Paul Healy’s Week


Help, please…

Having inadvertently subjected myself to about 30 seconds (something about a parish quiz) of The 2 Johnnies Late Night Lock In (RTE 2) tonight, I’m frantically searching for an email address for the RTE complaints department (that, or the proverbial stiff whiskey)…


‘Solstice’ success

Tonight’s 10th anniversary concert by Roscommon Solstice Choir attracted an extraordinary crowd to the beautiful venue, our much-loved Sacred Heart Church. It was a great night, befitting this special milestone.

On pages 20 & 21, the Solstice Choir’s own report on the event is published, along with a number of photographs from the concert.

Given that all seating in the church was taken up, and there were a number of attendees also standing, estimates of a remarkable crowd of 900-1000 people are no exaggeration.

The concert itself was a terrific, uplifting three-hour extravaganza, with the superb Eimear & Andrew Reynolds (Musical Directors) leading the choir through its repertoire, and a number of special guest artists adding their distinguished voices.

This was a great night of entertainment in a beautiful setting, and with the added bonus of over €3,000 being raised for the Sacred Heart Church Restoration Fund.

It was a celebration of the choir’s 10th anniversary, and also a very welcome social gathering, with people from all over the county delighted in this post-lockdown era to mingle and chat on such a scale.

Eugene Murphy, as since the formation of the choir in 2013, was master of ceremonies, while Roscommon Solstice Choir chairperson John F Hanley wrapped up the formalities in a heartfelt address during which he thanked the very many people who help to make this the great success story it is.

Congratulations to all associated with Roscommon Solstice Choir on this 10th anniversary milestone.


VAR controversy

So, how’s that introduction of VAR going in the Premier League?

The Video Assistant Referee system was introduced in top-flight English football a few years ago, and it’s fair to say that for all its positives, VAR has also been a source of controversy and frustration.

When big decisions are called wrong – moreso perhaps when apparently straightforward calls are messed up – managers, players, supporters and pundits become very frustrated with the officials operating the system.

Another frustration relates to the often lengthy delays in matches as varying camera angles are checked for what are often very marginal considerations.

And VAR is also bringing anomalies ‘into play’ – a way of looking at the game which is at variance with all we have ever known. For example, a beautifully crafted goal could be disallowed a full minute or so after a foul (as determined by VAR) has occurred way up the pitch.

Conceivably, a penalty could be awarded to Team A (following a VAR review) after Team B has broken downfield and scored at the other end!

On Saturday, Newcastle’s winning goal against Arsenal was subject to three VAR checks before being awarded: Had the ball gone over the endline before being crossed? Was there a foul in the build-up? Was a player offside?

Naturally, opposing managers – following long-established tradition – usually view VAR calls differently, i.e. in direct relation to how their team has been affected. Eddie Howe (Newcastle) thought it was “a good goal” – but Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was fuming, labelling the three-VAR-decisions-in-one goal “a disgrace”.

Then, on Monday evening, the VAR people were very busy again as the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium hosted an astonishing game between Spurs and Chelsea.

This was wonderful viewing for neutrals watching on Sky Sports, with two players sent off, multiple yellow cards, Spurs players limping off injured (unfortunate, but added to the drama), five disallowed goals, and 22 minutes of added time being played. Oh yes, and four goals that were allowed.

The evening’s absolute chaos was by no means all down to VAR; it was just an epic and breathtakingly entertaining game, a gift from the football Gods!


Israel’s response

According to an RTE online report, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not regret describing the Israeli response to the 7th of October Hamas attack as “something more approaching revenge”.

I hadn’t heard the Taoiseach’s original comment. Apparently he said last week that the Israeli onslaught in Gaza is not just self-defence, but more like revenge.

Something I like about Varadkar is that he is a straight-talker who (more often than not) has the courage to stick by something he has said, even if it’s controversial. One might not always agree with him, but it’s refreshing to see a senior politician standing his ground and not capitulating when criticised.

Besides, I agree with him in this instance. The Israeli response to the reprehensible savagery of Hamas has itself been disgusting. One might be sceptical of reports on the death toll that emanate from Gaza – latest claims are that 10,000 people have been killed by Israel in attacks (in four weeks) – but the UN has said the area is becoming “a children’s graveyard”.

Meanwhile, in a phone call today with Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden discussed ramping up humanitarian deliveries into Gaza, emphasised the importance of protecting Palestinian civilians during “military operations” – and discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages.

Many of us will feel he might also have insisted on an immediate ceasefire (i.e. an end to the killing of innocent people), but it wasn’t to be.


George’s exhibition

Congratulations to George Naughton (13) whose art exhibition was officially opened this evening by TV personality/musician/podcaster Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin. George’s art is beautiful, and a visit to the exhibition – being hosted at the new Anam Gallery, located behind ETL Gifts, Main Street, Roscommon – is highly recommended. Make sure to call in!