Saturday, 19 April 2014

SEAMUS DUKE News Column

Is politics really about public service at all? 

Over a year into the term of the present government and the controversies are coming thick and fast. During the election campaign we were promised a new era in politics. The excesses that happened under Fianna Fail led governments over 14 years previously would be a thing of the past. Yeah, sure. 

  During the Household Tax campaign we found out that minister Phil Hogan had not paid his household charges on a luxury villa he owns in Portugal – yet he was threatening to jail people for not paying €100 here in Ireland. There have been several other instances of hypocrisy too but this week’s controversy with Health Minister Dr James Reilly is one of the biggest yet.

  Enda Kenny says that everything about Dr Reilly’s business dealings is 100% above board. How could that be the case? He failed to comply with a High Court Order and that’s why his name appeared in Stubbs Gazette.

However, even more worrying is the conflict of interest that this whole incident brings to light. Is it not strange that a Minister for Health has an interest in a  nursing home which would be subject to rules and regulations, and possible funding from the Department of Health? There have been 300 public nursing home beds closed this year. 

  Dr Reilly clearly has a financial interest in a private nursing home. I can say without fear of contradiction, that if this happened in the UK or in any other country Dr Reilly would be gone from the cabinet immediately. In Ireland we brazen things out, continue on and pass no heed, regardless of what we are accused of.

  We have the situation with the top bankers where not one of whom has been brought before the courts for what they did to the Irish economy. We saw the pictures of Sean Fitzpatrick dressed in his Irish gear in Poland staying at an  €800 per night hotel in recent weeks while the Irish taxpayer forks out €33 billion to bail out his failed bank.

  But he is not alone. There are several other people involved in the banking industry who got away with murder, and who are swanning around the country laughing as the taxpayers fork out almost €100 billion to fix the mistakes that they made. We have the spectacle of big business people and developers who have run rings around the authorities hiding money and setting up dodgy foreign companies to dodge tax and they are still living the high life. Some are been being paid €200,000 per year by the taxpayer to keep their businesses afloat.

  It was pointed out to Enda Kenny on Monday that a report out this week has shown that one million people in this country have about €100 per month to spend after all their bills have been paid. His reply was typical of the arrogance being shown to the ordinary people of the country by ‘official Ireland’. He said that Irish people had to face up to their responsibilities and the €3.5 billion in cuts in Budget 2012 were going ahead as planned. As long as we get a pat on the head from Angela Merkel and the IMF every so often we are very happy here. Never mind the 450,000 people on the dole or the fact that the domestic economy is on its knees.

  People often say ‘sure they are all the same’ when it comes to politics. It often draws a very angry response from some politicians. I am sure that there are some politicians who are trying to do the best they can, but they are in the minority. Politics is not about public service. It’s about getting re-elected and anyone who says any different is not telling the truth.


Frank pens song on emigration 

Roscommon People columnist Frank Brandon has written a song called ‘Dublin Airport’ which is out on CD this week. It is sung by Paschal Brennan. It’s a ballad and all about the scourge of emigration. It’s out on release now and the proceeds will go toward Cancer Care West and the Lourdes Invalid Fund. 

  If you have a few bob please support those worthy causes. Maybe this will open up a whole new career for Frank. The retirement of Westlife has left a void that Frank might be able to fill!


Congratulations, Molloy’s 

I was away for a couple of weeks and I missed the 90th anniversary celebration of Molloy’s Bakery in Roscommon town. If Ireland is to emerge from this terrible recession it is local family-run firms like Molloy’s that will lead the way. 

  This business has grown over the years and they are a very good local employer. The business is going from strength to strength and the Molloy family deserve great praise for the way they have grown and expanded, especially over the past 15 years or so.


Phoenix Park concerts controversy 

There has been much controversy and comment about events at the concert at the Phoenix Park on Saturday night. I have spoken to people who were in the Park on Friday night and Sunday night too, and there was hardly one unruly incident on those nights, however it was on Saturday night that the trouble took place. 

  The bands who were playing on Saturday would have attracted a younger audience and that’s why there were problems. I enjoy a few drinks as much as anyone else but there is now a culture whereby younger people don’t ever sit down and have a couple of drinks and a chat. They want to get instantly bombed out of their minds as quickly as possible. That’s a major problem. 

  Some of the most enjoyable nights I have ever had (and hopefully will have) involve going into a bar and having a few jars and good-humoured conversation with friends. However for many young people that’s not how they drink. They swallow neat vodka, whiskey and other shorts as much as they can drink – sitting on the side of the road or at home. And they get out of their minds in a matter of an hour or even less. They drink to get drunk and not to enjoy it. 

  What can be done? It’s hard to know to be honest. There is no doubt that alcohol is more readily available than it ever was before so maybe something could be done about that. We have heard a lot of drastic suggestions and knee-jerk reaction since the weekend and this problem of binge drinking among teenagers has to be addressed. But the vast majority of people I know go for a few drinks and a bit of craic and go home without bothering anyone. We have to remember that too. 

  Oh and by the way, for those people who have got so hot under the collar about what happened on Saturday night, cast your minds back 27 years to the Bob Dylan concert in Slane in 1984. Look up what happened then. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but there was extreme violence, drug-taking and excessive alcohol abuse at that gig too.


Our ambulance service

A few weeks ago I attended a press briefing in the County Hospital arranged by Marie Gillooly and her forum group to explain to the pubic what ambulance services are available to the people at the present time. 

  The briefing was given by the very impressive Paudie O’Riordan and I have to say that I was very encouraged with what I heard. There is no doubt that these people are very professional and know what they are about. 

  At the end of the briefing I asked Mr O’Riordan could he do with more resources and although he made light of the question and it wasn’t his area, it was clear that he could do with more staff and equipment. The full report on what was said on the day was published in this newspaper two weeks ago and the facts are that seriously ill people in County Roscommon will be brought to Galway, Mullingar, Castlebar, Sligo or Dublin hospitals. That’s the reality. 

  It was also clear that, despite what the politicians have claimed, no decision has been made with regard to the ambulance base in West Roscommon. I was very impressed with Mr O’Riordan and the way that the ambulance service is run and it is a comfort to people to know that the service is professional and efficient. Resources is one thing that Mr O’Riordan and his staff have no control over.


Bumper weekend in Roscommon town 

This will be a big weekend in the county and the county town with the national focus falling on Roscommon on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, Tyrone will be in town to play Roscommon seniors and there should be in the region of 5,000 people at that game. 

  Then on Sunday over 20,000 people will be in the town for the Connacht senior and minor finals. It is a welcome boost to the local economy and let’s hope that the weather is good and that everyone enjoys their day out. 

  There has been plenty of work carried out at Dr Hyde Park this week and the venue is resplendent and lets hope everything goes off well at the weekend. Two Roscommon wins would also be nice! 


And finally….

I received the following text on Monday……….now that the Ulster Bank are the sponsors of the All-Ireland senior football championship, the results of last weekend’s games will be available on Thursday week!



Issue dated: 13 JULY 2012
© Roscommon People