may feel you’re being replaced. Now, granted, I’m the one who remarried. My ex is the one who had to deal with my new status of being someone else’s wife. However, he soon got over me, and is in a long-term relationship with a lovely woman, and we all get on really well together, regularly meeting up for family meals and events, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, we’re not the sickly sweet Brady Bunch (of TV renown) living a life of blended bliss, nay, we’re more like that crazy lot in TV sitcom Modern Family, i.e. having a laugh, having a drink, and being respectful of each other’s new relationships and set-ups.

  But back to Ben, Una and their kiddies. While Ben may be able to slot in Jackie as his new wife, hoping the business woman will seamlessly step into her designer stilettoes, the new Mrs. Foden will never, ever be a compensatory mother to his children…end of! Now, mind you, Jackie probably doesn’t want to even try and become a step-mother, and, let’s face it, no matter how nice she may be, I’d bet she knows only too well that she’s never, ever going to share the same bond with them as their biological mother…is she? Even though my husband has four grown-up children with his first wife, making me technically their step-mother, I’d never consider giving myself such a title. Why? Because they have their own lovely mother; the woman who raised them, and I’d never dream of insulting her standing; it’s discourteous. And sure, why would I? I have my own grown-up kids and my granddaughter. Besides, my ex’s fiancée wouldn’t dare entertain the notion that she’s their step-mother; a fact I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, because we, er, had a little chat, and, ahem, came to a mutual understanding…if you know what I mean. As in, you can have him, but don’t ever contemplate laying claim to my kids/grandkids. Point made, point taken, and an agreed civility was forged, with my territory being distinctly marked…and, so far, so good, we’re still friends. We all get on great, and, for now, we’re all living happily ever after. But my ex and I are lucky. When the divorce dust had settled, we realised that, for the sake of our children/grandchild and future grandchildren, (not to mention our sanity), we needed to turn rage and heartbreak into respect. The result being, the acrimonious and desperately painful demise of our marriage is now a healthy, friendly, civil relationship that allows us, our partners, and, most importantly, our children/grandchild to be part of a happy, functional and, what I’d gratefully call, a loving and extremely close-knit blended family.

  I wish Ben, Una, their kiddies and their new partners every future happiness possible.

 

New investment shows great faith in Roscommon’s potential

 

It’s always great to hear positive local news, and I was delighted to read about the fantastic investment confirming the multi-million euro sale of the Centre Point Retail Park in the county town, especially as it’s set to generate up to one hundred much-needed new jobs.

  So, to those who insist that rural Ireland is dead, I say you couldn’t be more wrong. You see, given this cash injection, it’s clear to me that the savvy ‘investors’ behind this wonderful new business project have enormous faith in the good people of Roscommon. This means, instead of viewing our rural communities, (and those like us), as being on our last legs, they have rightly identified the enormous opportunities and potential we have for growth, development and extensive progress; and fair play to them. Let me assure these investors that they couldn’t have chosen a better county in which to spend their millions. On behalf of everyone, I’d like, if I may, to express gratitude to  these business people for their faith and their trust in the wonderful citizens of this county who will, I’ve got absolutely no doubt, richly reward their expenditure and their innovation with the loyalty and the allegiance it richly deserves. I can tell them that, by making a commitment to our communities, they’ll not only be repaid by hard-working, dedicated locals who’ll excel in the newly-created jobs they’ll provide, they’ll also significantly contribute in order to ensure this new enterprise evolves into a sustainable business. Onwards and upwards readers!

 

Why Bigfoot look isn’t for me!

 

Well ladies, apparently, according to well-known model and activist Emily Ratajkowski, ‘it can be sexy not to shave’ your pits! Yep, in an effort to ‘empower’ women, Ratajkowski is seen posing in next month’s Harper’s Bazaar magazine donning a black bra and, er, armpits so hairy, at first glance I thought she had Chewbacca in a headlock!

  Look, I’m all for empowering women. However,  as someone who likes to shave my pits, and wax my bikini line, (because it’s what I do), I can assure you, I’ll never buy into the whole female-and-furry movement! This means, other than on my head, I will not be growing any manner of body hair to the extent I could put a bow in it. Now, I mean no disrespect to any woman who enjoys and embraces growing out their body hair, in fact I applaud them for doing it, if that’s their choice. However, for me, the whole Bigfoot look is highly unattractive. And no, it has nothing to do with me buying into the patriarchal standards being put upon women; rather it’s got everything to do with personal hygiene, my personal choice, my personal grooming and my personal refusal to allow myself kowtow to those suffocating messages being generated by a radical, heretical feminist movement.

 

 

 

How do we fix our childcare system?

 

 

 

Well folks, I hate to toot my own horn, but I think I called it correctly last week when I wrote that the country’s child protection watchdog was – and I said allegedly – unable to immediately close down high-risk childcare facilities, and this week they’ve come out and confirmed that very fact. Yes, following the fall-out of RTE’s documentary regarding the disquieting goings-on at the Hyde and Seek chain of crèches, not only has Tusla identified what it deems to be a string of ‘critical’ risk levels of non-compliances occurring in 37 crèches across the country, it has also confirmed its own toothless tiger status. In addition, the Child and Family Agency is refusing to provide concerned parents with information pertaining to the alleged offenders’ names and locations.

  However, in this instance, it’s not Tusla’s fault. It seems their hands are tied. While it has the power to deregister a childcare service, under the Child Care Act 1991, Tusla is only required to give the offender 21 days’ notice of deregistration and the right to appeal to the District Court. What this means is that when non-compliance is observed, (i.e. the unforgivable mistreatment of children as witnessed in RTE’s documentary), the agency merely has the ability to encourage improvement, as opposed to the legal statutory powers needed to enforce a closure. Wow, where’s the child protection policy there?

  So parents/grandparents/guardians, if you currently have a child or children attending a crèche/childcare facility, and you’re concerned about their welfare or indeed concerned if that facility is one of the ‘37’, here’s my advice. Sit down and write a list of those concerns; and, even if you have a good relationship with your crèche manager, insist, in a friendly manner, that he/she addresses your questions, one by one. Yes, it may be awkward, but you’re trusting this facility and paying good money for them to care for your precious child in a home-away-from home atmosphere, so, do what you know you have to do to ensure your child is safe. May I suggest you begin by asking the manager if they’ve undergone an inspection? If they have, ask them how they did. Ask to see written evidence of their results. In fact, if I managed a crèche, and it had undergone an inspection and passed, in light of recent happenings, I’d have my certificate framed inside the door for all to see. If your crèche discloses that they’ve unfortunately failed on certain issues, ask what they were, and ask when they expect to undergo their follow-up inspection. When it’s completed, ask to see the results. If they have undergone both inspections and yet still failed to comply with standards, for God’s sake, grab your child’s hand and take him/her home.

  Ring your boss, explain the urgency of the situation, and ask for a week’s leave while you arrange alternative, responsible childcare. Your boss will understand. It’s up to us as parents to place our children first, and I’m certain a grandparent, a kind neighbour, or another trustworthy adult will step up and provide you with either an emergency, or hopefully, a long-term solution.

  Again, I will add that there are fantastic childcare facilities across County Roscommon, and while this latest scandal is grossly unfair to them, I’m sure they will be delighted to address any parents’ concerns, (if they have them) regarding their professional practices. In the meantime, you could check Tusla’s Quality Regulatory Framework…for all the good that may do you. However, I understand Minister for Children Katherine Zappone is examining ways to increase Tusla’s powers where serious breaches of childcare regulations are identified. Let’s hope she does this without further delay.

 

Maybe Arlene needs to choose her side more carefully

 

As the Boris effect takes hold, a leaked UK government document is scaremongering us into thinking that a no-deal Brexit could ‘virtually stop’ cross-border agricultural trade in the North within 24 hours. Yes, quite literally overnight. And, following this, the advice from our fearless leader was that er, “We should be afraid of a no-deal Brexit”. Talk about stating the fizzin’ obvious Leo.

  Now, mind you, that Arlene Foster’s bold “dial down the rhetoric” response to our Leo wasn’t very helpful, was it? And it’s my opinion that she’d do well to wake up and share our concerns; as opposed to obtusely getting sucked into the whole Boris hype. So, with that in mind, perhaps Arlene should set aside a bit of time to consider her own party’s options and choose her side more carefully. You see Arlene, Leo is actually talking sense. Boris is merely spewing bluster. This means you’d do well to bear in mind that if farmers here are hit, it’s my view that those living North of the border, in your constituency, will likely suffer even greater losses.

  While Arlene is throwing around big words like ‘belligerent’ and ‘intolerant’ to describe our government’s reaction, let me throw one back at her…ignorance! She doesn’t seem to grasp that the reason we’re insisting on a ‘backstop or nothing’ is because it’s an insurance policy. Not just for us, but for the North too. And while Arlene actively searches for more colourful adjectives to hurl at us down here in the South, let me ask her this important question. Did it conveniently escape her notice that, as Boris visited the North for his little love-in last week, he managed to totally avoid speaking to the one group she’s apparently so concerned with, i.e. the farmers? Too busy fan-girling all over the Slum-Dodge Millionaire love?  

  But look…big picture, readers. I don’t think a crash-out is going to happen. In fact, I think old BJ will find himself facing a massive rebellion among the troops, resulting in his government collapsing, thus sparking a General Election. I mean, how can the Brits take him seriously? For God’s sake, this man’s first act as Prime Minister was to buy himself a £500 digital Brexit countdown clock to hang on the walls of his War Cabinet room! What does that tell you? It tells me that the individual the great British public has tasked with delivering Brexit is really nothing more than a stupid little boy with a novelty toy.

 

Thank you!

 

I’m sick to death of being incarcerated in a surgical boot large enough to sail down the River Shannon in! As someone who has no patience, I’d prefer to suffer acute pain and discomfort for a short period of time, as opposed to spending what I’ve been told may possibly be twelve weeks, strapped into this unsightly contraption, accessorised by a pair of clumpy crutches!

  However, as I struggle on, I’ve realised one thing, and it’s this…the people of Roscommon are genuinely decent, salt-of-the-earth folks. So, this week, can I say a massive thank you to everyone who has approached me offering their support, saying how they’d read about my tumble. Thank you to those who stopped what they were doing to open doors and carry coffee for me, etc. You’re all diamonds.

 

 

 

 

Why Boris’ battle to Brexit may prove to be his downfall

 

 

 

 

 

Well, if ever we had even a smidgen of a doubt that he was a contentious, conceited, bumptious, and, extremely divisive so-and-so, Boris’ choice of newly-appointed foot-soldiers can lay those uncertainties to rest. Yes readers, by putting together what could be considered as the most right-wing Eurosceptic cabinet in, well, possibly living history, it’s clear that Britain’s new ‘do or die’ PM’s approach to Brexit will not only prove to be erratic, it’ll also prove to be a highly toxic and damaging one. Why? Because Boris is acting like a spoiled brat who’s making unreasonable demands…that’s why! Because he’s a leader who seems to care nothing for his entire country as a whole, rather he intends only focusing on those who voted for his pathetic little pie-in-the-sky Brexit dream, meaning he’ll be a PM for a minority and everyone else can go to hell.

  Yes folks, as the power of the pound is plummeting, as the October deadline approaches, the Brexit Bulldog, who, bless him, sees himself as another Winston Churchill, is making it clear he plans to leave the EU cold turkey and anyone who doesn’t agree with him can go and stew! For those who think I’m being overly dramatic, let me tell you why I’m concerned.

  Last week, Boris’ message to the world was crystal clear; the gist being that he and his cabinet don’t care if his strategy means instability, massive job losses and food shortages, not just for us, but for everyone. Indeed, it’s probably fair to say that some observers on this side of the water could probably even worry that his bombastic rhetoric was clearly designed to instigate a direct threat to us. Well, if that’s the case, all I can say is this…be careful what you wish for Boris love. You see, if you crash out of the union without a deal, you’ll not only be damaging our economy, you’ll also be damaging your own nation’s and, for the record, we here on the island of Ireland are well prepared for your buffoonery…(we are…aren’t we Leo? Simon?). We won’t be rolling over for you, that’s for sure. Yeah, mess with us sunshine, and that romantic rollercoaster you’ve been riding to showcase your despotic personality traits is highly likely to become dramatically derailed. You might be box office gold now Boris, and you might want to take a flying jump off that cliff, but, be warned, you won’t be taking us with you. Remember this mate…you were not elected by the people of Britain, you were only elected by the Tories, and that, you vainglorious snob, will be your ultimate downfall. That explicit fact will make you the hilarious punchline to your own pathetic joke. Boris, your use of uncompromising language when discussing the UK’s exit from the EU, (which was, I assume, clearly designed to largely invite confrontation both from Ireland and the rest of Europe), will not only lead to dissension and discord among your fellow countrymen and women who voted to remain; it’ll also place your status as being the Prime Minister in a highly precarious position come election time. Now, I’m sorry, but that’s gotta stick in your craw love! That has to cause you sleepless nights. So, given the situation, let me put to you, that very same question you put to your minions last week…“Do you feel daunted?” Well, do you, Boris? And furthermore pal, here’s the sting in the tail for you…you’ll be run out of Downing Street quicker than that pair Kim and Aggie can remove that red wine stain from your girlfriend’s designer sofa!

 

 

Is controversy in our childcare sector tip of the iceberg?

 

Many years ago, around 2002, when I was an investigative reporter for the Evening Herald, I wrote an explosive exposé concerning a crèche whose childcare procedures had come to my attention. Each morning, as I drove by this service’s building and observed their ‘practices’ and, from chatting to some of its clients, I concluded I had enough cause for my suspicions to become aroused, and, ahem, set up a surveillance of sorts. What I discovered shocked me to the core. The crèche, (located on Dublin’s Northside), while on a group day trip to Bray, County Wicklow, accidentally ‘forgot’ one of their little charges, leaving him stranded alone and petrified on the beach! The little lad, who was 5 years old at the time, was lucky he came to the attention of a nearby grandmother who observed his distress and called local Gardaí.

  I also discovered the same crèche had, three weeks previously, managed to, ‘misplace,’ two siblings, (who were part of triplet brothers), when the pair got up from their ‘designated nap time’ and, unnoticed, exited through an open window, hazardously crossing a busy main road, before trotting off into their front garden. The toddlers were discovered sitting on their doorstep weeping hysterically many hours later by their horrified parents. The crèche was local to where I lived, and the owners were a husband and wife team. Sound familiar? Now, no names, no scandals, just relaying my story, and you may draw your own conclusions. 

  My explosive piece brought in the HSE, (this was before Tusla), and the Gardaí, because I reported it to both organisations; and the impact was such, the crèche was forced to close down, with the owners allegedly moving to new premises, setting up again under a different name. I became the focus of intimidation, not just from the crèche I’d exposed, but strangely, from some of the parents who accused me of closing down the only childcare facility they had in the area. Imagine? Of course I’m not easily intimidated. Many parents did knock on my door to thank me profusely for my exposé, including the dad of the little boy abandoned on Bray seafront.

  Look, my point is this; RTE’s documentary is not the first time we’ve heard about such horrors…and it won’t be the last. And I want to know…how is it that the Food Safety Authority of Ireland can hand out closure notices to establishments for poor food hygiene practices, yet Tusla, with all its power, allegedly can’t close down a crèche for sub-standard and, what I’d perceive to be, abusive childcare practices? Nope…makes no sense to me either. May I conclude that there are wonderfully caring and responsible crèche facilities across this county who’re both run and staffed by amazing, trustworthy professionals.

 

And another thing…

 

What kind of nonsense was going through Leo Varadkar’s head that made him think we’d swallow the whole slap-on-the-wrist demotion penalty dished out to Maria Bailey for her ludicrous ‘swing-gate’ claim was fair and just? And, does Leo seriously believe we endorse his conclusion that Josepha Madigan, whose legal advice was given to Bailey in her capacity as a mere TD, has absolutely nothing to answer for? Furthermore, does last week’s statement by Leo now mean he’s adding the title of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to his CV, and that he, and not the courts, will be enforcing criminal law on behalf of the people of Ireland? And oh, does it strike anyone as strange that, you and me, whose taxes likely paid for internal ‘enquiry’ will have to be satisfied with a cr***y statement from Leo as opposed to actually seeing evidence of any documentation pertaining to its outcome?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Simon’s HSE ‘shake-up’ has got me in a spin

 

 

He finally admitted  the HSE was “never fit for purpose” and promised that the shake-up of our health services would result in fewer managers overall – however, time will tell if Health Minister Simon Harris’ cunning plan to reform this hugely bloated cumbersome  organisation will succeed. Personally, I doubt it…and here’s why; we’ve already been there and done that.

  Under new plans, over the next two years, taxpayers and service users should see six regional health areas being set up across the country. Sound familiar? Thought so! You see, the HSE, in its current form, was introduced back in 2004 to replace the health boards that were already in operation at the time. So, in a nutshell, it’s not a shake-up, it’s simply a case of the government doing a Marty McFly and going back to the future, only now they’re spinning it as the implementation of Sláintecare.

  For those who’re still a tad confused, the idea is that it’s hoped the ‘new’ structure will showcase a more linked-in local health care system and a far smaller HSE administration to look after the likes of quality and financial assurance and clinical strategies, and so on.  These are principally the current problems the failing framework has typically been facing. Now, from chatting with readers, I know Simon’s spin is generating lots of excitement around the possibility that at last, our government will be providing us, the taxpayers, with a greatly improved community-based health service, but personally I’m sceptical. I want to know what plans he’s put in place, if, in the highly likely scenario, variations in care standards arise across the country. However, on a positive note, (because I want to be fair), I’m glad it’s proposed that local people will be hired based primarily on their medical experience and abilities, and on their competency skillsets to run these regional offices as opposed to  what could be described as the technically deficient suits currently in charge.

  Whatever happens, make no mistake about it folks, this shake-up, which we should see being fed in by 2021, is gonna cost us taxpayers’ big time. This proposed ‘joined-up’ service between the local doctor to the local hospital and to us, the community, is not gonna come cheap and I want to know where Harris will make the cuts and how many patients are going to suffer as a result of his big plans.

 

Tee-ed off with British pundits who blur our stars’ national identities

 

Now, I know absolutely nothing whatsoever about golf, other than the fact that players Shane Lowry, (comhghairdeas champ), and Rory McIlroy are both Irish! Did ya get that pundit Gary Lineker and Sky Sports’ commentator Laura Davies? They’re not British, you cheeky pair of gits, they’re both I-r-i-s-h; from the island of I-r-e-l-a-n-d, the country your, ahem, ‘empire’ once tried to airbrush out of the history books!  Yes readers, it really tee-ed me off last weekend when this pair, who should really know better, tried to claim both of these Irish sportsmen as their own.

  In the case of Rory McIlroy, Lineker ignorantly tweeted ‘It’s the British Open and @McIlroyRory is British’. In the case of Offaly native Shane Lowry, as the event was taking place on Irish soil for the first time in 68 years, and, strangely, as the strapline appeared on the screen in front of her eyes, Davies’ rudely stripped our hero of his nationality. Indeed, I’m certain the collective sharp intake of Irish breath was clearly audible across our entire island when the misinformed one announced live on air, “It would be lovely wouldn’t it for the home fans, and for us as well because it’s nice to see a British winner of The Open”.

  Look, here’s the thing Britain. With regard to Rory, we know he’s faced a few questions around his identity during his very illustrious career in the past, but the fact is, he will be representing Ireland, (not Britain) at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020. With that in mind, stop bein’ so flippin’ clingy, it’s embarrassing, and stop staking a claim to our home-grown heroes and instead, move on and get a few of your own! 

 

What is your price-point Paschal?

 

I listened to Minister for Waffle, sorry Finance Paschal Donohoe’s jibber-jabber regarding his Department’s latest strategy proposals around applying tax on new cars and used imports, the terms of which he’ll need to consider in time for this year’s Budget. Now, while I do know that, from an environmental point of view, certain changes are needed, this whole sudden anti-diesel campaign waged by our government has really got me fuming, especially as I’m one of the suckers who bought a diesel car, paying them €1,200 a year to tax it.

  I mean, if I could afford it, as an eco-friendly citizen, I’d gladly change to an electric vehicle; as I’m sure so would many other concerned readers. In fact, if I lived in a county that had a public transport system like buses, the DART and the LUAS, I’d happily get rid of my car altogether. However, here’s the thing, I’m in Roscommon, and, not only are we lacking the public transport facilities enjoyed by other counties, we’re also devoid of a sufficient supply of electric vehicle charging points.

  So, while Paschal parades his vote-winning initiatives contained in a ‘give and take’ Budget, teasing us with  the €700 million available to him to balance the nation’s books – the clincher being his big plans to overhaul the type of cars we drive – rural motorists like you and me are being overlooked.

  With this is mind, I have the following questions. Why are rural drivers/voters constantly being ignored by our government? How is Paschal going to make electric vehicles more affordable to us, and, if he does, as the infrastructure is not in place to charge them, how does he expect us to drive them? In short…charging points aside, I want to know, what exactly is your price-point Paschal?

 

Why I won’t be FaceApping!

 

 

Living with the consequences of a broken foot hasn’t just left me clinging to two crutches while trying to apply a bit of make-up; it’s also rendered me the perfect contortionist for a job with the Cirque du Soleil.  However, due to my lack of make-up, not only do I not wish to see what I look like in the mirror today, I don’t wish to see what I look like when I’m pushing 90. To that end, I won’t be engaging in the new FaceApp fad everyone’s on about.

  But for those who do, bear in mind that the App, developed and owned by Russian company Wireless Lab, has privacy policies dating back to 2017, meaning they pre-date GDPR, the relevance of which means your biometric data, (including your photos), is covered.

  Now this company has issued a statement saying ‘most’ images uploaded are being removed within 48 hours – but ‘most’ does not mean all! However, if you’re happy with that, knock yourself out and snap away. But remember this, your pic is not just changing on your phone, it’s changing in other places too, and it’s going onto an unknown server. So, if the day ever dawns when you, (who’ve given your images away for free), will want/need them to be returned, the company involved may not be so generous, possibly leading to you paying extortionate amounts in order to retrieve it.

 

 

Nothing like a broken foot to keep you grounded

 

 

It was 6 am. I’d showered, and, as the sun was shining, I’d dressed in a pair of skinny jeans and a t-shirt. Then, putting on more make-up than would be required by the entire cast of Ru Paul’s colourful drag queen contestant line-up, I headed downstairs. As my nose followed the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee, compliments of he-who-is-manacled-to-me, I was in great form at the prospect of the pair of us enjoying breakfast with our fur babies before I’d head off to work. That’s when the unthinkable happened. Five steps from the bottom of the stairs, my left foot suddenly slipped over the edge…and bam! I heard two things. The first was a loud crack. The second was the ear-splitting sound of my own voice screaming louder than a Tony award winner!

  However, thanks to he-who-picked-me-up-as-if-I-were-a-feather, in no time I was being rushed to our family doctor in Boyle. Once there, lovely receptionist Nicky got me into surgery and Dr. Kamal, upon examining me, gave me a shot of painkiller, before sending me, (and a letter) to Roscommon hospital’s injury unit for treatment, where I received wonderful care.

  Following a series of x-rays and CT scans, it was thought I’d broken my talus, which is a small foot bone that works as a hinge between the tibia and the fibula. Or something like that. I was finding it difficult to concentrate through the excruciating pain barrier, wishing some kind soul would dispense a bit of morphine in my direction. By lunchtime, I was on my way home, my left foot fitted with a support boot, a pair of crutches and an appointment to see a fracture specialist the following morning at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway. Before I go any further, I need to thank the porter Paul Lally, an absolute gent who came out to the car with a wheelchair to whisk me to reception. Thanks also to the receptionist, whose name I didn’t get, but who’ll remember me as the white-as-a-sheet aul wan, whom, upon being asked her age, replied…“I’m a 22-year-old supermodel masquerading as a menopausal harpy”. You were both a pleasure to deal with. I’d also like to thank the advanced registered practitioner Maggie Mew, who was exceptionally nice and super-efficient.  And also the delightful radiographer Emer, who I’m sure, delayed having her lunch in order to carry out my CT scan. Congratulations on your forthcoming marriage Emer; you’ll be a beautiful bride.

  The following morning, upon arrival at Mr. Shannon’s clinic in Merlin Park, the fantastic team discovered yet another fracture. Hearing this news has greatly upset me, especially as the second one affected my calcaneus, (heel bone), which, according to the specialist, can be a pretty disabling injury. In addition, due to an autoimmune condition, they are unable to operate. Nor can I take anti-inflammatories. However, I refuse to let this beat me and, following a visit to the physiotherapist, I’m determined to do all in my power to get back on both feet again.

   I’m in a lot of pain. My foot resembles a piece of bruised and blackened flesh, as opposed to a body part, (probably because my tendons and ligaments are bunched too). I’m extremely upset and mad at myself for ‘allowing’ this to happen, but through it all, I’ve been taking the past two weeks to reflect on my life. 

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

  I had an accident because I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. It’s that simple. I’m not religious, but I’m thanking my angels my momentary lack of attention only caused physical hurt to me, and nobody else.

  I need to be more patient with myself. This is something I’ve learned as I haul my ass up and down the stairs, carry out my exercises and take three times longer to do simple things like going to the toilet, or taking a shower. This patience thing also needs to extend to others around me; especially those looking after me when I ask them to do something and they do it their way, and not the OCD Miriam way. Sorry darling!

  It’s going to take time for my foot to heal; during which I can’t go for my daily walks, and having already missed them for two weeks, I’ve gone from always moving at warp speed to a lunatic who is now literally crawling the walls. However, big picture…in the context of the rest of my life, those healing weeks will prove to be relatively short and I need to slow down, cut myself a bit of slack and allow myself to heal both emotionally and physically. I need to stop being the worrier who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and all her ‘just-in-case’ c**p in her handbag. The reason I’m doing this is because I know that being patient and being calm in the coming weeks, and in accepting help when it’s offered, will result in a more positive outcome for both me and my injury. A massive thanks goes to the man who is my minder, chauffeur, coffee and sympathy dispenser, helper, and laid-back smart-ass who commented that maybe now I’ll learn to live life at a more reasonable pace…my wonderful hubby Simon.

 

Did angry feminists kill chivalry?

 

Last week, broadcaster Laura Whitmore’s tweet regarding how she’d ‘struggled to carry a massive case up 3 flights of stairs at train station. Well abled group of men behind me watched and didn’t offer to help,’ (Sic), got me asking two questions:  One, is chivalry dead? Two, did angry feminists kill it?

  Now, I empathise with Laura, but, as an independent woman myself, (crutches aside), I’d wonder why she singled out the ‘well abled group of men’ not coming to her aid, and didn’t take umbrage with any possible ‘well abled’ women standing by? I consider myself to be a feminist, but for me, feminism is all about equality. It’s not about man-bashing. Hence my curiosity regarding why unhelpful males and not unhelpful females appear to have raised Laura’s ire.

  You see readers, it’s my fear that, sometimes, in this politically correct world, instead of us feminists using our skills to educate others about equality and good manners through a logical and balanced approach, some – we’ll call them revolutionary renegades, (okay, nut jobs) – are burning their colourless bras, throwing their childish tantrums and hopping on bandwagons just so they can spread hate and utter confusion. This has led to the majority of men now being scared of how their good manners in offering help to a lady will be interpreted. And, dare I suggest that in Laura’s situation, it’s highly likely one or more of those ‘well abled men’ wanted to offer her their assistance, but were actually scared stiff, that if they stepped up, they’d be accused of treating her as a weak and feeble female. Remember, chivalry does not equal sexism, folks; rather it equals good manners and respect for all.

 

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