Paul Healy’s Week


Hamlet without Prince

Rather like the senior management of An Post, I didn’t attend this evening’s special Council meeting on the future of the postal services in Roscommon Town.

However, I did watch every minute of the two-hour meeting online, taking notes throughout (see report on pages 18-19). It wasn’t the most enthralling Thursday evening of my life; in fact it wasn’t even in the top ten.

To be fair to our councillors (and the Oireachtas members present), what do you do when a State body arrogantly lands a hammer blow on an unsuspecting community on a January day (as An Post did recently)?

Readers will be aware that An Post confirmed its intention to threaten decades of good relations with the Roscommon public (or, as they prefer to frame it, ‘move to a contractor-run post office model’).

In short, the magnificent Roscommon Post Office building which adorns the Square in our county town is soon to be emptied of its vibrancy and energy. It will, to paraphrase the classic Monty Python dead parrot sketch, be an ‘ex-post office’. (‘This post office is no more. It has ceased to be’ etc, etc).

Having shredded the status quo, An Post will usher in a new era, in the form of a new postmaster, who will base the service in another building (most likely a supermarket or some such entity). An Post will then seek to cash in by selling the iconic red-brick building that is such a landmark for thousands of Roscommon people.

This evening’s meeting was notable for the absence of any representation on behalf of An Post (decision-makers or PR gurus). While this wasn’t particularly surprising, it certainly left a sour taste. It also left our public representatives venting in the wilderness (notwithstanding that the meeting was being livestreamed).

The politicians fired broadsides of varying degrees of frustration and anger at the ‘invisible enemy’. With An Post having disrespectfully turned down the invitation to attend, it was all a fairly pointless exercise, very much ‘Hamlet without the Prince’ territory. At least those present were able to underscore a communal message: (A) The people of Roscommon are angered by An Post’s plans; (B) There is united opposition to same.

Predictably, it was decided that a Council deputation (with local Oireachtas members) should seek a meeting with both An Post management and Minister Jack Chambers. They will have done remarkably well if they can make any progress with An Post’s shy and retiring decision-makers/PR gurus.


Monkey business…

Some mornings, just before leaving on the school run, I’ll switch the TV on for a few minutes to check in with Sky News. It’s the simple pleasures in life, after all…

When I turned the TV on this morning, some channel was showing one of those ‘animals do the craziest things’ type programmes.

“Never tease a monkey” the presenter quite solemnly advised/warned.

As I pondered that unexpected counsel at 8.30 am, I realised there wasn’t time to switch to Sky News. And so it was off on the school run, with that very clear advice – to never tease a monkey – revolving in my mind.

Ah yes, every day really is a school day…


In praise of Del Boy

I read online that David Jason is 84 today (any excuse to mention the English actor is to be grasped with enthusiasm).

Even if I am one of the world’s greatest proponents of proclaiming Fawlty Towers to be the best sitcom of all time, I am respectful of the claims of Only Fools and Horses.

I actually considered the latter to be a comedy-drama, and in that sense almost a different genre to the more slapstick chaos associated with the hotel in Torquay.

Only Fools and Horses had elements of quaint drama about it… it was nostalgic, essentially celebrated family, and we invested a lot in the characters.

David Jason has had many career successes (A Touch of Frost, Open All Hours, etc) but will always be most revered for his role as Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses. Happy birthday to the great man. (You can enjoy almost daily repeats of Only Fools and Horses on TV these days).


When Tommy met Paul

Tonight’s Tommy Tiernan Show was a really good watch. The host’s chat with former Arsenal and England soccer star Paul Merson was both sad and inspirational.

Merson spoke with great honesty and humility about his addictions over the years – alcohol, drugs and gambling – starkly outlining the devastating impact on both himself and his relationships.

He came across as a very genuine and brave man who is winning his battle with addiction, while certainly not complacent about the potential for pitfalls arising.

Tiernan handled the interview superbly, and there was a strong bond between the two. Readers who missed it can catch up via the RTÉ Player.


Room to improve?

RTE TV’s live coverage of today’s welcome return of power-sharing in Northern Ireland is billed as an ‘RTE News Special’. The next programme listed is ‘Room to Improve’. Indeed!


Hyde sideshows!

I kind of enjoyed Roscommon v Galway at the Hyde today. People criticised it, but that wind was as unreasonable as a monkey that has been persistently teased (I do hope readers read the entire column).

Admittedly, most of my enjoyment came from watching Davy Burke engage in good-humoured, light squabbling with the sideline official.

Well, that and watching Galway goalkeeper Connor ‘Slow kickout’ Gleeson auditioning for Dancing with the (GAA) Stars (slow set strictly).

Anyways, I was glad the Rossies eked out a league point…


‘New’ bank holiday

This is the ‘new’ bank holiday. Many self-employed people find themselves in a slight quandary on such momentous occasions. Do we work, or relax?

I did a bit of both. After some remote working, we settled down to enjoy Narcos on Netflix. It was either that or consider teasing a monkey (I do hope readers read the entire column).


The late John Bruton

This week’s column ends on a sad note. The death has just been announced of former Taoiseach John Bruton. I interviewed him on a couple of occasions. A major political figure in our history, he most certainly did the State some service. May he rest in peace.