Something that has bothered me for a long time is Rent Allowance or, as it seems to be called nowadays, Rent Supplement. I was amazed to read in last week’s papers that in Dublin, families are being paid up to €1,400 a month to enable them to keep a roof over their heads.
Now I must say that I have no problem at all with the basic principle of helping out some struggling families, although in doing so we are encouraging already wealthy landlords to keep on increasing what are already inflated and outrageous rents, but what annoys me is that the Government seems to have abandoned homeowners, who for one reason or another, have fallen into mortgage arrears.
Take any two young couples, both on Social Welfare, one of whom has a mortgage, probably taken out when times were good and when both parties were working, and the other living in rented accommodation and permanently, through no fault of their own, always on the dole. The latter couple will get substantial state help to make sure they stay in their rented accommodation, while the mortgaged couple will get absolutely nothing to help them through any difficulty they may have with meeting their mortgage commitments.
A few years ago there was some type of a system in place where mortgage holders, even those in employment, could apply to the Department of Social Protection for help with the interest portion of their repayments, which was some help to the hard-pressed homeowners, but Enda Kenny and his then-Government got rid of that minor benefit in the Budget of 2014 and as of now there is absolutely no help available to them.
I don’t know how many people are getting Rent Allowance in this country, but for an awful lot of homeowners who are in difficulty with their mortgage suppliers, it has to be frustrating to see sums of up to €1,400 a month being paid to landlords, while the homeowner has to fend for his or her self. I would believe that in a lot of cases, much smaller monthly amounts would allow a lot of houses to stay in their proper ownership and families would be saved from either the threat of eviction or the actual eviction itself – and I wonder why there is no efforts being made to help those vulnerable people.
Thoughts on Connacht and our part in their rise…
It’s somewhere between 30 and 40 years ago that I had the honour of pulling on a Connacht rugby jersey for the first time, the Junior one, not the Senior one, (mind you the second one was my last time), when I lined out against Ulster in the Inter-provincial championship – and, if I have to be honest about it, I never thought until now that it was an honour at all.
Thanks be to God they didn’t have the modern body fit ones then that they do now, as I had to be peeled out of mine at the end of the game – like taking the skin off an orange – as my level of fitness left quite a bit to be desired and I was quite a bit out of shape. Nonetheless, in this, the greatest week ever in the history of Connacht rugby, I can say that I wore the green jersey of my province.
By the time I got the call-up, I was long past my prime and was almost in a zimmerframe, but at the time it was a tribute to the success of our Creggs team and so someone had to get the call. The two games that I was involved in, I also lined out (wouldn’t say played) against Leinster, and we were at the wrong end of the scoreline and were nearly an embarrassment to our province.
Fast-forward to last Saturday in Edinburgh and the same jersey was represented by a bunch of players who made us all proud to be Connacht men and women and, as I reflected on their amazing victory over Leinster, I peculiarly felt a tiny bit better about being one of probably only a couple of thousand players who put on a Connacht jersey over the last 30 or so years.
As well as that, I reflected on the huge contribution our little village club has made to Connacht rugby. Three members of Creggs Rugby Club, Dr. Joe Daly, the one and only Frankie P (Pettit) and last year, IFA man Adrian Leddy, have all reached the highest office of all, i.e. President of the Connacht branch, and all three played a major role in getting Connacht rugby to where it is today.
Aidan O’Halloran, father of star full-back, Tiernan, played for Creggs and of course we can justifiably claim Denis Buckley as one of our own and so it’s truly great to applaud the wonderful effort of John Muldoon, Pat Lam and their band of merrymen, but it’s even more satisfying to know that some members of our little club played a part, however small, in a story that today ranks with the unbelievable Premiership triumph of Leicester City.
What the future holds for these players, God only knows, as some of them are already on their way to new clubs, but whatever happens, the group of men that bought into Pat Lam’s philosophy over the last couple of years and who brought the ultimate glory to Connacht, will go down in history and many, many years from now, their names will still be revered in every corner of the province.
As for me, I’m off to the attic to see if the old Number 9 jersey that I wore, (and presumably stole), is still there, so if you see me in an ill-fitting old Connacht jersey you will know I found it!
Disco date with Mothers & Others…
Down the road in Oran, the lovely ladies involved in Gaelic for Mothers & Others are holding a fundraising 80’s Disco in Cuisle, Donamon on Friday night, the 3rd of June.
What a way to kick off the bank holiday weekend, rocking the night away to the old 80’s classics with DJ Cush. The ladies are looking for your support. To really get into the groove, you are invited (not just by me), to dig out your RARA skirts (what are they?), your leg warmers and shoulder pads, but if they have been binned in the meantime, don’t worry – you can turn up in anything you want.
The main thing is that you do turn up. There will be loads of spot prizes on the night and the whole thing is priced at only €10. Tickets are available from a whole load of local ladies, including Therese Kenny (087-7829164), Breda Monaghan (086-8833192) and Mary Quine (087-1301020), but if you can’t get in touch with them, there will be loads of tickets at the door on the night.
It’s all to get a set of jerseys for the girls and I’m told this Mothers & Others club is one of the great success stories of the recent past, so get to Cuisle on Friday the 3rd and not only will you have a great night’s craic but you will also help the girls to get themselves nicely togged out for the coming season.
Finally for this week, while it’s definitely not television weather, I happened by chance to see the Kilkenny school girls choir in the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ semi-final on Thursday evening last and I have to admit that their performance blew me away. I thought they were just fantastic and while I didn’t see any of the other acts, they must have been very good to outdo the Kilkenny schoolgirls.
Also on Sunday evening last, I had a visit from three generations of the Ward family, formerly of Leahive, but now all over the world, Michael, his 5-year old son Peadar and his uncle Jimmy, who has lived in Coventry for many, many years. Jimmy, who has never lost his grá for the mountain and Mount Mary area of Creggs, has recently celebrated his 80th birthday, so congratulations and well done Jimmy. Here’s to many more.