Miriam’s Musings

Has the Government turned a blind eye on our ‘hard knock’ lives?

Winter is coming and, with it, a disruptive energy crisis leading to a crippling increase in our household utility bills; something we’re warned will lead to possible blackouts and brownouts right across the country. (In case any readers are like me and don’t know what a brownout is, apparently it’s a temporary reduction in the system’s voltage; put simply, a brownout happens when the lights flicker).

I don’t know about you folks, but as someone who lives in a rural area, I’m wondering exactly what our Government, most especially Environment mouthpiece, sorry Minister Eamon Ryan is going to do about this issue – other than lecture us about the soaring demands on our supply over the winter months.

I’ve no doubt readers will have seen a rise in their energy bills over the past few months. On a personal level, my own electricity bills have gone from what I’d deem to have been a normal amount, to now being barely manageable. In fact, they’re so high, I’m in grave danger of turning into a penny-pinching skinflint who’s only short of unscrewing the bulbs from their sockets! I’m exaggerating of course, but you get my drift; things are getting pretty scary.

I do understand that, due to a relatively good summer, we weren’t using our heat or switching on our lights early, etc., meaning many of us may have missed the memo about a power shortage and a massive cost increase. However, that’s not our fault, and it doesn’t diminish the fact our Government should have seen this predicament coming – and made contingency plans. Then again, perhaps Leo Varadkar believes that throwing out a few soundbites about how he’s ‘confident’ there’ll be no electricity blackouts this winter sufficiently addresses the overall issue. Let me tell you Leo, it doesn’t. Nor does it mitigate the fact that energy suppliers are charging us exorbitant and unfair fees to keep our home fires burning.

Perhaps it’s a case that, while daydreaming in their state of privileged seclusion, our cash-rich leaders have turned a blind eye on our ‘hard knock’ lives; totally overlooking the fact that a series of rising energy costs of this magnitude are unsustainable for most families; mine included.

I’ve got no dependent minors and I am employed, yet I still dread the arrival of my bi-monthly ESB bill due to its ridiculously high costs. Therefore, I can only imagine the trauma these hikes are causing, (or are likely to cause), those whose livelihoods were impacted by Covid and who are now trying to plan for Christmas and pay for Santa; especially those already struggling to make ends meet.

I mean, what do Leo, Eamon and Micheál expect us to do…spend our winter nights drinking a bottle of something strong, hunkering down and praying for daylight? It’s about time this trio realised that the onus is on them; meaning they’re a thousand per cent obligated to sort out this fizz-up, and quick!

Being a bright spark myself, (sorry, terrible pun), I’ve come up with two solutions. One, why don’t taxpayers stop footing the bill for Eamon Ryan’s ridiculously expensive set of eight, yep eight, ‘special’ advisers! I mean, if we didn’t have to shell out a whopping ‘€729,669’ annually for a group of know-it-alls to tell the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications how to do his job,  I’m certain we’d have enough money to pay our own electricity bills. I’m not one to cause friction (shameful pun number two), but if an individual needs a team of outsiders to tell them how to do their job – one they secured through being elected by ‘the people’, (not this person) – then it’s time for them to consider a different career. Perhaps a call to your local education training board (ETB) is in order, Minister?

Solution number two could have us collecting the monumental piles of drivel being spewed out on a daily basis by Mr. Ryan et al, harnessing it, and using it to generate the massive amounts of wind and gas needed to drive our power plants for all eternity. Problem solved…next!


May God bless you, Vicky Phelan: You’re some woman

I was so sad to read that cancer campaigner Vicky Phelan has said she has returned home from the US to receive what she describes as ‘palliative chemotherapy’, following the results of a scan which shows she has ‘a number of new tumours’.

Just to remind readers, Ms. Phelan is the extremely courageous lady who, back in 2018, publicly exposed the CervicalCheck screening scandal. Vicky was awarded a €2.5 million court settlement in a case she took against the US laboratory that carried out her own cervical smear test after she’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer following a ‘false negative’ result.

This fearless lady, who, in her fight for justice both for herself and for every Irish woman who was failed by our nation’s national screening programme, has become a source of inspiration to us all.

Indeed, her impact has been felt so strongly, it’s safe to say that Vicky has become both a role model and a leading advocate for health and wellbeing, not just for Irish women, but for women right across the globe. This lady, this mother, who, like Emma Mhic Mhathúna (RIP) and every other women at the core of the 221+ Patient Support Group (established to support women affected by the CervicalCheck Screening Programme), is a passionate and powerful force of nature.

Named by the BBC as one of the ‘100 most influential women from around the world for 2018’, Vicky is (despite devastatingly revealing she’s facing an uphill battle for her very life) characteristically showing not one iota of self-pity. Instead, this saint, this guardian angel, has done what she has always done, she’s thinking of others.

By graciously acknowledging and thanking those who support her, who pray for her, and who send her positive messages, Vicky, in her hour of need, is still placing everyone else first. I wish this warrior, this lioness, this champion of women’s health and her family every single bit of hope and  happiness and, while I know Vicky has the emotional courage to keep fighting, I pray she continues to have the physical strength to battle through. May God bless you Vicky, you’re some woman.


We’re addicted to you FB, you’re a hard habit to break!

Last Monday, Facebook’s outage meant that social media junkies were forced to have a real face-to-face conversation with another human being instead of spending an hour analysing selfies before posting them.

Yep, due to what they’re calling a ‘faulty configuration change’ (is that code for ‘disgruntled employee’?) the social media giant’s services, including Instagram and WhatsApp, went down, meaning there were no food snaps, no cute puppy and kitty pics, and no head-tilt-perfect-pout posts from people who have…no lives!

Given I know several people who spend their entire day posting pics of themselves, so much so they’re in danger of losing their face-to-face, real-life skills, I felt it was my duty to call them to check that they were okay.

When I realised certain people couldn’t ‘log in’ every five minutes to check their notifications, update their status or see how many ‘likes’ their heavily edited, filtered, special-effects modified, rotated and re-sized ‘thigh-gap’ selfie had generated, I became alarmed.

Yep, I know that’s very #ridiculous, #over-protective and #maternal of me; but I was genuinely concerned that a couple of my social media-addicted pals might be panicking that someone, somewhere, had forgotten what they looked like; so I rang to see how their withdrawal was going.

Look folks, there’s only so many hours we can sit in front of a laptop/phone/tablet before we lose our minds, our souls, and damage our eyesight. As a writer, the lenses in my glasses are now so thick I look like Mr. Magoo; as in, I’m visually challenged, not an accident-prone little man! Perhaps it’s time for us all to detox and step away from that device – for a few hours at least!