Paul Healy’s Week


Some compromise…

They had the cheek to call it a ‘compromise’…

  The revelation that former Kilkenny hurling star DJ Carey received a 99.4% write-down from AIB on a €9.5m debt has rightly left people stunned. 

  The bank secured a High Court judgement for just over €9.5m in 2011, the debt relating to multi-million euro loans taken out by Carey for exclusive properties at Mount Juliet and the K Club. 

  RTE has now revealed that AIB struck a deal with Carey in 2017 which saw the sporting legend paying just €60,000 in settlement of the massive debt – with the remainder of the €9.5m being written off. 

  Documents seen by RTE quote the bank referring to a ‘settlement’ and a ‘compromise’. 

  It’s not language that I and hundreds of thousands of citizens in this country quickly associate with our normally more cold-hearted financial institutions. 

  In County Roscommon, thousands of people have gone into mortgage arrears at various times over the past 15 years or so, in the wake of economic crashes. 

  Few if any of those people will entertain you with anecdotes about our increasingly heartless banks offering generous (or even reasonable) settlements to stressed borrowers. 

  Across the SME landscape, derelict office spaces – windows coated in cobwebs – reflect the shattered dreams of so many hard-working, courageous people. 

  For hundreds of thousands of people across the country, it is infuriating to read of this astonishing and apparently preferential engagement with Carey. 


Weekend GAA

On Saturday, Mayo were very impressive in comfortably defeating Kerry in the Allianz NFL. 

On Sunday, Roscommon recorded a good win against Armagh, Enda Smith’s penalty the decisive score. The second half was thrilling stuff, played against a backdrop of a great atmosphere in the Hyde. 

  As against Tyrone and Galway in the previous rounds, a superb second-half performance earned Roscommon victory. 

  The last time I saw Jarlath Burns in the flesh was when he was leaning against one of the rails in the stand at Hyde Park (on the Athlone Road side) – flanked by three or four friends – at a Roscommon-Armagh game a few years ago. 

  On Sunday, he was introduced to the attendance at half-time, Burns now the president-elect of the GAA. He is an impressive guy and there is every reason to expect his presidency to be a big success. 

  There was a huge crowd in the Hyde. As I note in my musings on page 39, Armagh supporters were out in force on Sunday. Indeed many Armagh folk spent a night or two in Roscommon town over the weekend, a welcome boost for hotels, B&Bs and other businesses. 


Musings on Clones

There’s something special about the ‘away days’ during the GAA league season. 

  Now, after a remarkable win in Salthill, Roscommon footballers’ next stop on the road will be at the famous St Tiernach’s Park in Clones. 

  My first visit to the town wasn’t for a game. It was 1986, shortly after Clones’ most famous resident – Barry McGuigan – had downed the great Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road on his way to winning the world featherweight boxing title.  

  A (very young) sports reporter with the Cavan Leader at the time, I was working on some story. On arriving in the town square, I noticed the McGuigan family shop, which was run by Barry’s mum. What surprised me – even in those less celebrity-obsessed and pre-social media days – was the fact that the world champion’s flashy sports car was parked in the square, across from the shop. Photos of McGuigan proudly behind the wheel of his sporty number often featured in the papers. 

  On closer inspection, I could see the words ‘Clones Cyclone’ emblazoned on the vehicle. I called into the shop, where the champ’s mother was chatting to a local. She struck me as a lovely, down to earth lady. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Barry. There ends the anecdote, rather as abruptly as the gallant Pedroza’s hopes had ended once McGuigan landed that famous right hook some months earlier. 

  I’ve been to Clones many times since, for Roscommon matches, for Ulster finals too. It’s a great GAA venue, steeped in tradition. Arriving there this Sunday, Roscommon supporters will know the league is really in full swing, strutting its stuff come rain or shine (often the coldest league days are the most memorable!)…taking the faithful deep into the type of ‘away day’ mystery tour that is the essence of this great competition. 


A trip to Leinster House

A local media seminar in Leinster House today gave a few local hacks (yours truly included) an excuse to be wined and dined in the plush Houses of the Oireachtas, while (genuinely) making some contacts and gathering information on the latest media services being provided by the Press Office.  

  The friendly Leinster House staff gave the assembled media guests – all from Connacht – a very interesting tour of the Dáil and Senate chambers, their full history outlined. This was followed by a guide to the services of the Houses of the Oireachtas Broadcasting unit, located in Kildare Street (quite a bewildering and impressive array of studios and offices). 

  In the evening, it was time to relax and enjoy drinks in the Visitors’ Bar, followed by Dinner in the beautiful adjoining restaurant. We were joined by a number of TDs and senators from the various constituencies in Connacht. En route to the bar, there was even the bonus of a meeting in the Dáil corridor with Danny Healy-Rae, followed by a quick greeting from Michael Healy-Rae, who paused his phone call to say hello (yes, cap was firmly in place). 

  Later still, a few of us retired to the nearby Doyle’s Bar, where we disagreed about the balance of power in Connacht football, and agreed on who we consider to be the three most impressive rural TDs in the country.