Cap-tivating: The brothers defend Fortress Healy-Rae


Wednesday (and all week)

Word is that MacSharry v Healy-Rae brothers in the Dáil is gone viral. I check it out on online and while the row is certainly ‘very lively’, I’m just a little bit disappointed. It’s a great bit of theatre but doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

  Granted, there’s something almost artistic about that image of the Healy-Rae brothers rising together and simultaneously looking right to aim their ire and (I would argue) mock fury at the wild man of the west (played brilliantly by Marc MacSharry).

  When the two brothers almost morph into one, both with outraged expressions, right hands pointing and indignation dripping from their mouths – the duo barely pausing to calculate how many number ones this might be worth – it’s almost an image of beauty. The resulting photograph is a symmetrical stunner. Frozen in time, the Healy-Raes are poised in an image which is quite graceful and touching in its own way, two brothers defending their family’s good name, shielding Fortress Healy-Rae from the arrows dispatched by the lone attacker. In this fleeting frozen moment (well, without the sound), they’re like Torville and Dean at their imperious peak on the ice.

  With the sound on it’s a bit less graceful, MacSharry losing the cool and the Healy-Rae boys lapping it up and turning the raw material of the Sligo man’s attack into electoral gold.


Thursday (and all week)

The HSE?

  Sometimes it just leaves you feeling sick.

  The HSE loves and cherishes statistics and projections.

  But the HSE can be less caring and thoughtful when it comes to people.

  Fair enough, the HSE makes changes based on what it believes is right, but far too often it does so with little obvious regard for the human consequences.

  The HSE can be callous, it can be cold, and it can be heartless.

  Maybe it doesn’t mean to be, but too often the HSE hurts ordinary, decent people with its cold statisics-based decision-making.

  I seldom let the Government of the day off the hook when controversies such as the one that has engulfed families in Castlerea arise, but this time, for now, it looks like public frustration should be concentrated on the HSE.

  Now if the Government doesn’t oversee a reversal of the closure threat hanging ove the Rosalie Unit, that’s another matter. Then the Government will be well entitled to its share of public anger and frustration.

  It remains to be seen whether or not Health Minister Simon Harris or Minister for Mental Health Jim Daly play the game which the HSE and politicians have often played, whereby they try to present the health body as some stand-alone entity free of accountability to Government.

  You know those pitiful instances in the past when the Minister of the day (and sometimes colleagues too) insults our intelligence by trying to side with the public in condemning the actions of the HSE! At such times, the HSE will do the dirty work, and the public is meant to believe that the Government is powerless to stop it. But isn’t the HSE supposed to be implementing Government policy, and also to be answerable to the government of the day?

  In any event, for now at least, public ire is directed at the HSE. But it will take political will to address this threat to the Rosalie Unit.

  As ever, a web exists, part-spun by the HSE, part-spun by the political players. In 2015, a number of Roscommon politicians (and community figures) emerged from a meeting with then-Minister of State for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch, and all were of the same view – the minister had promised that the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea would not close, and would in fact be developed further.

  At Thursday night’s public meeting in Castlerea, Minister Denis Naughten said that, almost three years on from the ‘Lynch meeting,’ it remains Government – and HSE – policy that the Rosalie Unit should remain open.

  Yet, earlier that very day, Tony Canavan of the HSE had told families of residents of the Rosalie centre that the facility will in fact be closing.

  These families are deeply upset at the threat to the service and unhappy with the alternative arrangements being mooted. Currently twelve patients, all suffering from dementia, are resident in the centre.

  Minister Naughten’s contribution was very well received and it is comforting that a member of Cabinet is issuing an unequivocal ‘hands-off’ warning to the HSE. Senator Maura Hopkins is also active on the issue and has arranged a meeting with Ministers Harris and Daly.

  So, where are we?

  Already, the residents and families have been treated very badly.

  The HSE intends to close this facility.

  In 2015, the Government pledged that its future was safe; keeping Rosalie open remains Government policy, we are told.

  How can we, to coin a phrase, square this web?



Record-breaking usage of clichés about the weather

Every day

There are unconfirmed reports that the first six weeks of 2018 have been the busiest for usage of ‘Irish weather clichés’ since records began.

  We contacted the ‘Records of usage of clichés concerning the weather in Ireland’ Department on Monday, but it was closed due to the bad weather.

  We made contact again on Tuesday. A nice man answered the phone. We told him we wanted some statistics on Paddy’s obsession with talking about the weather. Could he help?

  “Of course I can help you. One second now ‘til I get it up on the screen here. Are ye snowed under in Roscommon? How are the roads?”

  After ten minutes’ small talk about the weather, he got down to business.

  “Oh yes, records indicate a dramatic increase in usage of clichés since the start of the year” the man revealed.  

  In particular there’s been a steady rise in usage of the following clichés:

  ‘It’s a hardy morning’.

  ‘That was some rain last night’.

‘There’s snow on the way’.

  ‘You wouldn’t put a dog out in that weather!’

  In fairness to him, our new friend was very forthcoming with the statistics.

  “I can also confirm that there’s been a 30% increase in people saying ‘At least you can notice a stretch in the evenings.’ And we’ve had a lot of reports of almost frenzied usage of ‘I wonder will the schools be open?’ and ‘Is the match still on?’ ”

He was on a roll now. He asked if there was much gritting going on in Roscommon, but we got him to focus again.

  ‘Ok, there’s been a slight increase in usage of these clichés too…’ he conceded.
  ‘The main roads are grand but the side roads are still dodgy’.

  ‘I believe there’s worse on the way’.

  ‘Do you remember a few years ago? It was minus 17!’

  We spoke to a leading psychologist who had an interesting perspective on the Irish obsession with talking about the weather.

  “Oh contrary to the assumption that the weather depresses us, I think the Irish people are cheered up no end when they can talk about the weather. They love it! At the moment, it’s all anyone can talk about and it’s distracting people from all the problems of the world”.

  Meanwhile the man in the ‘Irish Weather Cliches’ Department advised that it’s not peak ‘weather cliché’ season yet.

  “Ah no, that will come in May, when we’ll get a fabulous heatwave which will be forecast to last for at least five days. This will signal the start of serious weather cliché season. You can expect lots of the following:

  ‘It’s nearly too warm, it’s uncomfortable, it’s hard to do anything’ and ‘They had no burger buns, they’re out of them’.

  So, a happy time?

  ‘Oh no, it won’t really be a happy time. THIS is a happy time in Ireland, ‘cos the weather is so bad. When we get the heatwave in May, after an initial high, people will very soon get depressed. The most commonly used cliché from day three will be:

  ‘I hear it’s going to break on Saturday. There’s rain on the way. Sure I’d say that was our summer’.