We’re a nation unguarded – and that’s a national disgrace

The news that our country’s Defence Forces have admitted they are not ‘adequately prepared to meaningfully defend Ireland against an outside attack’ has frightened the you-know-what out of me! Why? Because it confirms to me, you, and every single person on this island (as well as the entire world, friend and foe) that “the fighting Irish” are so helpless, powerless and impotent when it comes to handling our own security issues that we must rely on others for our protection. How humiliating is that?

  I’m sure, given the recent ‘war games’ debacle, where we were intimidated by Russian warships who threatened to occupy our country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in a bid to carry out their ‘naval exercises’, that I’m not alone in my concerns.

  Indeed, when you add the scandalous ransomware attack levelled against our HSE, (allegedly carried out by a group of Russian hackers), leaving our healthcare system in total chaos, I think it’s time our Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney told us exactly how defenceless we are!

  I mean Simon, when it comes to facing threats from foreign aggressors (like the Russians), are we, the famously friendly neutral nation, totally and wholly incapable of defending ourselves? If so, is this in part due to our forces being deployed overseas on peace-keeping missions, effectively helping other nations to stay safe, while us poor sods are left vulnerable, exposed, and endangered, obliged to go cap in hand to the EU and NATO navies? Or worse – are we depending on a group of unarmed fishermen from Cork to defend us?

  Of course this embarrassing inability to protect and safeguard our nation is in no way the fault of the brave, heroic members of our Defence Forces, who are doing an amazing job. Thank you, each and every one of you! Nay, it’s the fault of this Government and of previous governments, all of which have historically underpaid and underinvested in our armed services.

  A report released to the media last year (alleged to have come from the Defence Forces themselves), revealed that ‘a total of 236 people left’ in the first five months of 2021, and among them were ‘63 recruits who quit during training’, meaning there’s clearly a mass exodus from our nation’s military.

  However, the opposite seems to be the case when it comes to equipping, preparing and staffing them regarding overseas taskings, with our leaders appearing to have no issue with splashing the cash in that direction…cash that could be spent on, well for example (given last week’s threat), a primary radar system.

  Why are the needs of Ireland being ignored when other countries are being catered for? Why aren’t we placing a value on those who put on a uniform and sign up to serve this nation, and just what part of desperately needing a credible military and a viable defence system does Simon Coveney and the rest of our overpaid, overrated leaders not understand?

  Doesn’t anyone in power realise that this chronic shortage of personnel and equipment, and the shocking and very public revelations regarding it, has placed our country and its people on critical life support?

  This is a national scandal, folks. If our Government cannot pay our Defence Forces a decent living wage and invest in Ireland’s future protection, then they shouldn’t be tasked with running this country.

Roll up, roll up…RTÉ takes viewing to a whole new lower level!

I’m someone who has extensive experience of working in live TV. In fact, the majority of my work, which was highly pressurised (but I loved it), centred around researching, developing, creating, casting and booking individuals for both the national broadcaster and for TV3 (now Virgin Media).

  I mention the above because I know how difficult it was in ‘normal’ times to come up with creative and competitive ways to keep the public interested and to maintain the viewing figures, and I can only imagine how hard it has been for programme makers during the pandemic.

  That being said, pandemic or no pandemic, there’s absolutely no excuse for RTÉ’s latest offering, which is (according to an article in the Irish Mirror) their plan to ‘launch a brand new Irish series to sort out rows and dramas between families and friends’. Why? Because it sounds lazy, it sounds grubby, and it’s definitely not a recipe for compelling TV – reality or otherwise!

  In fact, in my view, shows like this may only serve to attract those fame-seeking narcissists who thrived on placing themselves under sustained public scrutiny while sitting on the Jeremy Kyle Show sofa! Yep, you got it, the sleazy, the shady and the weirdo-wannabes, desperate to air their dirty laundry in public all for the sake of a ‘gratuity’.

  If the article is accurate (and why wouldn’t it be), the series is called ‘Hear Me Out’ and will feature contestants who’ve come forward in the hope of revealing, dealing with, and solving their ‘trivial arguments and family dramas’ live on air! Sounds like your typical Judge Judy meets Dr. Phil, meets every other nasty, trashy, take-a-snipe-at-the-working-class, common-or-garden, delinquent ‘poverty porn’ caricature a desperately, under-pressure TV researcher could possibly think up!

Wishing all Leaving Cert students the best of luck!

Despite calls to use the hybrid system, the Government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to disregard the majority of students’ wishes and revert back to written exams for this year’s Leaving Certificate!

  While I do understand that the Department of Education feels it’s impossible to adopt the accredited grades approach of last year due to a quarter of students not sitting their Junior Cert etc., I have to say that if I had a teen sitting their Leaving Cert, I’d be very concerned at this decision.

  This academic year has been far from being a typical one, with a high degree of absenteeism from both pupils and teachers alike due mostly to Covid-related issues, meaning each student’s situation now varies hugely. In addition, there are many students whose parents, for lots of reasons, won’t be able to afford grinds, meaning these kids will have to depend on teaching alone to get them through, leaving them at an unfair disadvantage. My heart goes out to them.

  I hope these students, who, come the next general election, will be at voting age, keep this betrayal in mind when Norma Foley, Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar, and Eamon Ryan and their parties are begging for their votes!

  As someone who panicked to the point of distraction over my Leaving Cert higher level Maths, I can say that not once at any time in my life did anyone ask me to recite Pythagoras theorem around the square on the hypotenuse being equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides of a triangle!

  That said, when I’m out on my walk, I promise to do the typical Irish Mammy thing and say a prayer and light a candle for you. Please take care. Please (and I know it’s difficult) don’t stress. The whole of Roscommon is behind you; you’ll all do amazing!