Log in

A day to remember at The Green!

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Monday afternoon and out here in Creggs we are recovering from one of the most amazing weekends that our little village has ever seen, with Saturday’s official opening of three new Creggs Rugby pitches, the unveiling of a fantastic new stand, and new electronic scoreboard. Throw in a host of rugby matches involving players of every age, shape and size, which went on all day and which featured more than 400 underage players.

  My good friend, Jack the Lower, told me he had never seen as many people in the village before. Now Jack’s memory goes back to the great days (or nights) of the Creggs Carnivals, and he told every parking place in the area was taken up from early morning right though the whole day!

  I’ve told you before that work is a huge inconvenience in my life, and so, even though I now only have to go in on Fridays and Saturdays, Saturday was a problem, and so I didn’t get to any of the earlier festivities. I did, however, arrive in time for the big local derby, when our first team took on Buccaneers from Athlone. The crowd was absolutely huge, and what made it even better was the fact that the game lived up to the sense of occasion, and Creggs kept up their end by winning on a scoreline of 38-21.

  The funny thing was that at half-time you would nearly think it was all over, with our lads leading 31-7, and, in fact, my brother, the Rasher, was going to head back to Ennis at the interval. However, wise old heads like Billy and me (maybe not that wise) told him to hold fire, as we just knew Buccs would come roaring back into it, and sure enough after only 15 minutes of the second half they had scored two converted tries, and the lead was down to ten.

  The Rasher stayed, and it was nip and tuck until the finish, but towards the end prop forward Tom Fleming careered through the visitors’ defence, produced a mesmeric sidestep (or was it a speed wobble?) to wrong-foot the last defender, and score a wonderful winning try.

  Now there has been many a good try scored in Creggs over the last 45 years, but the five they scored on Saturday were all just incredible and they would have brightened up any game at even the highest level. For the record, they were all scored by mountain men, so in case it never happens again the scorers were Shane Dowd (2), his brother Ronan, Kevin Gavin and the aforementioned twinkle-toes Tom Fleming. Any one of them would be a candidate for the try of any season but, partly because he sometimes plays golf with me and Duff, but more so because of Shane Purcell’s exquisite chip and the speed with which it was gathered and finished, I think Ronan Dowd’s score ranks with the best I’ve ever been fortunate enough to see. It will live long in the memory of all of us lucky enough to witness it.

 

Celebrating 45 years of Creggs RFC

 

 

After the rugby action last Saturday it was a rush home to put on our finery, paint and powder the face (Carol, not me), and head to the Abbey Hotel, where upwards of 250 people attended Creggs’ 45th anniversary. I think it was one of the most enjoyable functions I have ever been at.

  There was the usual number of speeches, including one by one of the most influential figures in women’s world rugby, Trien native Su Carthy, who is Ireland’s representative on the World Women’s Council. I have to admit that her list of achievements is mindboggling, and I, for one, was unaware of the enormity of the position that she holds in World Rugby.

  Since 2009, when she was appointed as the first World Rugby Women’s Development Manager, she has been instrumental in promoting women’s rugby, and over the ten years under her watch women went from comprising 4% of the world’s playing population to now making up a quarter of the total. It was wonderful to have a person of such stature address us.

  Su was followed by another extraordinary speaker, Fergus Farrell, a former Monivea rugby player, who suffered an extremely serious injury less than a year ago when he was lifting heavy machinery in his yard in Athenry.

            I won’t go into the details, but Fergus was told his chances of ever walking again were extremely low, so to see him walk into the ballroom in the Abbey Hotel was remarkably inspiring and he too proved a wonderful speaker.

  When our own club great, Adrian Leddy, had his retirement do in Hannon’s Hotel a few weeks ago, he organised a collection to go to a fund Fergus set up to buy new equipment for the NRH (National Rehabilitation Centre) and the proceeds of that collection (€1,500) was presented to Fergus on the night as well.

  The last of the outside speakers was Johnny Carr from Tuam, representing the Connacht Branch and from Creggs we had Michael Ward, on behalf of sponsors Ward & Burke, Ger Dowd, coach of the 1994 All-Ireland winning women’s team (who were honoured on the night), Club President Aidan Farrell, and yours truly, who represented the 1989 double winning team, who were also honoured on the night. 

  Anyway, after a superb dinner, it was time for the festivities and despite my exceptional dancing skills, I stayed away from the dance floor, met up with loads of past and present club stalwarts, marvelled at the journey our little club has gone on, revelled in the fact that I was one of the five (Jack the Higher and Lower, the Rasher, my brother Dec, and the Gunner, Jim O’Roarke the others) that came up with the idea of forming a rugby club 45 years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed a wonderful night.

  What the future holds for Creggs RFC no-one knows, but right now it’s in a really good place, and we can only hope it continues onwards and upwards for many years to come. Certainly it looks good, and with the two Brians, Diffley and Coady, captaining the two adult teams, it’s safe to say we are in safe hands.

 

Finally for this week…

Finally for this week, it’s that time of year again, and Mary Kelly tells me the best social occasion of the year, the Senior Citizens’ Party, is coming up on Sunday, December 8th in St. Mary’s Hall, Kilbegnet, and everyone is welcome!

  It all kicks off at 2 pm and there will be loads of music, food, drink and craic, and she wants to see you all there. I have yet to get to it, but I am definitely qualified age-wise, so maybe I might make it this time.

  I will remind you again next week, but put the date in your diary and you can look forward to an outing to remember!

 

 Till next week, Bye for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only Leo or Simon can save Cuisle now

 

 

 

 

I was very proud of the people of Roscommon last Saturday when they turned out in huge numbers to support the efforts to save the Cuisle holiday centre in Donamon. Apart from the 45 or so people who will lose their jobs (a huge blow for the area), this amenity is loved by the people who use it and over the past week or so we have heard of their experiences in Donamon over the years.

  However, while it was really uplifting to see such a big crowd there on Saturday, and it was equally satisfying to hear the passion in the speeches of everyone who spoke, I am very pessimistic about the chances of this campaign being a success.

  We have had several major public protests in the past here in Roscommon and the powers that be have not passed the slightest bit of heed on them. As far as I can see, the only thing that will change the minds of the Irish Wheelchair Association on this issue is if Simon Harris or Leo Varadkar step in and tells them to stall or reverse their decision. Minister Finian McGrath seems to have no say at all and the board of the IWA are oblivious to the strength of public opinion here in Roscommon. In fact, they couldn’t care less about the views of people here.

  Minister McGrath has actually endorsed the decision taken by the IWA (to close Cuisle), so, given those circumstances, it will be very difficult to prevent this closure proceeding this Friday.

  It is desperately frustrating to hear stories like that of the printer in the Houses of the Oireachtas which will have cost over €1m by the time it is in operation. That is pretty close to the sum that is needed to carry out the necessary refurbishments at Cuisle.

  I am full of admiration for the people in the community in Donamon and surrounding areas for their passion and commitment to the ‘Save Cuisle’ cause, but it won’t be enough. At the end of the day, there’s a political dimension to all of this and unless a political decision is made to ensure the closure is averted, it’s curtains for Cuisle.

  What our politicians have to do now is to lobby the Minister for Health and the Taoiseach to get involved – or else this cause will be lost. The minimum requirement would be for the decision to be put on hold for at least 12 months to give breathing space for the refurbishment work to be carried out and/or for an alternative plan to be agreed for the full use of what is a magnificent facility.

  Cuisle is not only a respite and holiday centre for the service-users, it is also a huge asset to the local community. So many events have been held there over the years. The setting is fantastic and it would be a crying shame if the doors of this facility were to close this weekend.

  This decision was announced only three weeks ago and I know that it’s late in the day but the doors of Cuisle must not be allowed to close this Friday. If that happens, it will be impossible to open them again (in an IWA context). We cannot afford to lose another vital piece of community infrastructure from our county.

  Over to you Simon and Leo – tell the IWA that Cuisle must not close.

All will not be calm and bright in many homes this Christmas

 

 

 

According to Women’s Aid, the charity received nearly 20,000 calls to its helpline last year, meaning an unacceptable and worrying amount of women and children are still experiencing domestic violence and abuse in this country. Many of those unfortunate people are living among us in Roscommon.

  Therefore, with the launch of the 16 Days of Action campaign, which began last Monday, running to December 10th, I’d like to acknowledge those brave survivors who managed to break free from their abusers. Importantly, I’d like to show solidarity with those courageous women who, for whatever reason, are unable to escape and are still suffering at the hands of a coward. My heart goes out to you and your children.

  Now, as someone who was raised in an extremely violent environment, I can tell you that for a child, waking up each day in an unpredictable, tension-filled house, (I refuse to call it a home because it’s not), dominated by terror and fear, can lead to psychological trauma that can remain for decades.

  In fact the abusive environment was the reason I ran off and got married at 17! It’s also the reason I’m the ultimate worrier, always apprehensive about the future, always trying to predict what may happen.  

  However, let me make it abundantly clear, and this is important…it was not my darling, gentle, hard-working, teetotal and loving dad who was the abusive one; rather it was my street-angel, house-devil mother who made both his and my life a living hell. Indeed, throw alcohol and Christmas into the mix, and we became hostages in the hands of a neurotic bully. 

  Now it’s my belief that domestic violence can often occur as a result of learned behaviours.  However, I know it’s also a configuration of a deep-rooted coercive controlling desire living inside the contorted mind of a bitter and warped tyrant, whose goal it is to intimidate and humiliate their victims. I’d even suggest that abusers who hide behind the pathetic drink and drugs defence, (choosing to use them as a convenient excuse), are cowardly, unhinged losers ridding themselves of taking responsibility for their own actions. 

  Indeed, most abusers don’t need alcohol to mistreat people; they’re perfectly nasty pieces of work when stone-cold sober. But hey, if they can place the blame on something else, then they can mask their disgusting oppressive nature, thus minimising the damage they’ve caused in their own minds.

  I adore my dad, he is, and always will remain my first love, and I count myself extremely fortunate to have a fantastic relationship with him and my step-mother.

  In addition, I’m now married to a man who’s not only extremely protective of me; he’s respectful, and importantly, he understands my need, (he’d say compulsion), to rescue and help those who’re vulnerable. Regular readers know this includes animals.

  My reason for sharing my own experience of domestic violence as a child is to show that (while statistically it’s women who’re more likely to become victims), some men do experience abuse.

  In the run-up to Christmas, please readers, be aware of what is happening to many Irish women/men/children in their own homes.

  Due to the close relationship between the abuser and their victim, domestic violent situations can be complex issues. 

  Therefore, if anyone believes that a family member/friend/neighbour is suffering at the hands of a controlling despot, (and if there are kiddies in the mix; they’re also traumatised), then please, this week, do what you can to help. Perhaps begin by inviting them for a coffee and calmly and non-judgementally, voice your concerns. Be supportive and never force the conversation. Remember your pal is finding it extremely difficult to talk about their situation. It’s important you don’t actually tell them they’re in an abusive relationship, rather you might gently mention specific incidents you’ve noticed yourself, and ask how those situations make them feel? Take your cues from their response. Your objective is to help your pal to understand that things aren’t quite right, so please acknowledge their circumstances and reassure them that there’s support available.

  My mother passed away in September, and, while her death opened a massive Pandora’s Box regarding her violent behaviour towards me and my dad, I’ve managed to reconcile with the fact I cannot grieve for her. But that’s fine; how can I be expected to feel the loss of a mother I never had? Indeed, if I am shedding tears readers, they’re for the loss of the childhood she denied me.

  For local support regarding domestic violence/abuse contact Roscommon Safe Link on 071-9664200. There’s also a 24-hour national helpline on Freephone 1800-341900.

 

It’s about time GAA honoured Bloody Sunday victims!

 

On 21st November 1920, British forces rolled into Croke Park, (during a match between my native Dublin and Tipperary), opened fire, and murdered 14 innocent people, injuring many others.

  Last Thursday, on what was the 99th anniversary of this atrocity, the final three unmarked graves of the victims were embellished with headstones. As a proud Irish woman I’m glad that finally, for those entirely blameless souls, common sense has prevailed. Instead of their memories being submerged under petty politics, they’ve now been rightfully honoured as human beings, as family members and as innocents who went to a match and never came home.

  Indeed, it has always been my opinion that while it suited certain bodies to mythologise and utilise this act of savagery when promoting themselves as being significant players in our fight for independence and Irish nationalism, they never saw fit to rightfully acknowledge any of these victims.

  With next year’s centenary on the horizon, I’d like to specifically mention little 10-year-old Jerome O’Leary, (the youngest victim of this act of brutality). That poor kid who was mercilessly shot dead as he sat on top of a wall came from Blessington Street, where I was born and raised. And, as apparently no family members could be found to remember him at the ceremony, the GAA stood in (not before time!).

  And, as Jerome lived where I once lived, this child’s death kind of had a seismic impact on me, and I can only imagine the level of devastation, the sorrow and the suffering visited upon his poor mother on that day. May all who lost their lives ar Domhnach na Fola finally get to rest in peace.

 

Keep the money local!

It’s Black Friday folks, and, as Brexit and online shopping can negatively affect independent businesses, do please remember to shop locally and keep our fabulously festive Roscommon strong!

 

 

Rallying to the Cuise cause

 

 

 

 

We joined the ‘Save Cuisle’ Rally as it wound its way into Abbey Street. Although the context is sad, it was a sight that made you proud. This was a terrific turnout, a great show of support for service users and staff.

  The Cuisle Holiday Centre at Donamon has been at the heart of the community in Roscommon for over 20 years. The shock announcement by the IWA of its decision to close the facility was announced on Friday, 1st of November – and is scheduled to take effect this Friday. There are over 40 jobs at stake. Service users are devastated. It is a serious blow to the local economy. And there is deep – and legitimate – anger at the manner in which this is being done.

  Saturday’s rally was a peaceful show of solidarity with the people most affected. It was very heartening to see the huge turnout; yet there was an inevitable sadness in the air.

  The politicians raised their voices (well, some of them did), calling on all their oratorical skills to maximise the impact of what they were saying. The enemy was the IWA board. The crowd cheered the soundbytes, the words of defiance. But the clock kept ticking. 

  Danny Burke, by any measure a truly great Roscommon man, was an apt rallying MC for a momentous rally. His heart would bleed primrose and blue. Naturally, Danny had to evaluate the turnout in the context of past GAA-related gatherings in the county town. And the Castlerea man reckoned this crowd was more than a match for the numbers that assembled for feted Roscommon teams in 1979, ’80 and 2006!

  Two men with tambourines stood in front of me. Others held placards and signs aloft. There were perhaps 2,000 or so people present. The county town had come to a standstill. On the back of a lorry supplied by Glancy’s Fruit & Veg (from which two Roscommon flags fluttered), our local reps threw all they had at the IWA.

  Danny spoke of service users who had tears in their eyes when they heard of the shock closure. Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice called for the board of the IWA to stand down. Others spoke in a similar vein. All wanted a stay of execution. It has come to this; we are effectively begging an arrogant IWA hierarchy to defer closure. But it’s the right approach. We are where we are. What we need now is more time.

  Senator Ronan Mullen made a good point. Tell the IWA we can find the elusive €1.1m or so – or the bulk of it – and essentially call their bluff. The IWA has said electrical works are required, to the tune of €1.1m or so. Mind you, they have given mixed messages, also talking of the need to move to a new model of care, before playing an ‘asbestos card’ at last week’s Oireachtas Health Committee meeting. Three reasons to close a facility they proclaim to love.

  The speakers, some of them at least, also made it clear that Minister Finian McGrath is in their firing line. He ought not to expect the Freedom of Roscommon any time soon.

  When the speeches had ended, and the cheers had died down, it was left to Danny Burke to make some sense of it all. He thanked everyone who had made the rally such a success, and repeated the message to the IWA: this closure ought not to go ahead, and the people of Roscommon – supported by service users and politicians from around the country – are fiercely opposed to it.

  The problem, we all agreed, was that the IWA doesn’t appear to be listening, Minister McGrath doesn’t appear to be listening, and there’s no proactive intervention by Government or the HSE. We appear to be whistling in the wind, no fault of ours. And we’re not paranoid in rural Ireland; this devastating closure almost certainly would not happen in an urban constituency with a senior Government Minister.  

  By 2.35 pm on Saturday, it was all over. A fantastic turnout. A strong message sent. But still a sense of foreboding. We dispersed, with our signs, our tambourines and our sense of injustice. We were defiant, but there was also an air of resignation, a sense, on this beautiful day, that dark clouds were not far away.  

 

Printer-gate: A heartwarming tale

 

From the people who brought you the €54m electronic voting fiasco, the culture which saw Irish Water spend €70m on consultants, and the ‘€500 a week on Bertie Ahern’s make-up’ classic, comes a new heartwarming tale. The Houses of Oireachtas needed a new printer. They got one, at a cost of €808,000. When it emerged that it would not fit where it was meant to go – because the wrong measurements had been taken – they paid an extra €230,000 plus to resolve the issue. Finally, staff are refusing to be trained on how to use it until they receive a pay rise.

  It is understood that the printer, when operational, will be able to print off the the latest homeless figures and details of the numbers of patients on hospital trolleys (in colour)…

 

 

 

Let’s all RALLY to the Cuisle cause this Saturday

 

 

As we all know, a few weeks ago the Irish Wheelchair Association dropped the bombshell that Cuisle in Donamon was going to close by the 29th of November, with just over 40 jobs to go.

  Along with many others, I wondered if the community was going to take the news lying down – and I am delighted to say that they are not.

  Last Thursday night a meeting was held at which it was resolved to try to get the decision reversed. This Saturday, 23rd of November, a major rally will take place in Roscommon town at 1 pm. Everyone is asked to come along and support the organisers and those affected by the heartless announcement.

  As Martin Finan, one of the driving forces behind the rally, pointed out to me, Cuisle is not just a wheelchair holiday resort, it is also a major community hub where all kinds of social events take place. Sports clubs, individuals and local organisations have all held functions there over the years.

  Saturday’s rally will convene at the new County Council offices and proceed by the back of the Church, up Abbey Street, on to Church Street, and into Main Street, where the rally will be addressed by a number of speakers.

  That great Castlerea man, Danny Burke, will be the MC. Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon Co. Council, Keith Swanick, a Belmullet-based Doctor and Senator, as well as a number of our local TDs and Senators will (hopefully) all be in attendance.

  I’m sure they will all be only too glad to address the huge crowd that I expect to be there and throw their support behind the vitally important rescue effort.

  Of course, what’s needed is a positive outcome, but without a show of strength by the people nothing will happen, so please get to Roscommon in your thousands, show the Government that you will not put up with this outrageous closure, and you – the people – will ensure that Cuisle stays open and continues to look after its holiday makers and the local community for many years to come.

 

Prevalance of drugs a major concern

 

A few weeks ago, the Health Research Board (in its annual newsletter) informed us that use of cocaine has now returned to the levels it reached in Celtic Tiger Ireland. The board said that while back in those days the problem was pretty much confined to the bigger cities and urban areas, it is now rampant in rural Ireland and is being used in even the smallest country villages.

  In Co. Donegal, a garda in Letterkenny described the problem in the town as rampant, in Mayo the warning is that cocaine use is threatening to spiral out of control, and nearly all regional towns are seeing an increase in recorded drug crime. Once upon a time the common theory was that coke was the recreational drug for the wealthy yuppies of Dublin 4, but now the Gardai say there is no specific group that uses the drug. As my colleague Seamus Duke noted in his column in this newspaper recently, it is now so universally used that the farmer or the nurse or anyone at all can be a user.

  Back in my day, when I was a young fellow dipping my toes in the recreational ways of the world, there was really only alcohol, and while nobody should underestimate the danger of alcohol addiction, there wasn’t quite the same threat involved. For a start, there was no such thing as shots. It’s a different scenario now.

  All of this came into my head when I read this week that a huge drug seizure (heroin) occurred in the village of Kilmallock in Co. Limerick, and looking back over the last short while I see where there have been seizures in Lanesborough, Longford, Ennis, Enniscorthy, Navan, Drogheda, Mallow, Leixlip, Killaloe, and umpteen ones in Dublin and its environs.

  Obviously these seizures are just the tip of the iceberg, as a lot more makes it to the streets than doesn’t, so I suppose the message is that no matter where you are, don’t be surprised if someone near you is using coke or some other dangerous drug. A worrying thought.

 

Saturday will be a historic day for Creggs RFC

 

45 years ago a few lads met for a few pints in Dowd’s in Glinsk and decided the time was right to start a rugby club in Creggs.

  It turned out to be a rocky road before the young club was up and running, but today it is one of the foremost clubs in Connacht. It has probably the best playing facilities in the province, a huge number of playing and non-playing members, two very successful adult teams, along with loads of underage teams, both boys and girls, and in truth it is almost impossible to believe that the slightly mad dream of all those years ago has turned out so well.

  This Saturday, 23rd of November, the club is holding the official opening of the new pitches at 4.30 pm, with games taking place at every age group all day long from 10 am, including a firsts’ league game at 5 pm against our neighbours from Athlone, Buccaneers. It will all finish up with a Dinner Dance in the Abbey Hotel (at 8 pm) on Saturday night. Tickets for the dance are available from any committee member. It promises to be a wonderful celebration of an amazing local success story, so if you are free, put on the gladrags, get out the dancing shoes, and hit for the Abbey where you are guaranteed wonderful food, great music and even better craic – and please God I’ll see you there.

 

Fundraising success

 

Last night (Wednesday) in Dowd’s of Glinsk, we presented the proceeds of our recent fundraising dance (€5,430) to be divided equally between the Lourdes Invalid Fund and Cancer Care West.

  Once again the people of the parish surpassed themselves with both their welcome and generosity. On behalf of everyone, a thousand thanks for all your support. Year in, year out you continue to amaze with your kindness, and we cannot thank you enough.

 

And finally…

 

Finally for this week, I would like to welcome our new parish priest, Fr. Donal Morris, to our parish and wish him well in his new role. The reaction so far is very positive, and I have no doubt he will prove to be a great addition to the area.

 

 

 

 

 

Perils of Perils of the Internet: Onus is on parents to wise up

 

 

 

 

A recent high profile trial in this State brought to the surface many talking points, not least the free availability of extreme violence and pornography which is a couple of clicks away on every smartphone in the country.

  I have a feeling that many parents are not aware of the stuff that is flying around on the Internet every day of the week. Some of the stuff that is appearing on Whatsapp and other facilities that are available on any smartphone is truly frightening and disturbing.

  For example, this week images of the injuries suffered by a 13-year-old girl who was attacked in Fermanagh were widely available and being passed on by hundreds of thousands of people. Last year a video of a person who was killed in an accident on the M50 was widely circulated. Every day, violent rows and every kind of extreme sexual and violent behaviour is shared – and it goes around like wildfire.

  It’s only the tip of the iceberg as hundreds of these messages and videos are shared every single day, without any censorship at all. That’s quite apart from all the porn and violent sites that are just a click away as well.

   Most mature adults would be able to deal with this carry-on without too much bother, but God only knows what effect it is having on young people. I hear politicians appealing for restrictions on these major companies – which is an honourable stance to take – but that ship has sailed a long time ago. Restricting them here would be impossible unless the same restrictions were to apply in every other country as well.

  The responsibility for this stuff being seen by young people has to be with parents. Buying a smartphone for a 10 to 12 year old is not a good idea if it is not monitored strictly. They are powerful mini-laptops in your pocket.

  That’s not even to mention the whole vexed question of bullying. A report this week reveals that most of the online bullying that goes on among school going kids happens at night. So when your little darlings go up the stairs at night with their smartphone in their hand, anything could be happening. I know that it’s scary, but it’s a reality.

  Social media has been a phenomenon of the modern age. Applications like Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook and all the others have some great advantages and have been a very positive addition to many people’s lives in this era of instant news.

  There is a very dark side to it too – that’s the reality. Parents just have to take responsibility for what their kids are looking at. Expecting the politicians to do it isn’t the answer.

  In the next month there will be many requests from young people for their parents to buy them a smartphone for Christmas. It would be wise to stop and think about the responsibility having that phone brings. Most kids are okay and well adjusted and unlikely to do anything very serious, but there are those who would be adversely affected by looking at this material. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was swing-gate – not the media – that finally un-seated Maria

 

 

Now folks, I don’t wish to keep harping on about Maria Bailey; God knows, I’m sick to my back teeth of the whole sorry saga. Indeed, as she was the architect of her own downfall, I’m not surprised the chronicles of swing-gate finally served to, ahem, unseat her. Therefore last week, as she (in my opinion rightly) continued to face a public backlash regarding her claim (which she ultimately dropped) against the Dean Hotel, and was removed from the Fine Gael ticket in the next general election, I thought this would be the end of this excruciating soap opera. Alas it’s not…and you can thank Senator Michelle Mulherin and her ridiculous comments for that.

  Okay, initially I was prepared to overlook Ms. Mulherin’s catty remarks regarding coverage of Ms. Bailey’s predicament, claiming they hadn’t been “proportionate or fair”. But then she referred to what she described as the “incessant coverage and abuse” allegedly levelled at her former party colleague, and asked if “she (Bailey) was a man, if she would have got it,” (the ‘it’ I assume being either the ‘abuse,’ or the ‘coverage’ or both); so I had to comment. Indeed I had to ask if perhaps Senator Mulherin is actually genuinely concerned for her ‘friend’ or if she’s using the whole mess as an excuse to garner a few column inches for herself…given her own er, discord with the meeja!

  It’s possible Ms. Mulherin, (she of the 130 phone calls allegedly made from her Leinster House phone to an individual in Kenya, which, according to her weren’t ‘personal,’ controversy…yeah…insert raised eyebrow emoji here), is trying to place a more sinister spin on the Bailey outcome. And if that’s the case, then in my opinion that’s as shameful as it is ludicrous! But, for the sake of balance here, I must mention that Ms. Mulherin did pay back those phone charges in full, however, it’s clear from her hostile utterances that the Senator’s still miffed at the meeja attention surrounding the whole affair.

  But I digress…back to Ms. Bailey…and let me say that if you were to pay any attention to Senator Mulherin’s ‘if she was a man’ reference, (and for the record, I don’t), you’d be forgiven for thinking there was some kind of ‘sexist’ motive behind Maria’s removal, when in fact, there isn’t.

  Let me try to put things in perspective here for you, Michelle. I believe Maria Bailey was de-selected because she made a number of very bad decisions and ill-advised choices. She waited way too long before she dropped her case against the hotel, and by doing this, it was she, and she alone, who allowed the saga to drag on as long as it did. Then, by creating what I can only describe as being a publicist’s nightmare, Maria took part in that now infamous interview with Sean O’Rourke, without what appears to be any preparation whatsoever. In doing this Michelle, your BFF placed her foot firmly in her own mouth…but she didn’t stop there…oh no. Instead of holding her hands up, immediately declaring how terribly sorry she was, and how stupid she felt, before promptly shutting up, Maria poured petrol onto the fire, setting in motion the string of events that perpetuated her own downfall. Simples!

  Yes Michelle, what happened to Maria Bailey had nothing got to do with the fact that she’s a female, nay, it had everything to do with the fact she acted foolishly and she was naïve...or vacuous. (You decide, readers). However, as Maria now takes time out to reflect on her future, I’d like to wish both herself and her family the very best!

 

Why I believe KBC bank chief Johan Thijs would make a great panto villain!

 

We’re well into silly panto season readers, (oh no we’re not), and, as we all know, in order to be a roaring success, every panto production needs a realistic baddie…enter stage left Johan Thijs!

  Yep, in my opinion, given his disgracefully impudent, disrespectful and callous ‘move on’ remarks regarding the tracker mortgage scandal, rendering this offensive man to find the whole episode “annoying,” I believe that KBC Group’s chief executive would make a perfectly wicked ‘boo, hiss’ villain! Am I right?

  Yes folks, last week, in what I’d describe as being a typically classic strutting and scheming panto moment, Mr. Thijs insulted everyone who has either been overcharged on their mortgage or who has lost their homes as a result of the controversy with his comments. And you know what? He didn’t even have the decency to place them into a fake feelgood PR-induced coma first!

  Now, while Fianna Fáil’s finance spokesperson Michael McGrath has reportedly described Mr. Thijs’ comments as being “ill-judged, ill-informed and deeply hurtful,” I’d like to go one step further and say the latter’s choice of words were a classic case of intrinsic indifference towards his fellow human beings. Okay, Thijs has since apologised, but it’s too little too late, and this insensitive individual should understand that the banks took money belonging to innocent people – and they broke the rules while they did it.

  Therefore, instead of expecting that we all/the country should have ‘dispensed with the issue by now’ my suggestion to Mr. Thijs would be that he might take his own advice and, ‘move on’…to another profession. Specifically something that doesn’t involve him dealing with people.

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

 

It’s showtime folks! Yes, if you want to feel truly Christmassy, I suggest you pay a visit to our beautiful county town. Why? Because it’s cosy, it’s friendly, and it’s got everything you could ever want by way of a plethora of shops, restaurants, hotels, jewellers, hair and beauty salons, supermarkets and the farmers’ market…oh and free parking; all topped off with a fabulous, fun, festive atmosphere that I for one can’t get enough of.

  As a ‘Christmas junkie,’ (my granddaughter’s words), each year, I tend to get over-enthusiastic when, upon entering the roundabout into Roscommon town, I notice the Christmas lights height notice (apparently aimed at drivers of large vehicles) and that for me hails the onset of the festive season. It also gives me permission to start acting like a Magpie, and buy up every sparkly, glittery, twinkly and flashy bauble I can get my hands on; much to the amusement of he-who-thinks-he’s-the-boss! Yep, I’m pathetic. In addition, as Roscommon town plays host to some of the loveliest of shop fronts around the country, all displaying an impressive array of creativity and dedication aimed at keeping shoppers closer to home, I’d like to remind readers to remain loyal, shop local and keep the money, as well as the jobs, in Roscommon. This of course applies countywide. Remember, our local stores’ survival may depend on the benefits of the additional revenue they receive in the run-up to the festive season; so do give them a chance!

 

 

Support the rally!

 

The decision to close the Cuisle Centre is highly questionable. The manner in which it is being done is appalling.

  There is a major rally in Roscommon Town this Saturday (starting at 1 pm). We need to attend, in huge numbers.

  Time is ticking here. I am totally unconvinced by the utterly conflicting reasons put forward by the IWA for the closure. As for Minister Finian McGrath, his has been an utterly hapless contribution, in keeping with much of his Inspector Clouseau-esque period as minister! Far from offering any hope for the service-users and staff, he has hidden behind a wall of waffle.

  Let’s make our views known this Saturday – and then intensify the fight over the coming days. 

The great Niall Toibin

Another legend is gone. The word is shamefully overused these days…but not when it is used to describe Brendan Grace, Gay Byrne and now…Niall Toibin.

  Niall Toibin was a supremely talented man…a great comedian and a very versatile actor with a fantastic body of work to his name.

  I saw him live in stand-up in Cavan maybe thirty years ago…and he was brilliant.

  If Brendan Grace, Gaybo and Niall are together in Heaven now, it’s some fun…

 

Pitch perfect in Creggs

Like anybody who has seen them, I’ve marvelled at the magnificent facilities which have been developed at Creggs Rugby Club.

  I was in Creggs last week (chatting to Joe Dolan about his new pub venture in the village) and the superb sporting facility truly stands out as a monument to vision, hard work and community support.

  Current President Aidan Farrell, his predecessor Padraic Deane – and everyone involved at committee level, behind the scenes and elsewhere – all deserve great credit. They also deserve to enjoy this weekend’s celebrations.

  There are a number of matches in Creggs on Saturday (see our sports section) and the official opening of the new facilities at 4.30 pm (before the firsts’ play Buccaneers). That night, guests will gather in the Abbey Hotel for the club’s Dinner Dance. Well done to all concerned.

 

Denis steps in…

“Who’s been sitting in MY chair?” Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice might well have asked – on two occasions recently – when the Tonight Show with Ivan and Matt came on.

  It was Denis Naughten (both times)…a surge by the former minister!

  We thought Michael Fitz was the undisputed King of the Virgin Media studio. What’s going on? (And when will Eugene Murphy get the call? To be continued).

 

Banking made easy?

If you are retired and have lots of spare time, here’s a hobby which I would like to recommend: you could spend half a day every day trying to contact your local bank.

  It’s fun, it’s relatively cheap…and you might hear some so-so music along the way.

  When I tried to call a local bank earlier this week, the ‘computer’ asked me to press more buttons than Deputy Niall Collins does on an average Thursday. 

  Finally, as is the norm these days, a fairly disinterested person in Dublin answered…and, after poking about in my business, eventually connected me with the bank, which is of course only a minute or two up the street from where I was ringing.

  Yeah, I know, should have walked…

 

Free advice…

This week’s ‘Free advice to TDs’ corner: If you’re the TD sitting beside an opposition leader during one of those very important (and not at all superficial) Dáil exchanges, there is one thing – above all else – that you must remember.

  Always maintain a serious (furrowed brow) expression when your leader is speaking. He/she is invariably incredulous at the Government’s latest action or inaction…and is making a sober point.

  So if you’re the TD silently sitting next to your leader, always maintain that straight face. This is (a) to give extra gravitas to your leader’s contribution; (b) to ensure no complacency on the other side; (c) because of the TV cameras.

  If your leader cracks a dry joke, you are free to laugh, but not to the extent that it lightens the mood too much, or undermines the seriousness and solemnity of what he/she is saying.

  If your leader cracks a hilarious and original one-liner, please report this extraordinary development immediately!

 

Lightbulb moment (Part 2)

My item last week on the broken street light in Abbey Street proved to be a ‘guiding light’ for another reader.

  This reader writes: “Regarding your ‘Lightbulb moment?’ piece in your column last week, it’s great to see you highlighting such issues, issues which the Council seems to ignore!”

  The reader continues: “I wish residents, business people or someone from the local schools would follow the lead of the reader who contacted you and highlight the lack of lights at the pedestrian (Zebra) crossing at the junction of Convent Road and roundabout leading onto Abbey Street, Galway Road & Circular Road.

  “At night – and in poor weather conditions any time of day – I have seen drivers simply drive past this dangerous place when people are waiting to cross – and in some case even when pedestrians are crossing.

  “All these lights have been out since at least the summer. This is not the first time this situation has prevailed. I hope the Council will address it”.

 

Pothole poser

Hot on the heels of the ‘lights brigade’ comes the ‘pothole protestors’…a reader has been in touch to highlight a section of a much-used road in the county town, the condition of which is driving him ‘potty’.

  This ‘concerned Roscommon citizen’ is referring to the road into the Centre Point Retail Park in Roscommon Town, which (as our photograph shows) is sporting a very large pothole.

  “This hole has been there for over a year now” the reader says. “When will the Council sort it out? The town would like an answer!”

  To paraphrase the old joke, we hope the Council will ‘look into’ it… 

 

 

It’s time to shout stop (again)

 

 

 

When people like me highlight closures and the withdrawal of services locally, we are often accused of ‘talking down the county’. I have lived in this county all my life and been very proud to do so. However, as someone who has a responsibility to do so, I will always highlight problems that exist when they arise – and I make no apology for doing so.

  I have to say that I am dismayed with the amount of services that have been withdrawn from our county in the past couple of years alone. Hardly a month goes by that there is not some announcement that will have a major negative effect on our community.

  First there was the downgrading of Boyle Garda Station, then we had the disastrous closure (almost complete) of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea. Some weeks ago it was announced that the Garda Divisional Headquarters would be moving from Roscommon Town to Castlebar, and there is a now a long-term threat (albeit due to mooted refurbishment work) to continued sittings at Roscommon Courthouse.

  Earlier this month there was the devastating news that the Cuisle Centre in Donamon is to close with the loss of around 45 jobs, and this week we have confirmation from Bord na Mona that hundreds of jobs in the Midlands are to go as the ESB stops using peat altogether.

  With the exception of the Bord na Mona jobs, all the other situations receive little national media coverage. They are however huge blows within our county. It’s ‘death by a thousand cuts’ and now is the time for our public representatives to shout stop. It seems like the loss of services here is a relentless trend.

  Bit by bit, services are being taken away – and not being replaced – and it is happening under our noses. The fact is towns such as Roscommon, Boyle and Castlerea are commuter towns where the majority of people are getting into their cars and heading west or east to work every day.

  Local people, including Cuisle staff, were due in the Dáil on Wednesday to protest at the decision of the Irish Wheelchair Association to close Cuisle, but believe me folks, like everything else in this country, if the political will was there Cuisle would remain open. If Cuisle was located in Minister Finian McGrath’s constituency, do you think it would be closing? I think you know the answer to that one.

  The argument about the use of peat to generate electricity has been lost a long time ago but the fact remains that there are hundreds of people who have been in Bord na Mona for 30 and 40 years and who will never work again. The gaggle of ministers who visited the area on Monday say that the people in Bord na Mona can be re-trained so that they can retrofit houses. I will be amazed if that happens. They are also planning to ‘refurbish’ the bogs and turn them into tourist trails and parks. I’m not convinced by that either. A way of life for many people is coming to an end, it’s as simple as that.

  The bottom line is that as the months go by, many services are being cut and employment is being reduced in rural Ireland, especially in the midlands. How many cuts are we going to have to withstand in this county and this region before people start to get very angry? There is a general election coming up in the next five or six months. Readers should remember that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m sick of RTE’s ‘we’re broke’ mantra

 

Well readers, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that RTE, in a bid to save €60 million over three years, has announced a major cost-cutting plan which will include 200 job losses and a fifteen per cent pay cut for its highest earning ‘stars’.

  We’re well aware of the State broadcaster’s financial difficulties; indeed hasn’t Director General Dee Forbes, (or as I call her, the thorn-in-licence-payers’ sides) been going on and on about the cash-strapped organisation’s money struggles for years now. However, instead of doing something constructive, like say, her job, and taking responsibility for the mess, and making radical reforms, Ms. Forbes continues to insist on a licence fee price-hike in order to cover RTE’s sorry ass, and its losses – something which I find inexcusable.

  As a licence payer, (not because I want to be, but because I have to be), I’m sick of the time-wasting, formulaic tripe RTE serves up under the guise of ‘entertainment’ – and to that end, I’m finding it very difficult to illicit any sympathy for Dee and her plight. Indeed, the only emotion I’m feeling this week is apathy, especially as Ms. Forbes reportedly personally receives a wage of €250,000, a €25,000 car allowance and pension contributions of €63,000, (bringing her total package in at €338,000), yet continues to put on the poor mouth. On top of this, RTE bigwigs seem to consistently make short-sighted and contradictory bad business decisions. Like on the one hand, Dee’s licence fee/State support demands tell me she’s probably living in the past, viewing RTE as it was in DeValera’s age when the national broadcaster had a duty to endorse our pure ‘Oirishness’ and push the moral codes of the Catholic Church! On the other hand, RTE’s hierarchy, (strangely appearing to actually embrace the 21st century), whined about the country’s changing landscape where younger audiences are moving their viewing preferences towards online sources…yet then makes the paradoxical decision to cut back on their digital services! What’s that about?

  With all of this in mind, let me offer Ms. Forbes an insight into the real world of media…and say that all organisations are struggling. It’s not just RTE! Indeed, this very newspaper, as it’s a complimentary publication, (not funded by the licence fee, or State support), has to, week in, week out, fend for itself. That means it depends solely upon advertising revenue in order to survive and bring our readers continuous first class content, rendering Dee Forbes and her pathetic ‘we’re broke’ stance to really grate on every nerve in my being!

  Now, let me say that I do have enormous sympathy and feel deep empathy with RTE’s researchers, producers, script writers, cleaning and catering staff, etc., who’ll bear the brunt of Ms. Forbes’ 200 job cuts, and my heart goes out to them. But with regard to the so-called ‘talent’, let me say that, in my opinion folks, you’re not worth it! Nope, you’re not all that! It’s time you realised you’re presenters – not demigods – and no other broadcaster would even think of offering you such ridiculous amounts of money! In fact, I imagine that even with the proposed fifteen per cent cuts to your salaries, you’ll likely still enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle, so forgive me if I don’t set up a go-fund-me page for you any time soon!

  And, while I’m still enjoying the view from my high horse, can I ask why there are twelve staff members working on the RTE Guide? What are they all doing? It doesn’t take that many people to run and produce a magazine. Okay, I’ll admit the Guide kinda fills a niche for something to read in the run-up to Christmas while out having a gingerbread latte…you know, when you’re not interested in focusing fully! Indeed, it probably fulfils the entertainment equivalent of downing a cheap bottle of plonk when what you really want is a magnum of Moet. In fact, the RTE Guide is a magazine I’ll buy, not because of its exceptional literary value, but because I’m feeling nostalgic and want to get rid of the coins jangling in my pocket! Here’s a thought…why doesn’t Dee drop a has-been presenter and use his/her salary to employ the Guide staff elsewhere!

 

Why is there a troubling trend of cocaine abuse in Ireland?

 

Apparently – according to a Health Research Board (HRB) report – there’s a steep rise in cocaine use in this country, with record numbers of people seeking treatment. Now, I don’t know about you folks, but as a mother, I find this to be very disquieting, especially as it’s reported that one in six of those (in Ireland) receiving treatment for drug addiction are dependent on cocaine.

  Without sounding glib, can I ask…where are they getting the money for this coke? I’m working full-time and struggle to fund my weekly bottle of wine, never mind support a drug habit, so I’m genuinely gobsmacked when I hear things like having a line of coke with a pint is deemed to be as normal as having a bag of Tayto or a cigarette. In fact, I find this to be particularly scary, especially as I’ve never even tried a cigarette and I think twice about popping two paracetamol for a headache and instead try to get rid of it with a strong coffee! But, ahem, each to their own.

  Perhaps this addiction all began during the boom, perhaps it didn’t. However, I do know that cocaine, (in its powdered form), is linked to the Celtic Tiger, with crack cocaine abuse and dependency being more linked to organised crime and those who are, for want of a better explanation, feeling disempowered. Indeed, this type of drug is decimating families and communities alike, causing pain on so many levels; and the reality is, that its use is commonplace, it’s rife and it’s readily available, with some people even ‘doing coke’ in order to see them through a simple workday. Indeed, as drug addiction services are more geared towards heroin abuse, and there are opiate substitute treatments linked to it, (like methadone), it appears, despite the fact cocaine dependency is on the rise, that our treatment facilities and services have not been able to keep up. Therefore, if you’re unfortunate enough to be consuming cocaine, I presume your best option for help is to go down the very expensive psychotherapy (or talk therapy route). But hey…I hate to sound heartless here, but if you’ve got the cash to spend on coke, you’ve got the cash to spend on a good shrink! Am I right?

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to this RSS feed