Paul Healy’s Week


Not so Keane…

There are reports that Roy Keane could be in the frame to be next manager of the Republic of Ireland. He was a magnificent footballer – a truly great leader – and can be a very entertaining pundit on TV, but I don’t think he’s the man to manage the Irish team.

Keane is great on Sky Sports, but he very rarely talks actual tactics, which points to a man who isn’t quite in touch with the modern-day game. Also, he remains a temperamental figure, and it’s almost impossible to imagine him not having flare-ups with players and distracting confrontations with the media if he took over the Irish team.

I loved him as a player… bossing midfield for Manchester United, covering the proverbial every blade of grass… menacing, marvellous, selfless and superb. As a pundit, he is part-serious, part-pantomime villain, an entertaining combination that makes Keane box office. Making him Irish manager would be an intriguing move, and it would pack the Aviva; but it would also be a high-risk appointment. Let the Keane legend remain as is. We don’t need a new circus.


A claim too far…

Between fake news, conspiracy theories, and dubious use of ChatGPT/AI, it’s difficult to know what (and who) to believe these days.

Midst all the crazy claims out there, the most bizarre one I encountered this week was when a local man –with a straight face – told me he recently cut his lawn successfully in one session (and without tearing his hair out, or swearing).

Beyond belief, I think you will agree.




Live music treats

The Roscommon Easter Festival is underway. After the wild weather that provided an unwelcome backdrop to the live outdoor music in the Square at Christmas, it was great that this evening’s entertainment was blessed with very pleasant (if chilly) conditions.

First up was the Roscommon Men’s Choir, a fantastic addition to the cultural life of the community. They were followed by Vinegar Bill, a terrific folk/trad group from the Knockcroghery area. Later, the world renowned Matt Molloy took to the stage. Sizeable crowds greatly enjoyed the varied music sessions. Well done to all the performers involved.




Easter Parades

The Easter Festival continued today. From the mid-morning live performance by Lady Betty through to an evening that sparkled with the smiles and laughter of children enjoying the amusements, this was a great, family-friendly day two. Highlight of course was the Easter Parade, featuring over 40 floats. The ‘Roscommon Ploughing Association’ entry was overall winner, followed by Coding Class (Ballinaheglish NS) as runners-up.

The Strokestown Easter Parade was also a big success, with some excellent floats entered, and large crowds attending. Well done to all volunteers involved with the respective organising committees.




I had to decline…

Speaking of the Roscommon Men’s Choir (Saturday), I recently received a furtive ‘invite’ to join up as a member…

It was a dark night, and not a cricket could be heard. A genial member of the choir (who shall remain nameless to protect their reputation) approached me. He nodded knowingly. I nodded unknowingly.

“Hey, want to join a men’s choir?” he whispered, lowering the hat on his head to avoid prying eyes. We both looked up and down the street. As it happens, there wasn’t a sinner to be seen (but then it was Lent).

When he suddenly reached for his pocket, I thought he was going to slip me a confidential copy of the choir’s 2024 playlist, but he was actually just lighting up a cigarette.

We looked at one another under the stars. I muttered about being honoured, while he calmly hummed what sounded like some Beach Boys’ classics. I said I’d get back to him. We drifted into the darkness.

Later, I replayed our meeting over and over in my head. But I knew it could never be. And I knew that I couldn’t tell him the awful truth. That I only sing if I’m on my own in the car, and that’s usually only when Minister Eamon Ryan is on the radio, and I want to drown the sound out.

*I may have taken some artistic license with some (or all) of above




Simon’s choices

Watch out for some version of this ‘clever’ quip being uttered by more than one member of the opposition next week… ‘All Simon Harris has done is rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic’.

Whatever ‘new’ Cabinet the incoming Taoiseach comes up with, it’s certain to be dismissed by the opposition. Amongst the wider public, there will be a significant degree of apathy, but many more people – not just political anoraks – are awaiting the reshuffle with interest.

Harris will hope to ‘freshen up’ and energise the Fine Gael wing of the Cabinet, and will certainly want to portray that image to the public ahead of this summer’s local and European elections.

There has been much speculation that Leo Varadkar’s successor will make minimal changes, but I will be surprised if he isn’t more radical than that.

His own imminent elevation to position of Taoiseach frees up the Higher Education portfolio. Simon Coveney’s resignation (which clearly indicates there are tensions between the two Simons, and that Harris was going to drop him) frees up another post. Josepha Madigan has stepped down as a Minister of State. So there are at least three vacancies. Harris may be brave enough to drop one more minister. At the very least, he has three promotions to make. I expect at least two of Peter Burke, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill and Neale Richmond to be promoted to senior minister status. Brendan Griffin and Patrick O’Donovan are also being mentioned.

Harris’ main scope for change, and for at least creating an impression of freshening things up, is in switching existing ministers to new portfolios.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee could well be moved to another ministry, with Heather Humphreys a contender for Justice. I will be very surprised if Harris switches the very smooth Public Expenditure Minister, Paschal Donohoe.

In the meantime, watch out for those not very original ‘deck chairs on the Titanic’ quips…