Paul Healy’s Week


More gardaí needed

I’m not convinced Dublin is more dangerous than other European capitals, but one thing is clear: it has become more unsafe in recent years – or at the very least that perception has now taken hold.

The phenomenon of people filming assaults and then posting the footage online has obviously added to the sense that Dublin can be dangerous, and has certainly put the issue into the spotlight. Perhaps random and unprovoked attacks went on in the past, and just weren’t brought to wider public attention (before the social media era). Still, I think the anecdotal ‘evidence’ is pretty clear: violent attacks are on the increase, and Dublin is less safe than it used to be.

Last week I made the point that the RTE pay scandal would move on, that something else would take its place. That new ‘story’ is public anger over acts of thuggery in Dublin, the news cycle currently  dominated by the fallout from the vicious assault on an American tourist who was set upon by a gang of youths.

The fact that the attack happened close to Store Street Garda station has added to a now-established narrative: that there are not enough gardaí on the beat, and that thugs can brazenly do what they like.

With people now fearful, every effort must be made to restore law and order. We need more gardaí on the beat in Dublin, and we need these thugs that are besmirching our capital city’s reputation to be faced down. Longer sentences on conviction would be welcome too.



Percy French Festival

The annual Percy French Festival, held in the beautiful grounds of Castlecoote House, was a great success. I had the honour of being Master of Ceremonies for all three days.

Guest speakers included Professor Luke Gibbons, Dr Martin Mansergh, Paul Kingsnorth, and renowned journalist Mary Kenny. We were also joined on Friday by Senator Ronan Mullen.

The festival certainly lived up to its reputation as a forum for informed social and cultural discussion. See Alannah Healy’s column on page 16.



Rovers Return

As brutal as the weather was, there was still a great buzz at the Shiven Rovers grounds outside Newbridge today, where the Roscommon District Youth Soccer League Sevens Finals took place.

The rain lashed down mercilessly as boys and girls from a number of clubs lined out in the various deciders. All the young players in action excelled in what were awful conditions. Well done to all involved.

The other thing that struck me (on my second visit there this year) was the excellence of the facilities at Shiven Rovers… including several pitches, and an impressive two-storey clubhouse. There was a large crowd there today and the standard of organisation was excellent, from the stewards overseeing the parking to those involved inside the grounds. The Shiven facilities really are of the highest quality, and a credit to the club.



Go to bed…or else!

Parents to small children in households around the country tonight: “It’s time for bed, off you go…”

Children: “But we’re on school holidays! One more hour, please, please?”

Parents: “Okay, but you have to sit through all of Up for the Match…”

Children: “Goodnight!”



In praise of Limerick

At the start of today’s All-Ireland SHC final I would have been happy enough if Kilkenny dethroned defending champions Limerick. After all, most neutrals eventually tire of a team or individual dominating a sporting competition for too long.

But as today’s good (not classic) final progressed, I began to enjoy Limerick’s relentless march to further glory. As their gladiators swept to another stunning success, I was cheering them on (no disrespect to Kilkenny).

Why? Because, like many neutrals, I’m happy to

trade dissatisfaction over one team’s long-term dominance with an appreciation that we are privileged to be witnesses to greatness, to feats which will be spoken of by generations to come.

As John Kiely’s warriors coasted to the four-in-a-row, many neutrals were probably quite happy they hadn’t been dethroned. Until some team can match Limerick on the big day, they are there to be admired, marvelled at, appreciated; a team of legends, one that’s intent on rewriting the history of hurling.



Dormant lawnmowers…

There was a large attendance at the emergency meeting of the recently-formed Roscommon BOG (Badly overgrown gardens) Club, held at a secret location last night.

Visibly upset (and visibly covered in wet grass), the chairperson explained why the meeting had been called.

“The weather has been so dire, it’s been almost impossible to get the grass cut – as a community, we’re very concerned about this sudden ‘growth’ in the number of overgrown gardens”.

A man who identified himself as ‘Patrick’ – because it’s his name – spoke next.

“The last time I was able to cut the grass in our garden, Ryan Tubridy was odds-on to be next President of Ireland” he lamented.

Next to address the meeting was an elderly man who in normal circumstances unfailingly mows the lawn every Thursday, before then going to the pub for a couple of what he considers to be well-earned pints.

“This summer, due to the horrible weather, I haven’t been able to use the lawnmower since mid-June” he lamented.

A neighbour sympathised. “You must miss the pints”.

“Oh no, I still go out for the pints, it’s important to maintain what one can of one’s routine” the elderly man added, glancing slightly nervously at his wife.

There were more harrowing stories. One person said he was so desperate, he had tried to cut the lawn on a wet day, but his lawnmower had begun to make loud, grunting noises. “It woke the baby in the house next door”.

The following day he tried again, and while his lawnmower worked, the baby in the house next door began to make loud, grunting noises.

Today, a breakthrough, with some rare sunshine. Relieved, the chairperson sent a WhatsApp to all in the club, asking if they were happy to disband. Nobody replied, as they were all out mowing their lawns.