Paul Healy’s Week

Thursday

On Question Time (BBC 1) tonight, after the panel had finished discussing the current political woes of Britain’s new Prime Minister, they got down to more important matters.

An audience member – an elderly woman with a very furrowed brow – got to ask her question. Will the lights be switched off this winter, she asked, her face creased with worry.

(It’s the same in Ireland. People are worried. There is fear about opening energy bills this winter, fear too that power blackouts could be a reality in the coming months, a prospect which Tánaiste Leo Varadkar refused to rule out when speaking earlier today).

In the Question Time studio, the Government Minister on the panel spent half his contribution massaging his own ego (“I chair the committee that…” and “When I was in the US…”) while others – including Piers Morgan – admitted they were concerned. There was much talk of the need to build up our reserves of energy supplies, to invest more in renewable energy too. There was a sense that, while blackouts – which would pose such challenges to households, businesses, schools, etc. – may still be unlikely, on this one, our fate in not in our own hands. Some panel members advised that we should be saving on energy now.

At various points across the hour, the programme featured the usual weak quips that pass for humour on such shows, but the woman with the furrowed brow just looked sad. She wasn’t enjoying Question Time, and she is scared about the winter that’s coming.

 

Friday

He hasn’t gone away, you know…

Today’s Irish Independent rather breathlessly reports on audacious efforts to get outspoken and ever so slightly egotistical Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry back into the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party.

What’s going on? Marc only walked out on the party a mere 12 months ago! The former FF rebel is now an Independent, but it seems he may be on the way back.

This is after our old friend Barry Cowen – described by the Indo as the ‘Midlands Machiavelli’ – tabled a proposal to have Marc readmitted to Fianna Fáil. Presumably this proposed return is to make it easier for Barry (a Laois-Offaly TD) and Marc to work closely on trying to plot Micheál Martin’s downfall. For some unexplained reason Deputy Cowen apparently views himself as leadership material.

If I was the Taoiseach, I wouldn’t be too complacent, but neither would I be losing too much sleep over this. Meanwhile, I wonder if the lads have been in touch with Willie O’Dea?

 

Saturday

The nation wakes with a sense of shock, disbelief and grief, as the enormity of yesterday’s tragedy in Donegal begins to sink in. Ten people are now confirmed to have died due to an explosion at a service station in Creeslough. Our hearts go out to the devastated local community, and to all in this beautiful county.

May those who lost their lives in this unimaginable tragedy rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, with those who are injured and traumatised, and also with the members of the emergency services.

 

Sunday

We went to the Hyde today, armed with coats, hats, umbrella and expectations. The weather was poor on the way in, and worse was to come.

It turned out to be a wonderful day for Strokestown and Boyle, who’ve set up an all-northern county senior final after excellent wins against Roscommon Gaels and St Brigid’s respectively.

I’ve a few thoughts on the Strokestown-Roscommon Gaels match on page 43 this week, while Seamus Duke’s reports on both semi-finals (and Mick McCormack’s photos) are also in our sports section, and online.

On a very busy weekend for Roscommon GAA, St Dominic’s and Éire Óg qualified for the county intermediate final, while St Ronan’s and Padraig Pearses are through to the junior decider. Boyle won the Ladies intermediate final while St Croan’s edged past Michael Glavey’s to take the junior honours.

Back to the Hyde on Sunday…yes, we got soaked. It was just like ‘old’ times…but the bitterly cold hands/feet often encountered on National League/FBD excursions is still to come (and to be savoured when it happens). It really is great to be back at club games, after that unwelcome intervention by the pandemic.

 

Monday

But seriously…why the recent increase in membership of the NADWGW club?

NADWGW is – of course – the ‘Not acknowledging drivers who give way’ club.

You know the drill. You’re on the road and there’s a turn-off for a supermarket or some such place. There’s a motorist inching along, hoping they get the nod. You give the nod/flash the lights. You’re giving way…you’re just dripping in humanity. A regular spot is opposite the arts centre and mart in Roscommon town. Or the turn into Dunnes or Topline Wards.

Anyway, those of us who belong to the HTGW club – the ‘Happy to give way’ club, that is – don’t expect a lot. But the traditional acknowledgement has always been appreciated. A nod/wave/thumbs up, etc. are all options available to the driver who is the recipient of the thoughtful gesture.

Now, while it’s not a full-blown crisis yet, sadly I must officially report this week that there is at least a slight increase in instances of said drivers simply availing of the generosity without giving the remotest sign of appreciation.

It is still the case that most people courteously acknowledge the HTGW club, but the NADWGW – the  ‘Not acknowledging drivers who give way’ club – is regrettably growing in membership.

Those of us who belong to the HTGW club (‘Happy to give way’ – please, keep up!) are a bit miffed. We are now seriously considering abandoning our policy of occasionally giving way to two cars in a row, while our special offer – giving way to three or more cars at junctions near schools between the times of 8.35 and 8.50 on weekday mornings – is in serious peril.

A spokesperson for our group said: “We don’t want to make a big issue of this. We realise people are stressed. But it can be frustrating to see people availing of our generosity and then very rudely just ploughing straight ahead without any acknowledgement…as if we didn’t exist. We’d like to see the traditional courtesies – which are still being extended by most drivers – being applied by all”.

*Next week: Why do some pedestrians crossing the street not acknowledge it when motorists give way to them?

 

Tuesday

An ordinary evening has been lit up by a magnificent victory by the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup play-off against Scotland in Hampden Park. Ireland went into this game as underdogs but a brilliantly taken goal by substitute Amber Barrett secured a historic win, sending Ireland into the 2023 World Cup.

The fact that Barrett, who is from Donegal and has close family links with Creeslough, so movingly dedicated her goal to the victims of Friday’s tragedy was deeply emotional.

As for the progress of this Irish team, manager Vera Pauw came with a big reputation and she and her players have certainly delivered. Ireland’s qualification is a huge boost for the game here and for women’s sport in general. Congratulations to all involved.