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From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Another fine mess…why I’m livid with insensitive Stanley

 

Last week, channelling his inner Maggie Thatcher, and offering his opinion as to what the so-called ‘Iron Lady’ would have thought of the whole Brexit border challenge, Stanley Johnson, champion of the over-privileged and, given his insensitive comments, pitiless prat, said “If the Irish want to shoot each other they will shoot each other whether there’s a hard border or whether there’s a soft border”.

  Speaking on TV show Good Morning Britain, Boris Johnson’s inconsiderate pompous father callously dismissed every devastating and destabilising era in our history as if they were collectively a batch of fun-filled, frivolous pastimes, only occasionally resulting in the disfigurement and death of our people. I mean, what does this clearly intellectually challenged Olympic standard buffoon think we are…a pack of wild savages? And, eh by the way Stanley, we didn’t ‘shoot each other,’ the fact is, historically, many of your fellow countrymen (not all, because I won’t see decent British people maligned), were guilty of starving, torturing and shooting us; but alas, perhaps they didn’t teach you verifiable specifics at your expensive Exeter College?

  Now at this point folks, despite the fact I’m positively livid with Johnson, and with him alone, I feel I must state that I have many UK friends, and I’m married to an Englishman, so I’m fully aware there are righteous, hard-working and honourable British nationals living in Roscommon, so I neither mean, nor do I bear, any ill will toward them whatsoever. In my view, we’ve put our fractured history firmly behind us in the name of peace, love, friendship, and in affording the Queen a warm céad míle fáilte, and I for one wholeheartedly embrace and welcome our British neighbours with open arms and the respect they truly deserve.

  However, in light of Johnson’s statement last week, I have to question if, indeed, we can fully depend on the UK truly being our close friend, or, (and I’m just throwing it out here), does the former MP’s very public lapsus linguae, (that’s slip of the tongue for those wot didn’t do Latin in skule), mean there worryingly still exists – across the water – a band of supercilious ‘ruling-class’ snobs who believe the British historical and tyrannical oppression of our little country, not to mention their former attempt to annihilate our Irish culture, was simply just their little way of ‘aving a right old larf? And, if so, is this belief so deeply ingrained, it has distressingly been passed down through generations? Nah, maybe this is just a Johnson family thing?

  Nevertheless, if the former is the case, (and I’m certain it’s not), but, what if it were, does it mean there’s possibly a cohort of rich gits, totally unburdened by the harsh realities of everyday life, going about dismissing the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process with the same vulgarity displayed by Johnson, hence trying to sour the now solid, trusting relationship we’ve so painstakingly managed to build with our nearest and dearest neighbours? It’s enough to make to one extremely nervous, isn’t it?

Stanley Johnson’s ill-timed comments were not only uncomfortable for us Irish to bear; I’d imagine they’ve also made many of our distinguished British friends feel twitchy.

  It’s my opinion that the former British Foreign Secretary’s father is not just a public embarrassment; he’s also the owner of a dangerous Machiavellian mouth! As someone who used to produce live TV, my advice to UK broadcasters, given we’re now into end-game scenario regarding Brexit, would be to keep this pompous individual whose grasp of history, and delicate political situations, is as naff as his trademark fluff ball, helmet of hair, (which, strangely is probably the most impressive attribute the 78 year old possesses), off the air until the entire situation is safely, securely and harmoniously resolved.

 

Blasphemy: Do you know what you’re voting for?

 

Tomorrow (Friday), sees us going to the polls to vote on a law relating to the offence of Blasphemy. Currently, if an individual is found guilty of what is defined as ‘the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things,’ they could be slapped with a fine of €25,000. There is no prison sentence attached to this offence.

  Now, while our Constitution, i.e. Bunreacht na hÉireann, came into effect on 29th December, 1937, on what’s called Constitution Day, the fact is that Blasphemy was never clearly defined…are ya with me? Therefore, in order to give the offence, (of which nobody has ever been convicted), a clear definition in law, the Defamation Act 2009 says that an individual is guilty of blasphemy if they ‘Publish or say something that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and intend to cause that outrage’. However, I must point out that there is a defence in place if the accused can prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they have published or said.

Still with me?            

  Now, all of the above aside, while I’m of the opinion that holding a stand-alone referendum to remove the offence of Blasphemy is a waste of taxpayers’ money, I also believe this ridiculous  law has absolutely no place in a civilised, democratic society where we should all be allowed and entitled to express our views. So, while a referendum is an expense we cannot afford, the offence of blasphemy is a clear encroachment on free speech in this country and the Oireachtas needs to be able to change the law so that it is no longer an offence. But that’s just my opinion; it’s up to you to make up your own minds folks.

 

 

I’m glad honourable Denis jumped before he was pushed

 

 

Whether it’s your own decision to move on or whether it’s the gaffer’s decision to push you, the fact is, you need to go with your head held high and your pride intact. And, while I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not know former Minister Denis Naughten personally, watching his resignation – which, by the way came as no shock to me having heard Leo Varadkar’s TV3 interview where, in my opinion, he all but held aloft Denis’ P45 for everyone to see – I’m glad he jumped ship before he was pushed.

  It was the honourable and the in-yer-face Leo, thing to do. Fair play to ya Denis! And while doing so, he may have alienated some Rossies, (understandable), Denis hasn’t alienated them all, and he certainly hasn’t alienated this adopted Rossie, who loves nothing more than a fighter and a survivor; especially when it’s one whom, like Naughten, tries hard not to portray themselves as a vengeful sore loser; something which I believe will only serve to benefit his career going forward.

  I don’t need to explain, because unless you were living under a rock, you’ll have been aware of the mounting pressure on Naughten following revelations about several private, unminuted  dinners with the head of the one remaining group bidding for the highly lucrative, (in fact €500 million) National Broadband Plan (NBP) contract.  Add to that, the reasonably priced Dáil lunch – paid for by Naughten – which now turns out to have cost much more than he’d bargained for.

  In addition, if you cast your mind back to April when news of the now infamous and inappropriate contact Denis had in November 2016 with a lobbyist who was acting for Independent News & Media in relation to a proposed takeover bid of the Celtic Media group, then – playing devil’s advocate here – I’d say, in all fairness to Leo, (and I like to think I’m fair-minded), I can see why he probably felt his former Minister had dropped the ball one too many times lately.

  Now while I firmly believe Naughten behaved unwisely, it has to be said he was in an impossible situation, one where a key part of his remit was to provide broadband for the one million plus people who were depending on him. So in my opinion, the poor man was simply trying to do his level best regarding a set of circumstances that were doomed and flawed the very second Eir was allowed to cherry-pick the cream of the crop of customers, propelling the rest of us, (550,000, but I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong), into broadband purgatory.

  Actually, while I’m at it…can I just ask why nobody is going ballistic over that massive betrayal? I mean, why aren’t we all furious over the fact our government, (sorry, our inclusive, fair-minded, reforming government), abdicated its duty to make sure this vital service reached all taxpayers equally, and not just the select few? Or is it far easier to make one man – whose fate was cruelly sealed when he was left with little or no choice – the country’s punchbag? I have no inside knowledge, but I do believe that Naughten engaged with the only entity left in the tendering process for one reason, and one reason only, and that is, nobody wanted to begin the entire painful competitive process from scratch, and, having no other route open to him other than to see this debacle through to its conclusion, and secure us our broadband, he tried hard to break down barriers and keep the remaining contract bidder on side! 

  Denis Naughten, you appear to me to be an affable and a decent gentleman; you hold your head high, hon; you may be down, but you’re not out. I wish you well.

 

Imagine a world with superhero Kanye as POTUS!

 

Love him, loathe him or think as I do that he’s an over-rated ass-kisser with way too much influence and money, it’s clear that Kanye West’s or ‘Ye’ as he wants to be known, circus (esque) meeting with fellow narcissist Donald Trump in the Oval Office last week smacked more of two attention-seeking man-children desperate to show the world that they’re a pair of prize prats!

  You see readers, as human beings were fighting for their very survival during Hurricane Michael, West, the man who seems to believe he has so much God-given talent he could quite possibly be a deity himself, disturbingly cuddled and stroked the publicity-obsessed, erratic, will-full Trump’s ego, both appearing to be totally and embarrassingly immune to the fact the death toll was rapidly rising in Florida!

  I mean, at one stage I actually wondered if what I was looking at was a spoof fly-on-the-wall-mock-u-drama instead of a real-life situation starring a raging racist misogynist, and his deluded, be-fuddled, post-modern, cross-cultural, rapper side-kick, (he’d say genius), who thinks a baseball cap will give him the super powers needed to become the next POTUS!

  However, it was during the very moment a journalist asked Trump if Kim Kardashian’s hubby  could be a future presidential candidate, that the chilling spectre of fear licked over me like fiery flames as Agent Orange turned and replied: “could very well be,” and I realised this egomaniac’s twisted fantasy could actually come true. Just wondering, would his election slogan be ‘Yes We Kanye’?

 

Primary health care should not carry a price tag

 

 

According to Minister for Health Simon Harris, “We are making history,” with the introduction of last week’s Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in the Dáil. And, whatever your views concerning the introduction of abortion services in this country, it’s true that, since last May’s referendum to repeal the Eight Amendment, we are indeed making history by legalising this, shall we say, ‘medical procedure,’ making it available, without any cost barrier, for those who want it or who need it.

  However, in our already overstretched and over stressed joke of a healthcare system, which is about to enter the usual annual winter trolley-crisis cock-up, and where over 718,000 patients, many of them elderly, are agonisingly waiting on a hospital appointment, I’d like to ask if, given the obvious sensitive against-the-clock nature of undergoing a pregnancy termination, does this mean this service will now be taking priority over other services? And if so, in light of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association’s annual conference which was held in our neighbouring county Galway last week, and where president Dr. Donal O’Hanlon told us there is a ‘chronic shortage of consultants, beds and other facilities in the health service,’ with five hundred permanent hospital consultant posts remaining ‘unfilled,’ I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask how deluded does Simon Harris have to be to believe this new free abortion initiative, (vital though it is), will run smoothly?

  Thankfully, I have never been in a so-called crisis pregnancy situation, (although I was a teenage mother), I do understand there are a million reasons why a woman chooses to terminate her pregnancy, and I’ve always tried to remain wholly objective when writing about this very emotive and heartbreaking subject because while I know it’s a personal decision, I also believe it’s an extremely painful one.

  Over the years, I have personally supported, held the trembling hands, and shed what seemed like the perpetual tears of despair with friends who have undergone terminations. I have equally held the hands and shared in the overwhelming anguish of those who have fought tooth and nail to either become pregnant or indeed, to carry their precious babies to full term. And so, with total impartiality, and I hope, sensitivity, I’d like to say that if accessing our new abortion services will not carry a price tag, (which is perfectly acceptable), I would fully agree with those who call for any costs relating to maternity services, which are also equally a major part of our primary healthcare system, to also be universally available to those who need it. I mean fair is fair after all! However, the question still remains…where is all the money coming from Simon?

  Mind you, I’d say all in all, last week was quite a busy time for our little nation with the introduction of the controversial legislation that brings stringent rules and regulations around the sale of alcoholic drinks passing through all stages of the Dáil, thus   paving the way for Big Brother to introduce procedures around placing cancer warnings, minimum unit pricing, advertising restrictions, a broadcasting watershed, and the segregation of the aul uisce beatha etc., from other products in supermarkets in the vain hope it’ll reduce our alcohol consumption.

  Now while this Bill, described by Simon Harris  as  being “ground breaking legislation,” clearly represents a milestone for this country, (and given it has been before the Oireachtas since 2015, I’d say he’s delira to see the back of it), I do agree and empathise that, in many Irish households, (not all), alcohol consumption has caused enormous devastation to families; however, while this highly significant legislative step might make it look like our government is doing something, it remains my opinion that moderate alcohol consumption in a reasonable manner will not negatively affect our society.

  So Simon, instead of banning the booze, and treating us all like inebriated dipsos, why not become proactive in rolling out a comprehensive education and advocacy service regarding its misuse and abuse?

 

We owe Emma a debt of gratitude

 

She could have spent every waking hour she had with her family, however, the heroine that was Emma Mhic Mhathúna whose cervical screening slides were misread, resulting in a failure to pick up abnormalities leading to her being diagnosed with cervical cancer, used what precious little time she had left on this earth to fight for social justice for women like you, me and her five babies. This young mother of five, this boundless warrior, had a singular determination to fight the battle for truth, and fight she did; however, last week, Emma died without ever managing to secure the one thing she strove to achieve…full and unconditional accountability for her devastating circumstances. You see, despite the fact negligence was proven, liability was admitted and she received a settlement of €7.5m; today, as I write, CervicalCheck has still not ordered an investigation to ascertain what went wrong with the entire programme!

  While I feel absolutely heartbroken for Emma’s family, and for the 221 other women directly affected by this devastating cancer scandal, (however it’s likely that not all of these 221 women at the centre of this debacle who got wrong test results are victims of negligence), I must point out that the importance of the CervicalCheck screening programme should never be underestimated.

            I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again; I believe, beyond a doubt, that a routine CervicalCheck saved my life; it picked up my, let’s call them, ‘invasive’ cells, and I would urge all women not to lose confidence in this vital service. 

  Emma Mhic Mhathúna made an enormous impact on this world, one that far transcended her fight for the truth. Never hesitant to speak her mind, this eloquent human being effortlessly traversed the worlds of  motherhood and influential activist; may she rest in peace.

 

 

Why I’m lovin’ Oíche Shamhna Roscommon style

 

 

 

Hi, my name is Miriam and I’m a recovering Hallowe’en hater! Now don’t get me wrong, it’s got nothing to do with scary movies, nor has it got anything to do with dressing up; I’m a big drama queen who loves nothing more than trowelling enough slap on her face to cover an entire RuPaul Drag Race Convention. Besides, what mature woman in her right mind would pass up the opportunity to morph into shape-shifting Mystique…yep, still trying to wash that blue body paint out of my orifices and my unmentionables. 

  So you get it; I’m a fun girl, well, a fun aul wan in denial, who likes to go a little crazy at Hallowe’en.

However, if you’re a former animal welfare officer working in Dublin, as I once was, then Hallowe’en and the build-up can be a living hell. Let me explain…

  The areas in which I worked turned into war-zones with the ‘traditional’ bonfire stockpiling beginning in September. This gave a licence to gormless thugs, (and, strangely, some of their parents, who were usually filthy drunk) to build towering inferno skyscrapers next to houses, cars and sheds, and then set them alight. If that weren’t destructive enough, many would throw (unlicensed) fireworks and bangers onto the blaze for good measure, before rejoicing in perverted hysteria! 

  Now you may well call me a waspish aul killjoy, trying to pour cold water on the poor kids’ fun, but when you’re passionate about animals and are heartbreakingly tasked with rescuing (or retrieving) a poor innocent dog or cat who has been walking around their own garden, (because their owner has ignored public pleas to keep them indoors),  and who instead, has, through no fault of their own, strayed into the uneducated cretins’ path, and then is, let’s say for the sake of decency, ‘horrifically abused’ and you, (as I have) are called to clean up the mess, then I’d imagine, you too would hate Hallowe’en.

  I can tell you readers, I bore witness to sights that broke me. In fact, so horrendous and endemic was animal cruelty in certain ‘hot spot’ areas around Hallowe’en that I refused point blank to allow anyone adopt a cat, in particular black kitties, for the simple reason, through research and experience, the organisation I worked for found there was a strong predilection for sadistic individuals to use them in certain torture rituals. Due to this, I worked in tandem with members of Dublin Fire Brigade and An Garda Siochána promoting positive animal welfare and the responsible enjoyment of the spooky season.

  However, I did say I’m a former Hallowe’en hater because, since we relocated to rural Roscommon, the run-up to Oíche Shamhna, and indeed, the night itself has passed without incident, i.e. it’s stress-free and as quiet as the grave, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the whole experience, even going so far as to try and keep up with the Addams’ family; (for those scratching their heads, they’re TV’s fictional scary bunch), by decorating the house two weeks beforehand with pumpkins, seasonal wreaths and swivelling skeletons etc., And sure who doesn’t adore drinking delicious pumpkin lattes and downing Roscommon’s finest restaurants’ spooktacular eats and treats so  indicative of this ghoulish gore-fest!

  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love my native Dublin, and will always stand up for it. But since moving to Roscommon, where I keep my hand on the tip of my car’s steering wheel ready to wave and acknowledge my fellow friendly motorists as they pass by; where the reassuring aroma of turf  (as opposed to the scorched stench of someone’s torched property) creeps up your nostrils at Hallowe’en, where everyone knows everyone meaning teens are unlikely to cause trouble and step out of line, and are instead, likely to be a lot more respectful, possibly for fear their parents (and the local community guard) would get wind of their antics; I’ve now warmed to the supernatural season.

  Of course I’m not suggesting that Hallowe’en Roscommon style passes without incident, (I’m sure the poor Gardaí and the emergency services are kept on their toes); however, from my own personal experience, in this neck of the woods,  you’re less likely to see an out of control gang of kids, (some as young as 11-years-old) discharging  incendiary objects in your direction while others, only slightly older, get high, neck bottles of beer and hurl aerosol cans and other explosive devices onto bonfires…all done in the name of a celebration!

 

Leave the diesel alone Paschal!

Readers will know that traditionally, up to 2014, Budget Day would land during the first week of December; just in time for the Christmas shopping splurge…or not, depending on the outcome.

However, ahead of next Tuesday’s big budget reveal, (well, it’s hardly a revelation, considering the government’s  been drip feeding us carefully stage-managed titbits for months now), Paschal Donohoe, (the owner of what is possibly Ireland’s most irritating voice), is fully expected to implement a few paltry cuts to our Income Tax and our USC levies.

  However, I’m sure in true spreadsheet-bulimic style, (give, take, give, take), Paschal will snap his fiscal wallet shut and slap a big juicy increase on the excise duty on diesel meaning those of us who drive diesel cars will see our weekly outgoings ballooning even higher than they have over the past few weeks. Has anyone noticed how expensive filling up for a journey has become? Sure it’s enough to make me choke, because, and here’s the kicker, while I’m no tree hugger, I am one of those eejits who fell for the manipulative spin that switching from petrol to diesel was a positive step towards saving our planet.

  However, in hindsight, in a clear case of daylight robbery Irish style, I realise the government didn’t actually want me to be environmentally conscientious; they just wanted me to possess something they could tax, and then strip me of my ability to use it! If you want to take the knife out of my back Paschal love, please leave the diesel alone!

Does Menopause Treaty render our warranty on worth to expire?

 

 

Having been part of a couple since I was 15 years old, I’ve never actually been on the so-called ‘dating’ scene. However, while watching a clip of ITV’s This Morning last week, I’ve come to the conclusion that, if you’re single, and of a certain age, (as in a fabulous mature lady), then dating twenty-first-century-style should probably be reserved for the extreme sports enthusiasts!

  Yes girls, it seems, unless you’re a woman who’s prepared to lurk in dark corners, avoiding bright lights for fear they’ll show up your wrinkles, then those unattached minxes among us will probably either need to drastically alter their aging appearances, or channel the confidence of a daring trapeze artist willing to dive into the dating pool without the benefit of a safety net!

  Yes readers, it appears once a woman reaches a certain milestone, something which I’m going to call the Menopause Treaty springs into action, cruelly reminding us the best before warranty on our worth has long expired, pulling the pin on the live grenade that was once our youthful beauty.

  Now it’s not the grey roots that have ruffled my feathers this week, nay it’s a certain Dr. Linda Li, cosmetic surgeon extraordinaire, who works in association with an online dating site, Beautifulpeople.com where members brutally get to  vote on whether or not new applicants are eligible to join… based on their looks alone!

  Speaking on This Morning last week, Dr. Li callously informed presenter Ruth Langsford, who is, in my opinion, a stunningly attractive and highly intelligent middle-aged woman, that, if she were to join her dating site and was ‘rejected’ for not being ‘beautiful’ enough, not to panic; help was at hand. Whew!

  While the doc didn’t actually tell Ruth her face had more lines than British Telecom, she rudely pointed out her “early signs of facial ageing,” her droopy “upper eyelid skin,” and her “smile lines, (which) are a little more prominent,” helpfully adding “we can soften all of that”. Aaaww bless, chin up Ruth hon; and, despite what Dr. Linda says…you do only have one of them!

  Now where was this talented yet arrogant doctor when women like Ruth, me and the rest of the wrinkled female population were spending a fortune on miracle creams for our faces, stomachs, thighs and boobs that, having breastfed, now sit comfortably on our waists? Add in the fact that having painfully pushed out our brood, it’s likely our once solid pelvic floor muscles have become so stressed, we’ll never again be able to burst into a fit of laughter without first secretly contracting our vaginal muscles for fear we’ll accidentally pee ourselves!

  While I’m sure this doctor was only offering her professional opinion, and is not, (as I shouted at the telly), the devil incarnate, (although, you could probably confuse them both in an identity parade), she did come across as being overcritical and dismissive of older women, especially when, in a voice that sounded more like a rusty hinge, she touted for business by delivering the final blow, saying when women age, “it becomes more and more difficult to maintain a slim figure, so when we disrobe, it may make us more comfortable to have a slimmer figure and liposuction is a great way to do it”. 

  And there was me thinking that spraying on the fake tan as though I was Michelangelo would make me look more desirable in a nightie; when, in actual fact, it probably settles in my wrinkles, making me resemble an over-ripe mango!

  So much for going about life thinking hubby adored me for my lived-in look, when, in fact, he’s probably only attracted to my cryptic crossword solving abilities; and, if I want to hang onto him, (in the face-lift specialist’s opinion), I’ll need to hop off that hamster wheel of oblivion, have my entire head cosmetically removed and join her Beautifulpeople.com dating site!  

  Yes ladies, it appears that once we reach middle age and the kids have left home, unless we reassess our critical failure measures, (i.e. our time-worn skins), our have-it-all-dream will turn into a lift-it-all-nightmare. I’ll tell you this, if the ESB could have harvested the steam rising from my body during that interview, Roscommon’s energy problems would be forever solved.

 

Allow Gardaí the scope and space to get to know us as a community

 

An Garda Síochána remained the big story last week. This was due to the findings of The Future of Policing in Ireland Report coming up with 50 radical recommendations, which it suggests should be implemented over what I’d imagine to be a pretty narrow four-year timeframe.

  As our police force was founded nearly a century ago by my hero Michael Collins, and on the 8th August, (which, coincidentally is my birthday), I’d assume it’s going to take a lot longer to change a culture that’s been growing steadily for such a long time. 

  In addition, if these findings are to be taken seriously and not join all of the other expensive recommendation-filled reports gathering dust in filing cabinets around the country, then an independent individual must be tasked with overseeing them.

  However, throwing in my own tuppence worth of insight into the mix here, I’d urge the government (and the public) to start cooperating with An Garda Síochána and to treat them as the community focused and friendly professionals they clearly are.

  We need to return to a time when our Gardaí were allowed the scope and the space to be able to knock on our doors, introduce themselves, and get to know us, and not just as the citizens they’ve sworn to protect, but as locals who are ready to offer them the cooperation and the respect they so richly deserve.

 

 

Is Leo’s bare-bones LDA plan boldly going nowhere?

 

 

Last week, leaping about as if they were auditioning for the lead in Riverdance, Leo and Eoghan, displaying their best posh boy grins, left the luxurious environs of Leinster House to launch their latest quango; sorry Land Development Agency!

  Touted as being the Holy Grail to end our boom-and-bust cycle, the impeccably turned out Umbilical Brothers, who’ve been pretending to look after the country’s welfare for so long now –I’d half expected to see them wearing white coats and brandishing clipboards – pledged to unlock sites ‘such as hospital lands, barracks, or depots for development with private builders’. Positive move, or too little, too late?

  Well, as I’m someone who makes it a rule never to believe a handsome man who looks like he could lick his own eyebrows, I’m sceptical. In addition, as I tend to analyse every syllable you say to me, as well as inspecting your body language and your use of terminology as you speak, (ask hubby, he’ll confirm I’m a human lie detector), let me explain why I’m in the too little, too late camp!

  You see, this new Land Development Agency (LDA), which Leo, (nearly breaking into PowerPoint presentation mode), has likened to the founding of the ESB, was clearly designed to tease and tantalise us with the notion there’ll be ten thousand houses built by 2020. However, in actual fact folks, the State only has enough land freed up for three thousand units, and we can only hope the various agencies involved in holding the rest of the land will be willing to discuss releasing it so we can get on with building the further seven thousand pledged. Now, I do hope you’ll forgive my (now) familiar frostiness regarding this quango, but I fear this launch is just another case of more bulls**t packaged up as a say-lots-deliver-nothing-manifesto; and, if I’d been one of the journos at the photocall, I’d have asked for much more than a bare-bones, skeletal outline of a plan that appears to be boldly going nowhere!

  And don’t get me started on the travesty that is our hospital waiting lists! I mean, how can a country with one of the best funded health services in Europe, (possibly the world, with twenty five per cent of the gross government spend going into this facility), have 718,000 patients desperate to either enter a hospital for treatment or see a consultant? Now again, I hate to seem like I’m always complaining, but in a country with less than five million citizens, from my perspective this is absolutely scandalous; yet we constantly swallow the government’s gaggle of contradictory spin! Then again, I suppose we’ve heard so much persuasive, pre-election propaganda lately, our brains are flip-flopping like dying fish desperate for survival. 

  Oh, by the way, don’t think we’ll be rewarded for our devotion in the next Budget! Nay, I’d say the fabulous people of Roscommon have more chance of getting a direct hit from an asteroid than they’ll have of seeing more cash in their pockets! Personally folks, given I can detect the pong of Eau-de-Extortion from here, I’m gonna sign up to join Poor, Sad, Middle-Aged Anonymous because what we once thought was real leadership from Leo has turned out to be possibly nothing more than a mirage.

Who’s in charge of our law enforcement? Men in balaclavasor An Garda Síochána?

 

Regular readers will know I have enormous respect for members of An Garda Síochána and believe they’re doing a fantastic job; and, hand on heart, I personally have never met a member of the force who was disrespectful or who acted in an unprofessional manner. However, the use of hooded Gardaí during what was essentially a peaceful protest in Dublin, where ‘a network of 18 grassroots activist groups’ were taking ‘direct action against Ireland’s housing crisis,’ was an absolute disgrace. And, even though our new Garda Commissioner Drew Harris addressed the issue, admitting the use of hoods by members of the public order unit “was not correct,” I have to ask, why then, as the boss, didn’t he put more thought into the whole operation before an order was issued?

  I mean, I imagine these officers didn’t just take it upon themselves to pop on a hood; some higher ranking member must have instructed them to do so. Now while I’m sure Mr. Harris will make for an excellent Commissioner, he needs to be reminded that while he does have an impressive CV, his 35 years of experience should have given him some small clue that what was happening in our capital city last week was merely a peaceful protest and should have been dealt with accordingly.

  Instead, it appears, a sanction commensurate with a covert intelligence operation the like of which one would expect to see used to deal with dissident terrorists sprang into action, and that’s just plain overkill!

  Let me stress, I’m not one to engage in public protests, (never have been), but I do believe Irish citizens have a constitutional right to hold a peaceful rally, (emphasis being on peaceful), should they so choose, however, the rule of the law must be upheld at all times and High Court orders must be obeyed and, unfortunately, in last week’s incident, it appears the compliance of a High Court order was being blatantly ignored, meaning Garda action was deemed necessary. I understand, and I fully respect that. However, was it necessary to order our force to back-up a group of balaclava-wearing individuals who looked more like ‘heavies’ than private security personnel? The optics weren’t good Commissioner, so perhaps you’d like to outline for us, the citizens of this country, which agency is across law enforcement…is it An Garda Síochána or is it private security firms, who rock up in what reports say was a ‘UK-registered van which did not have a number plate on the front and had no tax or insurance’. Just so we know. Cheers.

 

Is Leo backing himself into a corner with that letter?

 

There’s nothing like a big family row to let the neighbours know you’re back from your holliers! And, that confidence and supply request letter from Leo to Micheál, which, in what I’d consider to be a highly provocative move, was published on social media, told us two things; one, Leo’s back from his trip down Self-Satisfied Lane, and two, Micheál, with true Fianna Fáil melancholic acerbity, told him to sling his hook! 

  Soooo, what’s da story folks, will we be going to the polls in the next few weeks or was Leo just trying to yank Micheál’s panic chain and test the waters?

  You see, as Leo’s ahead in the polls, he may be thinking Fine Gael is election-ready, what with their strategy, a list of willing, photo-op eager candidates and a manifesto (refer to eleven-page tweeted letter), longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of an early general election, and examine whether Leo’s backing himself into a corner, or indeed, if he’s just being very clever.

  Now, I’m no political reporter, and I’ve never pretended to be, but I believe if we have a general election early in the winter of 2019, (and January is always a bleak month), it’s likely Leo’s popularity points would plummet, given the annual hospital trolley waiting lists which are bound to soar, not to mention the homeless figures that are rising by the day, and sure throw March and Brexit into the mix and you’ve got Leo and the troops spiralling downwards into an acutely awkward situation – and you know what, I for one will have no sympathy for him; and this is why…

  Last week, proving you’re never too handsome to do something stupid, our leader, in typical ‘kick the can’ strategy, told us his carefully thought-out effort, nay cunning plan, to win over voters is to establish a new body called the Land Development Agency whose function it will be to build new homes, thus tackling the shameful housing crisis. So, on the basis of his previous performances, including this, more-plans-no-action manifesto, it’s clear our limelight-grabber and Taoiseach career-juggler leader, is, disappointingly, still dropping everything!

  Then again, some mistakes are just too much fun to make only the once, and, as we’ve had these failed quangos, oops, sorry agencies before, allowing past governments to hoodwink us by employing the typical Irish method of throwing money at a useless body in the hope it’ll deflect their stupidity, it’s up to us, the voters, not to fall into that trap again. We must insist our government issues a clear directive to local authorities to get out and build homes on the thousands of acres of vacant land, which we, the taxpayers already own. I mean, it’s probably the only solution to put an end to our chronic housing crisis!

  Oh and while you’re at it folks, when those TDs knock on your door, maybe you could ask them about their great rapid build blueprint of 2016? Or do you even remember that great housing hub solution? It was going to take two years to complete. Well apparently it’ll be 2020 before we see a completed house!  Look folks, hand on heart, I know sometimes I may seem as daft as a box of hair, but even I could knock up a quick build in less than four years!

 

Well done to all at Athleague National School…proud of you!

 

Last week’s edition featured the adorable pupils from Athleague National School who were showing their support for the campaign to keep Athleague Post Office open, and I’d like to say a massive well done to principal Avril Egan and her caring staff for taking the initiative to ask the children to compose individual letters to Communications Minister Denis Naughten in a bid to highlight why our rural post offices are so important to us all as a community. 

  One of those letters was written by the charming Mr. Patrick Ely, (10), and I have it on reliable terms, (lovely aunty Lucy), that young Patrick’s darling 91-year-old grandmother uses the threatened services of Athleague Post Office to collect her pension and pay her bills! Now, despite the fact that, due to their young age, Patrick and his peers are clearly emotionally unprepared to truly understand the hardships resulting from the closure of his local post office, nevertheless, his heartfelt letter is living proof that he’s a caring, articulate adult in the making; well done to his parents for doing such a great job!

  You see, refusing to allow a mandate from a powerful Minister to hold them back, Patrick and his pals from Athleague National School, asked our lovely Mr. Naughten to explain to them why this vital service must be axed, with this young man going so far as to try to invent solutions for a government who continuously insist there aren’t any. He does this by cleverly drawing attention to the other vital services in Athleague which he rightly believes will surely become negatively affected by the inevitable loss of footfall created by the post office’s closure.

  Well Patrick Ely, if you ever decide to run as a local independent candidate for public office, I’ll launch your campaign for you young man! And may I add, nicely done kids, you’re all a credit to your parents, your families and to your school.

 

Teach Aisling report shows we’re still failing on mental health provision

 

 

I want to raise a very important story, something which, in the hype surrounding Pope-mania, got conveniently buried last week.

  Now I’m sure the failure to notice this news item wasn’t intentional, but you see, not too far away from Knock, in Castlebar to be precise, a report concerning Teach Aisling, a HSE-run mental health facility, revealed ‘the nurses’ station had closed blinds and there was no other way patients who were desperate for water could get their attention,’ with a ‘water ban being imposed as a “punishment” for challenging behaviour regarding one resident’.

  This tells me that some of those in key roles are still outrageously abusing and neglecting our most vulnerable.

  I find it highly alarming that there are citizens of this country who are living in such dire situations where they are not just at risk of being abused and neglected, but who are, due to their illnesses and their emotional fragility, easy prey.

  I also find it alarming that it’s happening on our very doorstep and that it occurred down the road, if you like, from where Pope Francis led the Angelus prayer at the Marian Shrine in Knock.

  In addition, I assume (but I’m not certain and have absolutely no proof), that some of this contemptible abuse possibly falls just short of what the law would deem to be criminal behaviour, meaning the perpetrators may never be prosecuted by a court of law because, quite simply, their appalling actions will be characterised as being cases of gross misconduct.

  Now while I would stress that such serious incidents would remain rare across these HSE-run facilities, (which are, by and large of a high standard), nevertheless this latest report regarding Teach Aisling should raise many questions and, at the very least, reinforce the reality that a serious overhaul of our mental health care provisions needs to be established as a matter of urgency.

 

The joyless doom-merchants are targeting our tipple!

 

Well ladies, apparently we’re a load of boozy lushes! Yep, last week, a global study carried out by researchers at the University of Washington was published in the Lancet Medical Journal and shows that, when it comes to alcohol consumption, Irish women can drink men under the table. And, while this is not really something to be proud of, personally speaking, (and I’m no expert at drinking alcohol, nor am I medically trained), I think it’s a whole load of hype!

  You see, there’ll always be a few doom-merchants desperate to spread pessimism among us and I’d be of the opinion, that, as someone who tries to follow a healthy eating plan, who tries to walk regularly and who has never had a cigarette or any other substance pass my lips, enjoying a bottle of wine while relaxing at home with the hubby and the fur babies at the weekend will do me more good than it’ll ever do me harm.

  Sure I nearly choked on my G&T when I read the study’s joyless and uncompromising recommendations that ‘the safest level of drinking is none’. Ah now here! Look, I don’t know about you ladies, but I’m choosing to ignore these prophets-of-no-fun and instead take note of associate professor at Shandong University School of Public Health in China, Doctor Bo Xi’s 2017 report which found that research shows ‘that light-to-moderate drinking might have some protective effects against cardiovascular disease, while heavy drinking can lead to death’.  

  There you have it.  While there may well be no safe level of drinking, I believe there’s no safe level of doing anything! Look, even over-exercising can be risky. Didn’t the European Heart Journal study once suggest that ‘overdoing the fat-burning workout can also contribute to poor cardio health’? Now, as that revelation means no matter how much walking I do, I’m never gonna get that Baywatch bikini body, then I’m gonna need to drown my sorrows in a glass of vino. Sure technically it’s one of my five-a-day….it’s fruit, for cryin’ out loud!

  On a serious note girls, please, always drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation, and never, ever drink and drive! Sláinte mhaith!

Trump in turmoil…what’s new?

If I was in the business of dishing out advice, I’d be telling Sarah Huckabee Sanders to start looking for another job because the one she has doesn’t appear to have any visible future promotional prospects. In addition, I’d imagine having to stand up and face the media on an almost daily basis and spin a load of creative bull – refuting allegations made against her boss – won’t serve to improve her mental wellbeing, nor will it garner her many friend requests on FB.

  Look Sarah, I know Michael Cohen’s  admission to two criminal violations of campaign finance law implicating the POTUS are still, as I write, allegations, however love, people don’t usually admit to crimes they didn’t commit, and people don’t usually tell lies under oath, especially when they know they’re facing jail time.

  So…here’s my advice; update your CV and distance yourself from a president who is clearly in turmoil and instead, let Mueller do his work and let him see his investigations through because if I were also in the business of placing bets, I’d bet, come the mid-term November elections your boss will realise the one key sentence contained in Cohen’s testimony regarding the alleged hush money payments, i.e. ‘For the principal purpose of influencing the elections’ is probably gonna be the one that seals his downfall…ya heard it here first folks!

 

Scapegoating and scaremongering pregnant Irish women is cruel

It’s well-known that Dr. Eva Orsmond, right, is a weight loss expert. Sure we all remember the no-nonsense Finnish native wagging her perfectly manicured finger, shaking her judgemental blonde mane disapprovingly, and, in a voice that’d peel the enamel from your teeth, scold, reprimand and fat-shame those unfortunate Lycra-clad  contestants on RTE’s Operation Transformation some years ago.

  Well, now it seems as if the good doc has found herself in need of some much-hyped media exposure –and she got it. Last week, fine-tuning her calorie-counting diva persona, Dr. Eva turned her condescension towards pregnant Irish women, labelling those unfortunate enough to put on an extra few pounds as being delinquent offenders by saying, “It’s criminal for pregnant women to be overweight”. Ouch!

  Now while I watched the controversial, albeit professional Dr. Eva give her perspective to, (coincidentally), pregnant TV3 presenter Ciara Doherty live on the Ireland AM sofa, my first thought was, will this woman ever stop meddling in our lives? My second thought was unprintable!

  You see, it appears readers as though the trend to scaremonger and fat-shame Irish women is becoming more and more fashionable; I mean, it’s good for business after all, and experts like Dr. Eva have certainly made a lot of money over the years by telling us greedy gluttons how to drop some weight. Now while I do believe maintaining a healthy diet is important, whether you’re expecting a baby or not, picking on pregnant women is just cruel!

  Now I have absolutely no doubt Dr. Eva means well, and she has the nation’s health at heart, but her judgemental comments, where she effectively demonised mothers-to-be for having that extra piece of cake, has more than likely caused some to panic. And, while I’m no medical expert, I do know the risk of gestational diabetes is something that needs to be factored in if a pregnant woman does carry too much weight, so I’d advise anyone who is concerned not to be alarmed, but to speak with their family doctor for advice regarding their diet.

  Don’t listen to a diagnosis from a telly doc who makes it sound like any minute Greenpeace warriors will kick down your door, harpoon you with a tranquiliser dart and return you to your natural habitat because, (in her opinion), you look overweight. You’re not Moby Dick! You’re a beautiful pregnant Goddess who is about to give life, so don’t expose yourself and your unborn baby to the potentially damaging psychological effects of someone’s scaremongering; even if it is well intentioned.

  I do understand Dr. Eva’s perspective when she says “I have women coming to me with BMIs of over 30 who have been told to lose weight so they can fall pregnant”. And perhaps few will outshine her when it comes to telling us how to curtail what we place in our big, covetous gobs; and I’m certain many of her clients are grateful to the regimental disciplinarian for helping them achieve their personal goals. But I find it distasteful when she tells women desperate to conceive that, “there is no excuse for a young woman not to be a normal weight and have a BMI under 25!” And I personally don’t give a rat’s that she herself was “given a hard time by my gynaecologist in Finland, as I was 75kg giving birth. But in Ireland the attitude is softer, people are really worried and don’t want to upset the fragile pregnant woman”. Well you’re not in Finland now love and there’s a culture difference at play here…it’s called, we don’t scapegoat our pregnant women! Geddit? Whatever her credentials, impressive though they may be, one thing’s for sure, nobody will ever eclipse the lovely (albeit waspish) Dr. Eva in the egomania department!

 

Are my teeth brighter than the Church’s future in Ireland?

 

I know the Pope’s a good man, but, as leader of the Catholic Church, he should probably consider changing his PR representative because, (ahead of this weekend’s visit), I feel the Holy See’s use of empty words like ‘shame and sorrow’ to justify its feelings regarding the Pennsylvania child abuse scandal ain’t gonna cut it with Irish survivors of the perversions perpetrated by some so-called men of God.

  Now maybe the Vatican’s ‘shock-horror’ statement will assuage a few hard-core Catholics who probably feel it was okay for the Church to thwart investigations, deny and cover up sexual and physical persecution and harbour those pieces of slime responsible for the mistreatment and molestation of children and vulnerable women. And, in case anyone’s forgotten our own scandals readers, let me remind you of a few…The Tuam babies. The Magdalene laundries. The Ryan Report. The Cloyne Report, etc.

  So, while I’ve not lost my faith, (just my faith in the ‘institution’), I won’t be decking my home out in wacky Papal knick-knacks like bunting, flags, plates or cardboard Pope cut-outs, nor will I be making a pilgrimage to the Phoenix Park or to Knock. But best wishes to those readers who are. I sincerely hope you all enjoy a safe and fulfilling experience.

  However, if this weekend’s Papal visit is to be a success, I’d like to see His Holiness pledge a new and open Church, one that’ll investigate criminality, so that survivors can heal and move on. If not, I’m afraid it could be a case of my teeth being brighter than this Church’s future here in Ireland; and that’d be an utter shame for those of us who see the true value the Church holds in rural communities, and for those wonderful priests, right here in Roscommon, who are indeed genuine Christian men of God, totally committed to their vocation and who deserve our full support, appreciation and respect.

Paul’s win…you read it here first!

Regular readers may remember that it was this very publication (well it was me) who predicted the handsome and eligible Mr. Paul Clabby, a homegrown Roscommon man, would win the Escort of the Year 2018 title at this year’s Rose of Tralee festival! 

  Well call me Mystic Mir, dip me in honey and throw me to the tea-leaf readers,  but our man only went and did it! 

  Well done Paul, you’re a credit to d’mammy (and daddy) that reared ya. Absolutely delighted for you. You’ve certainly placed Roscommon on the international map. G’wan ya good thing!

 

 

 

Is homelessness the issue to challenge TDs on at ballot box?

Not that the government will lose any sleep over my opinion, but I’ll give it anyway. I believe the images of a Dublin mother, (she could just as easily have been from Roscommon), and her six children, (aged between one and 11 years) who were, due to their alleged homelessness, forced to sleep on plastic chairs at Tallaght Garda station showcases all the hallmarks of what I’d call the most egregious example of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s appallingly inefficient allocation of our financial resources. 

  Now, while I know this woman has received a backlash on social media for so-called lavish spending, and that her partner is reported by some publications as being ‘in prison awaiting trial since July,’ on an apparent ‘assault charge,’ my concern here, as a mother, is, quite honestly for the children’s plight.

It may seem harsh, but I don’t necessarily care about the welfare of the parents of these kids. You see, they’re adults – and they’re responsible for their own situations. I don’t even care about their status, i.e. whether they’re unemployed or in prison, whether they own an iPhone, whether they don’t look ‘homeless enough,’ or whatever the monopoly of stories currently doing the rounds allege; it’s all irrelevant to me because all I see are homeless kids; vulnerable kids and innocent, entirely faultless kids who don’t deserve to sleep rough, nor do they deserve to be the subjects of a story that has a major ‘clickable’ factor.

  This situation is wrong; especially in 2018 Ireland when our government is lavishing an estimated three million euro of taxpayers’ money providing security for the Pope’s visit later this month.

  Now I know thousands of readers will be making their way to see His Holiness, and I hope it proves to be a wonderfully enlightening ecumenical experience for them because the Holy Father and their faith plays a major part in their lives, and I would never, ever deny them this encounter. But, big picture here folks, while all children are the sole responsibility of their parents, and it’s not up to the State, i.e. you or me to provide for them, the notion that any child would be homeless due to lack of resources is sickening and it absolutely breaks my heart – as I know it also breaks many readers’ hearts.

  And, the sorry thing is, while this family’s plight sparked shock, horror, disgust and outrage across Ireland, I can tell you it will have absolutely no impact whatsoever in this government’s grand plan because this mother and her kids’ tragic situation is not unique; nor is it a big news story, rather it’s a nine-day wonder. You see, wasn’t it only last summer that 12 homeless families (including 30 kids, I believe) were forced to sleep in Garda stations across Ireland, causing us all to express repulsion before swiftly moving on.

  Due to that, I’m acutely aware this latest story will not prove a pivotal point, nor will it change our overall homeless picture. Now I don’t wish to embark on a misery safari, but the reason we’re in an atrocious shambles is squarely down to this (and former) governments making empty promises and ineffective decisions in order for them to achieve short-term political gain, as opposed to making sound long-term economic plans, rendering people like you and me to be constantly living close to the wire, day to day dangling precariously without the benefit of a safety net.

  Methinks it’s time this government was seriously challenged and the place to do that readers is on the doorsteps and at the ballot box!

 

Best of luck to our Eimear and our Paul

 

The frocky horror show, ooops, sorry, Rose of Tralee – an event in any social butterfly’s ‘must attend’ calendar – is upon us and I’d like to wish a huge ‘best of luck’ to our stunning representative, Roscommon Rose Eimear Reynolds. 

  Now I admit, as ‘the sun is declining’ over Roscommon, it’s unlikely I’ll be sitting in front of d’telly to binge-watch over the entire two nights of loveliness, Irish jigs and badly performed hip-hop routines as these ‘lovely and fair’ high-achieving cailiní deasa, without ever having a hint of cleavage on show, (well done), compete for the chance to be plucked from obscurity to become Mary, the Rose of Tralee!

  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not slagging the festival where non-Irish Roses are challenged to prove their oirishness, their regular attendance at Mass and their love of Barry’s tea. I really do think it’s a wonderful celebration of women, and that’s not just because the moorkishing gurus have brainwashed me.

  Look, while many may feel the festival is outdated, I believe anything that promotes, highlights, honours and commemorates our Irish culture on an international stage should always be showcased and I have no doubt whatsoever Eimear will do us proud. 

Well done also to handsome and eligible Roscommon escort Paul Clabby who I’m sure will be well able to cope with such demands as carrying the handbag – great training for when you marry, Paul – as well as being a chivalrous chaperone for his Rose. I think we’ve got the Rose of Tralee and the Escort of the Year 2018 nailed folks. Ádh mór to ya both!

 

 

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