National disgrace: Why do some animal rights protestors feel they are above the law?

Our man Frank on being unimpressed by the Grand National protestors; A heartwarming story of a Belfast girl’s initiative and generosity of spirit; Deputy Paul Murphy’s ‘rant’ on the Joe Biden visit… and reaching out to a fan in Seattle…

One of the big issues that’s always in the news is animal welfare. Of course, there are lots of legitimate concerns about the manner in which animals are treated – from domestic pets to circus animals to racehorses, there are genuine concerns about their welfare. It is only right and proper that such worries are voiced.

And yet it seems to me that a lot of animal rights protestors have little or no regard for law and order and feel they can literally take the law into their own hands. Many times we have seen such protestors disrupt hunts – oftentimes they attack both riders and horses.

Last Saturday, a group of protestors decided to disrupt the biggest horse race of the year – the Grand National – by breaking into Aintree Racecourse, climbing over fences, chaining themselves to the railings, and generally doing enough damage to delay the start of the race by 15 minutes. And yet, as so many people in the horseracing industry pointed out, all their actions really did was cause anxiety and upset to the horses themselves – and further annoy people who actually share their concerns over the treatment of all animals.

Peaceful and law-abiding protest is everyone’s right, but from I can see, many animal rights protestors seem to think they are above the law. A hundred or more of them were arrested on Saturday following their disgraceful behaviour. I hope they discover that they too have to obey the law.

As for the race itself, a few days ago I read an article about trainer, Lucinda Russell, and Sligo jockey, Derek Fox. On reading it, I was convinced they were going to win – and so I decided to back them. Needless to say I changed my mind, and then watched with ever-increasing despair as Fox rode Corach Rambler to Grand National success. At 10 to 1 (at the time), I missed out on a little windfall!

As for the animal rights people, the deaths of three horses at the huge Aintree fences would surely have strengthened their case without any of their disgusting behaviour. Hopefully some day they will resort to peaceful, mannerly protest. I won’t hold my breath.

Jasmine shows individuals can make a difference

For Christians all around the world, Easter is a hugely important time. Even for those people who may have become a little lax in the practising of their religion, there is a feeling that Easter represents a new beginning, and that, along with the arrival of spring, it gives us a bounce in our step as we look forward to better and brighter times.

And yet, as always, there are people who haven’t so much to look forward to. Included in that number would be many of the children who find themselves as patients in hospital beds.

In 2016, a then six-year-old girl, Jasmine Parker, asked her mother if the Easter Bunny visits sick children in hospital, and when her mother said she didn’t think so, the little girl decided to do something about it.

That year the little girl launched an appeal for Easter eggs. Having asked for donations via Facebook, she managed to distribute 171 eggs to children in Belfast hospitals. Each year since then (apart from during Covid), she has continued to gather Easter eggs for hospitalised children. The Easter just past, Jasmine – along with her mother and father – distributed an amazing 2,000-plus eggs to kids in hospitals all around Belfast.

It is a common enough thing for older folks like me to criticise our young people from time to time – we put the blame for all kinds of things at their doorstep – so it is really uplifting to read about someone like Jasmine, who, at six years of age, was sufficiently caring to think about children less fortunate than herself.

As I say, Easter is a time for new beginnings and new hope. Is there anything more inspiring and uplifting than the story of Belfast girl, Jasmine Parker? If ever there was a hero, she  surely is one. Funny enough, her actions inspired some big companies to get involved in a supportive way. Whenever someone tells you that individuals can’t make a difference, don’t believe them. Tell them the story of young Jasmine Parker. That will put them right.

Paul Murphy should focus on issues affecting people here

It’s Sunday morning as I am writing this, and the cynics and sceptics have had their say about the visit of President Joe Biden to Ireland, and especially to Mayo.

One of my least favourite politicians, People before Profit TD, Paul Murphy, has had a big rant about Biden being a warmonger and a climate polluter, among other things.

Now Murphy is entitled to his opinion, but surely the economic benefit to Ireland as a result of the president’s visit has to be taken into account. As a nation, it has to have been hugely beneficial to have had four days of worldwide coverage of the US president’s visit.

I make no secret of the fact that I am not a political person, but as an old age pensioner who is, like many of my generation, struggling with the outrageous rise in the cost of living, it is my opinion that our politicians should be concentrating more on the problems our own people are having rather than on the foreign policies of the US.

What Paul Murphy thinks of Joe Biden and his policies won’t make one bit of difference, but maybe if our TDs tried to solve our homelessness issues and health service deficits we might all be better off.

Anyway, my mind went back to the years I spent working in both Dundalk and Ballina as I watched the excitement and the huge welcome Biden got in both towns. I can only say that I really enjoyed the coverage and I imagine the craic in both towns must have been fantastic.

In my days (and long nights) in Dundalk, I lived over The Jockeys pub, where my very sound landlord was the late Jimmy McGeough. The same Jimmy bought The Windsor Bar & Restaurant where the Biden crew visited. It is now run by his son, Donal. It all brought back great memories of good times in Dundalk back in the 1970s.

Anyway, I have to say that I thought the visit of the American president was great for this country. It is my opinion that the thousands of ordinary Irish citizens who turned out to welcome him represent the feelings of our people far more than the People before Profit TD, Paul Murphy, who – by the way – is on €107,000 a year, meaning homelessness won’t be an issue for him.

And finally…

As we rambled around Roscommon the other day, Carol and myself ran into an old friend of Carol’s, Theresa Lynch. During our lengthy chat, Theresa reminded me of the days and nights of The Karaoke King, and of the fact that her daughter, Rachel, used be one of my resident singers on occasions when the Queen herself, Dympna Collins, was unavailable.

Rachel now lives in Seattle, but by the modern miracle of technology she gets to read the Roscommon People on the Internet every week, and loves to hear of all the happenings on the old sod!

It’s been many years now since the King was on the road, and it was nice to be reminded of the fun and craic that we had during those wild days, so I just want to say hello to Rachel all those miles away in Seattle. If at some point – like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond and all the other older acts who came out of retirement – I ever make a comeback, she might yet get to sing again with the Karaoke King! (That’s of course is if Dympna couldn’t make it).

Anyway, it’s good to know that over there in America Rachel is thriving, and reading the Roscommon People.