Paul Healy’s Week

All week…

There we all were, hunkered down in our communal plight, digesting the latest restrictions which the political establishment had sorrowfully imposed upon the people. At least we were all in it together…

It was August 19, and the nation was resigned to more hardship. Meanwhile, on the golf course in Galway, Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe, perturbed by the weather, decided to finish his round after just nine holes. I am glad that he arranged to meet playing partner Lorraine Higgins – a former Labour Party Senator, now a barrister – for a drink in The Station House Hotel, prior to the meal. I am grateful he did, because it made it possible for me to read the following sentence in last weekend’s Sunday Times: “He (Woulfe) walked into the dining suite with Higgins and the Moroccan ambassador, and had not noticed a table plan in the hall”.

There’s something about that sentence – it reads like a line from a James Bond script – which sums up how out of touch and arrogant some of those involved in Golfgate are!

“He walked into the dining suite with Higgins and the Moroccan ambassador…”

It’s been a revealing weekend for those of us who still have any appetite left for Golfgate. I actually don’t think Judge Woulfe’s presence at the Oireachtas Golf Society event – ill-judged as it was – is in itself a resigning matter. I can see why Chief Justice Susan Denham (who conducted a review) concluded that it would have been “unjust and disproportionate” for Judge Woulfe to resign. However, some of the responses given by Seamus Woulfe to Denham now cast serious doubt on whether or not he is actually befitting of his status as a Supreme Court Judge.

Transcripts from the exchanges between the two reveal a total absence of humility (and dubious judgement) on Woulfe’s part. He takes no responsibility for what happened. He is critical of the media, and of Government; even allowing for the fact that his comments were made directly to Chief Justice Denham, it rankles that a judge would cross that line, i.e. criticising elected public representatives. Separation of powers?

His responses were arrogant, self-pitying, lacking in an appreciation of why the public was so angry. On balance, I don’t think this sorry affair should cost him his job, but I do think he has shown poor judgement, and a total lack of humility, and would be well served to issue a new statement and a suitably humble apology.

Meanwhile…anyone know how the Moroccan ambassador played on the day?


Saturday & Sunday

Thank God for the Premier League…

It’s been great fun these last couple of weeks, well, unless your name is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The football is exciting and the goals are flying in. A memorable weekend began with a great game between Leeds United and Manchester City. As a Leeds fan – and even though Marcelo Bielsa’s team have returned to the Premier League in style – I feared City would halt our gallop. The first 20 minutes or so were worrying, Pep’s men zipping the ball around with menace, Raheem Sterling threatening mayhem from the wing.

Leeds settled however, and once they did, they more than matched their illustrious opponents. Remarkably, Leeds had the greater share of possession. A superb match ended 1-1.

Sunday was bizarre. I don’t like giving out about players, but some of the Manchester United defending (against Spurs) was not just pitiful, it was an insult to the club’s proud history. Harry Maguire was pretty woeful, and Paul Pogba was a disgrace.

Spurs are going very well under Jose Mourinho, but it’s been a disastrous start to the season for Manchester United. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is out of his depth at this level and I cannot see him surviving much longer. Nice guy, but the axe will fall.

Later on Sunday, an even more bizarre game as champions Liverpool collapsed against an in-form Aston Villa. Led by the brilliant Jack Grealish, Villa romped to a remarkable 7-2 win. Leicester’s 3-0 home defeat to West Ham completed a day of shocks.

I wouldn’t worry too much if I was a Liverpool supporter. Although their defending was dreadful, they will overpower most teams. It’s a chaotic landscape at the moment, but Liverpool are still the team to beat – with the erratic Manchester City likely to be their closest challengers.


Sunday & Monday

News on Sunday evening of a ‘leak’ which stunned the nation. NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team) had sent a letter to the Government recommending that the whole country move to Level 5 in the Living with Covid plan.

The news was greeted with shock, as it was unexpected and appeared to be in conflict with the Government’s recently-unveiled staged approach. It was fairly obvious, I think, that the Government would reject the proposal, but it is still the case that thousands of people went to bed on Sunday night deeply worried, maybe even traumatised, by the prospect of a full lockdown being imposed again.

On Monday, the Government confirmed that every county would move to Level 3 status with effect from midnight on Tuesday night. That’s a big setback for local pubs, restaurants and hotels – amongst other businesses – and of course it’s also inconvenient for the wider public.

I really feel for the publicans and restaurants owners who have had to close their doors so suddenly again. With Covid cases rising however, it is clear that the Government had to move to Level 3 at least. Hopefully if we all adhere to the guidelines with renewed discipline we can flatten the curve (again) and avoid even more grim restrictions being imposed in the coming weeks.



More histrionics from Deputy Mattie McGrath, the High King of (sometimes mock) outrage. More bombast from Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, this time in response to some mischievious teasing by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

We can rely on Deputy McGrath to seldom miss an opportunity to engage in some straightforward populism. Mattie, Tipp’s finest; that’s TIPP (Tactic-Is-Passionate-Populism).

Meanwhile, I agree with a tweeter who said that Michael Healy-Rae is happy to go on the attack, but not so good at taking criticism!

This duo – and brother in arms Danny Healy-Rae – sometimes remind me of Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show.

Maybe that’s unfair – to Statler and Waldorf.