Paul Healy’s Week


Seeking John Rogers

It was a strange week, right enough.

Of course the Burke family took it by the scruff of the neck. It had been a little while since we’d heard from the Burkes – or seen them – but they were back this week, returning to the spotlight with an exclusive new video short that rivalled any of those ‘Harry & Meghan’ trailers on Netflix.

You must have seen it…or maybe you didn’t. But half the country has seen this latest footage of ‘Indignation: The Burke Family’ which premiered across social media on Thursday.

The location was a hotel room, where the Wilson’s Hospital School Board of Management were due to discuss the case of suspended teacher Enoch Burke. The controversial teacher (since dismissed), his siblings and their mother caused such a disturbance, gardaí were called.

The scene shows patient gardaí standing by as members of the family repeatedly chant ‘Where is John Rogers?’

I wondered who this John Rogers is. Was it the former Attorney General? Apparently not. Who could this elusive person be, this man who wields such power and influence?

It turns out Mr Rogers is chairperson of the school’s board of management, and was due to chair Thursday’s disciplinary hearing. It is understood that Mr Rogers wasn’t present because he had taken ill the previous evening, not that any such detail would placate the very noisy Burkes.

Meanwhile, Paschal was in trouble. It seems strange –

in keeping with the week – that question marks over relatively small expenditure on posters to do with an election over six years ago could threaten the career of one of our most prominent politicians. But the fate of Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe was looking surprisingly perilous as the weekend went on, particularly when the focus switched from non-declared election expenses to his close ties with businessman Michael Stone. The controversy continues as I write (the 2020 election now implicated), but I tend to agree with Matt Cooper and Pat Rabbitte who both tut-tutted at the weekend about how rather unscandalous our scandals are these days, compared to the ‘glory days’ of Haughey, Burke, Lawlor, Lowry & Co.

The strange week continued, as if mysteriously controlled by the dauntingly formidable Burkes. Johnny Rotten might be Ireland’s Eurovision entry, the headlines teased. Kilmacud Crokes barely had their hands on the All-Ireland Club trophy when reports emerged of them having an extra player on the pitch in the closing stages. And still there was no sign of John Rogers.

Argos pulling out of Ireland was bad enough for their staff; the news also played with our emotions…do we file Argos visits in our memory bank as a cold, soulless part of tedious afternoons in shopping centres – or as cherished links with our youth that should now be remembered with a warm sense of nostalgia?

Across the water, Manchester City manager Pep had a rant at his own team’s supporters. Strange week. UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was silly enough to film a social media video from the back of a moving car…while not wearing a seatbelt.

Barry Cowen and Willie O’Dea were let loose on national radio to defend Paschal and keep the vultures at bay (as it was radio, I couldn’t tell if they were wearing capes or not). New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern declared ‘I’m out’ at just 42 years of age. Sales of Prince Harry’s book topped 20,000 in Ireland. A British newspaper called Paul Mescal British…again.

You may say it’s all fine, but is it really? Some of this could have been avoided. We needed a hero this week. Where was John Rogers?



Over the moon…

The newspapers and websites note that newly-weds GAA legend Mick O’Dwyer (86) and Geraldine McGirr (65) are very happy.

Meanwhile, 93-year-old retired astronaut ‘Buzz’ Aldrin and his partner, Dr Anca V Faur (63), are also very happy, following their wedding on Friday.

And the Daily Telegraph sub-editor who came up with the headline ‘Over the moon: Buzz Aldrin ties knot at 93’ is presumably also very happy (maybe even buzzing).



Super Saka

A short Sky Sports feature on Bukayo Saka before the big Arsenal-Manchester United game today confirmed what has been pretty obvious about the young Arsenal star: that he is a very likeable and modest young man.

Sky took Saka back to his old school (mind you, at 21 years of age, he can’t be that long gone!) and staged a quiz between the Arsenal ace and some current pupils (and a couple of his former teachers). His interaction with them was a refreshing insight into how grounded he is – even as his dancing feet and brilliant football brain propel him towards superstardom.

In the match itself, Saka delivered another sensational performance, capped by a great goal. He is the most exciting player to emerge from the English football grassroots in many, many years.



Living forever?

On a break while working from home, disaster strikes as I inadvertently catch five minutes of daytime TV on RTE. It’s a world I’m unfamiliar with.

Dáithí and Sinead are asking their studio guests about new research which suggests scientists might be able to reverse ageing in the near future.

Initial experimentation on mice has apparently increased their life expectancy by 23%. The way Dáithí and Sinead were talking, this will be trialled on humans within five years, and they (Dáithí and Sinead, whatever about the scientists) reckon people might “live forever” in the future.

As I was taking all this in, the hosts turned to an expert on video link…who else but our old friend, Professor Luke O’Neill. “It’s like turning a dial!” Luke enthused about the reverse ageing breakthrough, while I contemplated a future in which the genial professor and Pat Kenny talk science for eternity.

Naturally, omnipresent Luke was very cheerful about the prospect of us all living to be at least 200 years of age. I wonder what John Rogers would make of it all?