Log in
From the kitchen table

From the kitchen table

Leo goes and spoils it all by saying something stupid…

 

 

 

Last month marked the two-year anniversary of the date Leo Varadkar, right, was elected to high office, becoming the fourteenth Taoiseach of Ireland. And, even though the elevation to power of a young, openly gay, son of an immigrant hailed a new and tolerant era for a country which has, thankfully, grown tired of its one-time discriminatory, old-fashioned ways of the past, part of me remains concerned about his appointment. You see, I’m not sure if it’s down to the humidity or just plain stupidity, but it appears our Leo never ceases to miss a good opportunity to say something daft.

  Now, don’t get me wrong, none of us are perfect. And I’ll be first to admit, I’ve said some pretty stupid things. However, one of the greatest attributes of getting oneself elected to public high office is having the gift of the gab. Indeed, choosing one’s words carefully, and speaking with knowledge, passion and compassion are all part and parcel of being a first-class world leader. In fact, you could say, given the ridiculous things some of our former Taoisigh have uttered, when it comes to the art of communications, the bar is really not set that high for our Leo. And yet, strangely, almost as if it were a force of habit, instead of raising it, he just limbos right underneath it.

  Look, we all remember Bertie and laughed at the way in which he managed to mangle the English language, especially when he once described a gangland incident as a “fly-past shooting”. Bertie’s also on record as saying he wasn’t going to be “upsetting the apple tart” and he advised people to “stop throwing white elephants and red herrings at each other”. Now, while all of these little Bertie bloopers proved to be a highly amusing set of malapropisms, I have to say Leo’s gaffes are more cringeworthy, than they are funny. Take his latest clanger for example where, the day before he was scheduled to meet up with church leaders, the Fine Gael leader crassly compared Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to a “secretly sinning priest”.

  Now let me say that I am not a practising Catholic, rather I choose to engage in the parts of my religion that best suit me. Therefore, I’ve taken absolutely no offence whatsoever regarding Leo’s remarks. And, while I believe that from the point of view of a positive spin, Leo’s comments were enormously inappropriate, unlike Independent TD Mattie McGrath, I am far from being “horrified”. Yes, Leo wounded and offended a lot of people, but he didn’t really mean to launch an attack on the country’s main religion. Nor did his words, as Mattie so dramatically decried, hail the onset of an “open season on the Catholic Church” policy. Honestly Mattie love, do get a grip snowflake. Sure it’s as if you’re tripping over yourself to become offended these days. However, I would definitely agree with Independent Roscommon-Galway TD Michael Fitzmaurice’s more balanced views where he’s quoted as saying that “If this (Leo’s remark), was said about any other church or group in society, there would be uproar”. And he’s right. There would be, pardon the pun, hell to pay for the simple reason there are many religions that would go ballistic and probably declare war on anyone who so mercilessly ridiculed their clerical representatives.

  So, while I believe Leo’s comments were unfortunate, poorly timed and highly inappropriate, I also believe they were delivered in the heat of the moment by an over-excited individual who really should know better. That said though, I do feel our leader’s disparaging comments were, on a personal level, highly unfair to Catholic priests. I do know there are many wonderful priests, especially those living among us in rural communities, who go way above and beyond their duties in an effort to serve their flocks. And, while certain scandalous acts perpetrated by some men-of-the-cloth in the past have been well documented, Leo’s stigmatising denouncement of all priests as a group, is not only cutting as it is immature, but dare I suggest it, his statement last week could also be construed as being highly defamatory.

 

Gender neutral uniforms offer kids more choice

I’d imagine parents everywhere are bracing themselves for the long queues to buy the kids’ back-to-school stuff. However, I wonder, when kitting the kids out for their uniforms, how many Roscommon parents think that purchasing skirts for the boys and trousers for the girls is a good idea? I only ask given St. Brigid’s National School in Greystones, County Wicklow’s recent announcement regarding their all-inclusive initiative to introduce a gender neutral school uniform policy.

  Look, as far as I’m concerned, school should be a place where kids feel happy and comfortable, where they can be themselves without fear of being bullied or being treated as an outcast. And, if that means that some children feel their identities are better expressed by wearing certain items of clothing, albeit ones that are in line with the school’s policy, then sure where’s the harm in that? I mean, it’s not really that radical a move, now is it; rather it’s about offering students more choice and not pigeonholing those kids who may feel confused about who they are, into specific gender stereotypes.

  No child is born homophobic. No child is born with a discriminatory bone in their body. However, as they grow and develop, it is my belief that they do form and adopt certain hostile attitudes, (which can often prove to be prejudicial), from other influences such as us, their parents, their peers and from society as a whole. Therefore, through exposing our children to a less restricting and more tolerant and humane perspective, we, as parents and educators are not opening them up to hate and homophobia, instead we are helping them to create a culture of acceptance, and that has got to be good for everyone, now hasn’t it?

 

Alleged thermal pollution at Lough Ree is worrying

 

I don’t know about you readers, but news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating what I’d deem to be a serious issue at the Lough Ree power plant, leading to a suspension of operations, has got me concerned about our wildlife and our marine life. I’m no expert but it doesn’t take one to know that the effects of thermal discharges on freshwater fish and our wildlife can greatly affect their reproductive cycles, wreaking havoc on their very survival. Let’s hope the situation is brought under control as a matter of urgency. Water is our most precious asset, and we must reduce the risk of it being polluted…for all our sakes!

 

 

Why are Brits obsessed with blustering Boris?

 

 

 

As the blustering, bumbling blond bombshell Boris Johnson measures up the windows for curtains and the floors for carpets at 10 Downing Street, I have to wonder if, like the US, ego-led politics has also become  the order of the day in the UK. I only ask because it appears that Britain, having been led, (kinda) by what appears to have been a steady and desperate-to-please  Theresa May, is now worryingly on course to elect the man who was once dumped from his job as a journalist with The Times newspaper for allegedly ‘fabricating quotes’. Now, given his colourful domestic life, (and bearing in mind he represents a party that continuously toots its family values horn), I’ve no doubt Boris will provide us columnists with plenty of attention-grabbing headlines. Meaning, while his tenure won’t be dull, it may certainly prove dangerous for those of us living on this side of the water. Then again, the philanderer-in-chief could unexpectedly prove to be our new BFF!

  Estranged from wifey number two, the man with more bounce than Zebedee (for younger readers, he’s the Jack in the box from The Magic Roundabout), has, as we know, recently become embroiled in a public domestic with his girlfriend. This incident has rendered the face of Brexit’s ‘leave’ campaign to become the subject of headlines after nosey curtain twitchers, sorry, concerned neighbours, upon hearing raised voices, had the presence of mind to record the row through their adjoining wall. They then dialled 999! For the record, nothing was found to be amiss. However, since the incident, the loved-up pair have spent every waking moment publicly pledging their love and devotion to each other. Pass the puke bucket please.

  So, due to all of the above, Ireland, indeed, the rest of Europe, has now become preoccupied with Boris and his domestic situation; much in the same way we’ve all  been caught up with Trump and his dalliances. Indeed, there’s not a day goes by that some social commentator is not moaning about self-serving opportunist Boris, his messy private life, and his unsuitability for the big job in the big house. And yet, despite all of the kerfuffle and the, let’s say, impropriety, with old BJ being alleged to have fathered a child, (possibly more), outside of marriage, with him both writing and saying some gravely offensive things about minorities, the man continues to remain strangely popular. In fact, only last week, even as it was reported that the Foreign Office managed to persuade the BBC to edit out a comment from a documentary where BJ, (come on, it’s short for Boris Johnson…keep up), allegedly dubbed the French as being “turds,” – très embarrassant – fans, who seem to eat up his tasteless tirades, were still supporting this tactless old Etonian toff. I must say that when pressed over his alleged vulgar remark, the PM-in-waiting did say he had “no recollection” of the comment. Comme c’est pratique! Then again, I’ll bet he won’t remember that, upon leaving his alma mater, when asked to document their aspirations in life, as some of Boris’ fellow students quoted poetry, the over-excited enfant terrible allegedly wrote that his dream was…wait for it…‘To secure more notches on my phallocratic phallus’.

  Mind you, word is that car maker Vauxhall, who has a French owner, and who gives employment to approximately one thousand Brits, are delaying a decision on building the new Astra until they see how Brexit is going. Clearly they’re not fans of blustering Boris. Now, as the situation is looking extremely serious with a no-deal scenario seeming likely, if I were BJ’s PR guru girlfriend, (in his dreams), and wanted to grace the halls of Downing Street, instead of smashing the crockery, (allegedly), I’d be advising him to stop sounding like he’s reading from a Father Ted script. I’d warn him to stop being a tabloid sensation, and urge him to get something for what could prove be a highly fatal case of foot-in-mouth disease. 

 

Vive la rainbow revolution…but let’s not ignore our most vulnerable and our voiceless!

 

Our country played host to its biggest and most colourful Pride parade last Saturday, the theme of which was Rainbow Revolution. I was delighted to see   members of An Garda Síochàna, Macra na Feirme and the GAA, as well as many senior politicians, making their debut appearances, as they stood loud, proud and in solidarity with their friends and families.

  The entire event instilled me with a wonderful noble and pure, live-and-let-live vibe; showcasing the bright and the beautiful side of our country.

  However, on the other side of the city, indeed, across the entire country, peaceful protests, attended by passionate and humane animal welfare advocates, were taking place in order to highlight the darker side of our society. I’m talking about the scandal that is our unscrupulous and cruel greyhound racing and coursing industry.

  Look, I’m not going to use my column as a soapbox to preach; regular readers know how much I adore and advocate for all animals and their welfare. However, I will say that, following RTE’s ground-breaking and heartbreaking documentary ‘Running for their Lives’ I’ve been approached by a great number of you caring Rossies, (including those admitting to enjoying the  ‘odd flutter on the dogs’) expressing their utter outrage and horror, telling me they were totally ignorant to the plight of some of our greyhounds.

  Now, scandalous and eye-opening though this expose was, sadly its content was not news to me. But this week, I have to do something I don’t often do, and that is congratulate RTE on a difficult but balanced job well done. In making this documentary, RTE has exposed the extensive and systemic brutality inflicted on these gentle creatures on a daily, often hourly basis. Indeed folks, the torture begins for these puppies the very second they’re born, with an astonishing 6,000 greyhounds inhumanely slaughtered annually for committing the simple crime of being too slow, with certain Irish, let’s call them, ‘enterprises,’ despicably terminating their lives for just €10 a dog.

  So, while The Good Country Index has ranked Ireland as being ‘among the most humane countries in the world,’ I’d have to wonder if they looked at the barbaric way in which we treat our vulnerable and our voiceless animals. When it comes to Irish greyhounds, it appears that despite the fact that the Greyhound Racing Act 2019, (signed into law last month) gives the Irish Greyhound Board, (IGB) greater powers to make regulations for the traceability of greyhounds, I fear that Ireland’s concept on animal welfare will forever remain pathetically poor. Putting in place any animal welfare act and not enforcing it and then acting shocked and outraged in public when cruelty is exposed, yet still supporting it and providing it with €16.8 million in taxpayers’ money, (this year alone), doesn’t showcase concern, rather it smacks of hypocrisy and culpability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We teach them how to tie their shoelaces…but have we taught them how to empathise?

 

 

It was a murder that made absolutely no sense, nor did it hold any logic or coherence. An event so unprecedented in the history of the State, and hugely traumatic for the three families involved, it also proved to be sickeningly distressing for the entire country as a whole. How on earth could two 13-year-old children murder another child in such a predatory and brutal fashion? How could one of those murderers not only have 12,000 obscene and disgusting images downloaded onto two mobile phones, but how and why didn’t anybody know?

  Now, in a week filled with uproar and anger aimed at the lunacy of certain individuals who broke the law by illegally posting information online regarding the alleged identities of the two convicted teens, I have to say, given the sickening details of the case, I do understand why feelings are running high. However, let me stress that, in compliance with The Children Act 2001, the convicted must not be exposed to ‘avoidable intimidation, humiliation or distress’. So, rein it in folks and instead, hold the beautiful Ana Kriegel’s memory deep in your hearts, and please allow justice to take its natural course.

  It is for this reason, instead of keeping the spotlight on the two murderers and how the verdict will negatively affect their lives, (because I honestly don’t care about them), I’d like instead to keep a focus on their victim, the little lady who could have been anybody’s daughter. The vulnerable and much-adored child whose life these two so cruelly and so mercilessly terminated in order to satiate their own sickening perversions.

  Seemingly friendless and socially isolated from her peers, it’s clear that Ana’s parents loved their adopted daughter beyond words. Indeed, the Kreigals were enormously proud of their remarkably beautiful statuesque teen, whom we’ve learned was more mature and more sensitive than many of her contemporaries. Due to Ana’s unique qualities, I’d imagine that jealous, malicious bullies singled her out as being ‘strange’. Indeed, (in the words of one of the accused), Ana, who was just two years’ older than my own granddaughter, and, whom, like most young teens, loved to sing and dance, was sickeningly compartmentalised as being “a weirdo,” who wore “kind of slutty” clothes and “looked like she wanted people to look at her”.

  Well readers, these statements clearly indicate to me that, even in the face of evidence being stacked against the accused duo – indeed, proof, showing clear culpability – it’s obvious that bare-faced and blatant victim-blaming remained a constant undercurrent in this horrific crime. In short, Ana was viewed as not only being vulnerable, but as somehow deserving of her fate. To those who stole her life, this powerless, emotionally frail young lady was nothing more than an object. A thing to be sexually assaulted, brutally beaten and callously abandoned among a pile of discarded condom wrappers, broken bottles and other decaying pieces of filth.

   As a result of my psychology training, I know, and understand, that children who murder other children may themselves have been neglected, abused and/or have experienced a turbulent home life. However, I’m not suggesting whatsoever that this was the situation here. Indeed, let me stress, during this high profile case we heard how these two boys were ‘well-mannered’, coming from ‘normal’ middle-class families who’re held in high esteem. Of course there was nothing normal about the abuse and murder of Ana. 

  Truth be told, there was something distinctly barbaric and bloodthirsty in the method in which they not just robbed this child of her innocence, but also of her life. And, as information regarding the Gardaí’s interviews was released, it became clear that Ana was seen by her murderers as someone who was disposable, as someone without any friends, and, as someone they could reject, humiliate and finally, use as a target and an outlet for their sick, voracious and violent perversions.

  As parents, we play a vitally important role in teaching our kids to know and understand when they’ve been unkind and when they’ve hurt others. We have a duty to educate them how to have empathy. Tragically, it appears for those who bullied, brutalised and murdered Ana, this cognitive and compassionate emotion was not so much lacking, rather it was clearly missing altogether. Now this could mean that both boys experienced some sort of, (let me suggest) ‘mind sickness’ disturbingly diminishing their natural abilities to be humane and compassionate to a beautiful young girl who was desperate to fit in. Or it could mean that their parents, (who may well be good people), didn’t properly communicate their expectations regarding their kids’ moral development. Who knows? Either way, a child is dead and two children are incarcerated for her murder. I wish for Ana’s beautiful, gentle soul to rest in peace and for her parents to heal and recover from the trauma of their heart-breaking and intense loss. I’m also mindful of the acute distress this heinous crime has brought upon the convicted boys’ families and my thoughts are with all involved, (including the Gardaí), at this painful time.

 

Maura…make the most of  this fleeting opportunity at fame!

 

Toned, tanned, and on d’telly would be how I’d sum up the cast of Love Island! Now that’s without ever watching a single minute of a show whereby the contestants’ survival depends entirely on not just being part of a couple, but one that’s deemed by the viewing masses to be aesthetically appealing.

  Now let me say, I’d rather stick bamboo shoots up my nails than watch this type of tripe. However, given the constant media coverage of the participants, who’re all, by the way, remarkably endowed with impossibly perfect bodies, (nope, not a minger among them), I’ve been able to keep up to speed with the goings-on both in front of the cameras and, er, under the sheets.

  This leads me nicely to local-girl-from-small-town-made-good Maura Higgins, whose antics have generated quite a lot of personal snipes, dubbing her ‘a sexual predator’ and a ‘man eater,’ prompting some readers to stop me and ask about my own take on the Longford lovely.

  Now, as I don’t know Maura at all, it’d be impossible, (and wrong) of me to form an opinion of her based purely on that perilous popsicle-sucking incident. Oooh, me nerves! What I will do though, is offer her some motherly advice and say…feck the begrudgers love…you’re playing a blinder. Make the most of this fleeting opportunity at fame and don’t you dare melt into the background when this sham show’s bubble bursts. And, when the malicious hatemongers hawk their stories to the meeja, remember hon, you were placed in an artificial situation, indeed, manipulated for other people’s amusement, and, rather than sink into the scenery, you excelled and you did your family proud. Good on ya girl!

 

Cervical smear scandal is what happens when the ‘system’ puts cost over quality

 

 

Well folks, you know it’s a slow news week when stories like Trump’s mouthpiece Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ intention to vacate her role as White House Press Secretary and the great Irish ‘motor-insurance rip-off’ revelation generates surprise, speculation and debate among social commentators. I mean, you don’t need to be Mystic Meg to know the writing was on the wall for the woman who appeared to try and condition the public into thinking that journos are the enemy of the people. You also don’t need to be Einstein to know that, when it comes to motor insurance fees, this country’s practice and approach is a complete joke. It has long been documented that drivers, including me, are being hit with such preposterous premiums, it stood to reason the industry’s profits would sky-rocket from €16 million in 2016 to €227 million in 2017! So, no bombshell revelations there.

  However, what did shock me to the core was Dr. Gabriel Scally’s latest disturbing findings relating to the ongoing CervicalCheck controversy. You see, when Dr. Scally was initially brought on board to carry out a scoping inquiry into what went wrong with the health screening programme, he was told there were six laboratories involved in reading the slides. However, due to the Doc and his team’s excellent investigative skills, it has now transpired that a staggering sixteen laboratories were involved in the overall process. Now, worrying though this is, what’s actually more alarming is the fact that the HSE, the National Cancer Screening Programme and CervicalCheck allege they had absolutely no clue that this was going on! Really? How very odd! Now, while Dr. Scally did reassure us that he and his team “have not come across anything that would indicate to us that there are quality failures in any systematic way,” in relation to these previously undiscovered labs, as far as I’m concerned, that’s got to be cold comfort to the women unfortunate enough to be affected by this travesty.

  Look, as this stage, I want to urge readers to keep a focus on the fact that health screening programmes, while they’re not diagnostic, are both vital and lifesaving. Nonetheless, they’re only effective if a proper set of protocols are put in place. And I’m afraid,  it’s clear, given these disturbing findings, when it comes to women’s health in this country, in this particular instance those protocols were not in place, and not only was due diligence ignored, but safeguards appear to have also been totally disregarded. I mean, you only need to look at the fact that one lab, which allegedly tested over ninety thousand slides, was only accredited retrospectively. As it stands, I have very little confidence in a regime that enters a ‘shock-horror-please-pity-us. Sure-we-were-clueless. Those-deceitful-labs-never-disclosed-that-part-of-their-practice-was-to-outsource-work’ as some pathetic line of defence. The HSE bigwigs need to stop gambling with women’s health, and, instead of anchoring their decisions on cost, they should start focusing on quality.

  It stands to reason folks, if our so-called health service is tendering out work to organisations, the result of which can be a case of life or death, the absolute least they could do is know that this organisation’s personnel are up to scratch, can actually carry out the specific work they’re paying them for, that they know who these people are, and vitally, they know where they are. The women of Ireland have an absolute right to know three things…where our cervical smear slides are being sent, if the information we are being provided with is accurate, and that those tasked with providing that information can stand confidently over it.

Family homelessness is a plague that has spread nationwide

Well folks, it appears that family homelessness has hit an unprecedented high. And no, this is not just a big city epidemic; this is a plague so highly virulent, it has spread nationwide. This tells me that we are now witnessing a situation whereby our government is  tolerating a structure that sees families, (like yours and mine), being forced into leaving long-term rental accommodation because their private landlord has either moved on or changed his/her mind with regard to their property, etc.

  Now that’s not just my opinion. These are the findings of Focus Ireland, whose Director of Advocacy Mike Allen, while speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland last week, revealed ‘the homelessness crisis is taking place in the private rented sector’.

  So, one minute you’re renting a beautiful house; one where you’ve lovingly decorated, and where you felt happy and secure enough to call it your home. Indeed, a haven where you’ve integrated yourself and your family into the friendly local community, where you’ve enrolled the kids in schools and established yourself in a job. Then suddenly, out of the blue, you get the call telling you to leave, rendering you terrified you’ll end up living on the side of the road.

   Now this is no fairy story folks, rather it is – tragically – the case for many hundreds of families whom, through no fault of their own, and whom, despite having a decent income, are unable, for various reasons, to get a mortgage. However, these families are able to afford to pay rent. Indeed, they not only religiously pay that rent on time; they lovingly take care of the landlord’s property as if it were their very own. Now I am not, and would not, tar all landlords with the same brush. As we know, while there are disreputable ones, there are also excellent decent ones spread right across this county. In fact our own landlord is a gentleman. But the sad fact for many renters, i.e. those who have been, and who currently are, in successful residencies, (and the Focus Ireland stats back this us), is that they can often find themselves left at the mercy of their landlord’s whims and are sometimes given insufficient notice to vacate a property. When this happens, not only are families/couples left without somewhere safe and secure to lay their heads, but their entire life also begins to fall apart. And, if a relocation means that jobs and school placements are put at risk, then the onset could mean a possible breakdown in an entire family’s mental health, wellbeing and structure. I tell ya folks, when this State places its citizens in a precarious situation where they cannot find a place to call home and where government policy is to ignore the desperate need to build houses, then it’s my opinion that we’ve not just lost the battle for a roof over our heads, we’ve catastrophically lost the entire war for our basic human rights. I don’t know about you readers, but for me, this is definitely not good enough. 

 

Up the Rossies!

The county is on a high this week, and it’s all down to the new Connacht champions and their spectacular second-half comeback! Comhghairdeas lads. You did yourselves and your county proud.

 

 

Tainting areas as being socially deprived leads to dehumanisation

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Trump is unpopular, but what if we need him?

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Madonna: The blonde that’s never bland!

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Should parents pay the price for kids’ bad behaviour?

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s in your hea-ad Leo?

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Rossies showcasing their very best

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Give our frontline Gardaí  24-hour armed support

 

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

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

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

 

Restaurants are not adventure playgrounds

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

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

 

Subscribe to this RSS feed