Would it happen in a minister’s constituency?






No surprise here at the dismaying ‘news’ that the fate of the Rosalie Unit in Castlerea has been sealed. We’ve seen it all before. Our local politicians, of all hues, have failed on this one. The Government of the day has let local people down. As ever, they hide behind the coat-tails of faceless people.

  The mantra of Junior Health Minister Jim Daly has become tiresome. Over the years, politicians have always been adept at hiding behind civil servants…in the case of health, they shamelessly hide behind the HSE or HIQA, or both. Daly excels at it.

  He is not the only one. If there’s a positive health story, the politicians are all over the place, smiling for the cameras and slapping themselves on the back. If it’s bad news, they tut-tut and say it’s all down to the civil servants. In the case of the Rosalie Unit, Minister Daly has bluntly said he has no intention of ‘going against clinicians’. He takes his advice, he says, not from local politicians, but from clinicians.

  So that’s it then. In Jim’s world, politicians who have responsibility for the Department of Health cannot intervene. It’s baloney. If the political will was there, Rosalie would remain open in its current guise. I somehow doubt that we would see a similar facility closing down in a minister’s constituency.


One to watch: Casey v Ming


He may be a divisive figure with controversial views, but I must say I found Peter Casey to be a very friendly interviewee on Monday.

  The Roscommon People was the only local media outlet to meet up with Mr. Casey, who spent Monday – the day on which nominations closed for the European elections – in Roscommon. He and his wife Helen stayed overnight in Gleeson’s in the county town.

  Initially seen as something of a joke candidate (and still derided by many), Casey clearly connected with a huge section of the electorate in last year’s Presidential election, securing 342,727 votes and finishing second to President Michael D. Higgins.

  One week after Marian Harkin’s departure boosted Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s re-election prospects, Casey’s entry into the European election race represents a real challenge to the Castlerea man (and others). 

   And there’s no love lost already between the controversial Casey and the sometimes controversial ‘Ming’. They met for the first time last week, when both were panellists on the Tonight Show with Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates. According to Casey, Ming initially ignored him in the ‘Green Room’ before the show began. Casey told the Roscommon People that during the break he had to ask Ming to stop shouting as it was giving him an earache! For his part, Ming says that Casey is “probably one of the least interesting candidates in the field”.

  After our interview on Monday, I believe Casey popped into a local pub, The Brewery, where he was greeted by surprised locals…who were not expecting the runner-up in the 2018 Presidential election to suddenly walk in and enliven their Monday evening!


Marching on together?


Of course the sporting comeback that makes what Mr. Woods has achieved look like a walk in the park…or fairway…is tentatively taking shape in Leeds.

  Ready (hopefully) to shake up the world are the mighty men of Leeds United, who might just possibly be about to return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 2004.

  There are numerous Leeds United fans in County Roscommon, some of them even willing to go public on it.

  Only recently, Seamus Comiskey put his head out the window as he was driving past me in Abbey Street, letting out a shout ‘We’re marching on together!’

  Yes, there are lots of Leeds fans in Co. Roscommon who are marching on together just now. You will probably find them hiding behind their sofas when Leeds are in action on Sky Sports, or maybe in their garden shed saying a prayer in front of a poster of the Don Revie team of the 1960s/’70s. All will be revealed in the next few weeks…(in other news, Liverpool are apparently facing off with Manchester City).


Tiger shakes up the world…


Oh, the magic of sport!

  Last Sunday, organisers brought forward the fourth round of the Masters Golf Tournament – because they feared storms were coming to Atlanta. In fact they got an earthquake.

  Just about everything Tiger Woods has done over the past decade or so could have been accompanied by that dramatic closing theme music on Eastenders. And that’s putting it mildly.

  It’s a crazy narrative. He was the superstar who fell into the gutter. He destroyed his marriage, his personal life unravelling in scandal in front of the entire world. Then came the golfing decline. Woods spent years’ battling severe back pain, plummeting to 1,199 in the world rankings. The Gods were vengeful. He even got the putting Yips. He was a pitiful sight on his arrest for reckless driving. A series of surgeries on his back seemed only to prolong the agony, Woods trapped in an increasingly hapless battle against physical and mental breakdown. A year or two ago, as he sought to scramble any hope of recovery from the wreckage of his career, it was unthinkable that Woods would ever be a force again.

  It was all so different in the beginning. He first shook up the world in 1997, winning his first major at the age of 21. He won 13 more majors in a 9-year spell. Then it all ended. Woods lost his auru on the course and his credibility off it, and was cast into a decade of humiliation, hurt, and justified shame.

  They said he couldn’t win again. They even said he couldn’t play again. Long ago, they even began to avert their gaze. Now he was pitied, the great Tiger dragged down by his own demons and fate.

  Then the miracle began to reveal itself…over the past 18 months or so. Tiger back, on the march again, but older and wiser and more mature now. By last weekend, we had begun to wonder if a sporting immortal might actually drag the glory days back through sheer will.

  ‘I shook up the world’. It’s Ali’s phrase. When Muhammad Ali (well, he was Cassius Clay at the time) sensationally defeated Sonny Liston in 1964, he stood on the ropes of the boxing ring and hollered aloud: ‘I shook up the world! I shook up the world!’  

  Ali defined more than one generation, perhaps he defined the entire 20th century. He transcended and partly shaped historic social change.

  Tiger Woods belongs to a different era, and will never be such a positive force as Ali was. So I am not making a direct comparison; Ali has an iconic status that Woods cannot match.

  Woods wasn’t a nice man in the past. He behaved shockingly in his private life. But this is arguably a story of epic redemption. It was very touching to see those emotional scenes on Sunday, moments after his triumph, as Woods embraced his children.

  Redemption or not, it’s certainly one of the most amazing sporting comebacks of all time. Tiger Woods has shook up the world.