Friday, May 20, 2016

Update 20th May

A Tangled Web with ‘Politics as ... Unusual’

“Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive”
(by Sir Walter Scott not the Bard)

The early days of the Dail have been caught up in a real tangle as a number of contradictions and suggestions have emerged surrounding the recent O’Higgins report on the McCabe whistle-blower controversy. In the Dail it led to an early impressive contribution by Independent TD Claire Daly and a very lame response from the Minister for Justice and Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Of course embedded institutions have little or no empathy for ‘whistle-blowers’ and Sgt. McCabe has been through the ringer as a consequence of his stance over the years.
In the Dail the new arrangements whereby Fianna Fail acquiesce with the Government on a range of issues has seen them hobbled on this controversy. It is a clear example of how Fianna Fail may not really be fulfilling their role as ‘opposition’ which they claim, in their dual world. It is a tightrope and could, as was envisaged in the lead up to their ‘understanding’ with Fine Gael, concede the ‘opposition role’ to Sinn Fein and the more radical Independents with Fianna Fail’s relevance being side-lined. Fianna Fail could have a real identity crisis in all of this. 

Government Ministers

With the formation of every new Government it takes considerable time for one to get grips with who are the main players or prime ministers. (They also provide a regular source of quiz questions). Anyway I’ve done some excavating and this, for your convenience, is the result. Now it regularly puzzles me that an individual can be given such major responsibility without having any qualifications in an area and that they can almost immediately become authorities in their allocated field. I heard it suggested that in Canada a prospective minister has to have some expertise in his nominated ministry. Are politicians immediately endowed with the spirit and inspiration of a heavenly power that they can be so transformed? Personally if I was ever appointed to a ministry (!) I could eliminate most departments on the basis of ‘not a clue’.  Then you have the curious situation where Leo Varadkar a doctor and outgoing Minster for Health is redeployed to a totally different portfolio and Simon Harris, a terrier of a politician, takes over health and is out on the plinth the following day announcing ‘ten year plans’ . Was Shane Ross ever engaged in sport? Does Heather Humphreys speak gaeilge? The appointment of Mary Mitchell O’Connor as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation may revive images of her ‘innovation’ in driving down the steps of Leinster House as a young TD in 2011. Finian McGrath has a very broad ‘brief’ and has hit a number of fences in his first days. He will need to reduce the nicotine consumption and be a good boy on water charges. The picture of Finian beside Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald as she struggles with questions on the Garda Commissioner’s role in the McCabe controversy is a sight to behold. ‘For what doth it profit a man to gain…’  and all that.

Taoiseach and Minister of Defence: Enda Kenny
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality: Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Finance: Michael Noonan
Minister for Education and Skills: Richard Bruton

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government: Simon Coveney

Minister for Social Protection: Leo Varadkar

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade: Charles Flanagan

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform: Paschal Donohoe

Minister Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht: (A real mix there - the poor Arts) Heather Humphreys

Minister for Health

Simon Harris

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Michael Creed

Minister for Communications, Climate Change and Natural Resources

Denis Naughten

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

Shane Ross

Mary Mitchell O’Connor
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Katherine Zappone
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

Ministers of State
Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach  Regina Doherty.

Minister of State at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Defence with special responsibility for Defence
Paul Kehoe.
Minister of State at the Departments of Social Protection, Justice & Equality and Health with special responsibility for Disability Issues Finnian McGrath

(A new group of Junior Ministers has been announced this Thursday evening but I feel that you have enough homework with the above.)

The cost of Motor Insurance
I’ve mentioned this previously and of course I have only a basic layman’s or consumer’s knowledge of the machinations of the business. As all who seek car insurance know to their cost insurance premiums are rocketing. Apparently premiums have increased by 30% in the last year.
In listening to the Sean O’Rourke Radio programme with a representative of the Insurance industry a number the headline reasons for this issues were suggested as follows:
1.     Apparently €50 of each premium goes as a levy to pay for the collapse of an insurance company called  Setanta which was apparently registered in Malta. 
2.     The high level of awards in the courts. (In a different context altogether we saw a recent generous award to a lady who tripped on a Wicklow walkway.) Of course courts are a law unto themselves in these matters. There is little consistency in awards.
3.     Fraudulent claims are said to add €30 to our premiums. Even taking the €50 and that €30 they make up just a fraction of current quotes.
4.     Motor insurance companies claim a loss in the area of car insurance in recent years.
5.     Legal costs add significantly to the cost of claims. 
6.     Apparently the vast majority of claims are for ‘whiplash’ injuries.
7.     There is an ‘Injuries Board’ to try and avoid litigation but apparently 40% of these awards are rejected and then go to the courts.

The high costs of motor insurance mean that many more drivers do not take out insurance at all which is a real danger. There is a real issue here with policing this particular crime.

There were many and varied calls to the programme on the difficulties of people getting insurance and its spiralling costs. One group who find it really difficult  are young drivers and those seeking insurance for the first time. Motor insurance is just another one of the impossible financial challenges being heaped on young people/young couples in these years as they start laying the foundations for their own lives.

Refuse Charges and Changes

From July 1st a system of ‘pay by weight’ is being introduced by refuse companies by regulation. There seems to be a change emerging regarding the recycling element or bin. I imagine there would be a concern about people just dumping litter if the costs get too prohibitive. At the moment people pay by having particular refuse bags or bin tags/labels. Yellow tags for refuse and blue for recycling. In Boyle we have an excellent Council amenity for recycling which is open on Monday, Friday and Saturday with what might be called a nominal cost. It surprises me that people pay for recycling collection with this amenity in place. Apparently Ireland has developed a good record for recycling being around 34%.
It will be interesting to see what the costs of the ‘pay by weight’ will be. New tags are now being phased out which will potentially cause some issues of supply in the changeover through June. There are also rumours suggesting that the collection contractors have not the weighing technology in place.
I perform the humble task of ‘putting out the bins’ at the GAA’s Abbey Park and trying to develop a considered culture to the litter- in- bins aspect there, is problematic. 

(As a footnote while the vast majority of people in this area are very compliant with their attitude to ‘litter’ one comes across occasional examples of littering as I did during the week  on the road up to the Assylinn).  

Arigna Mining Experience

It is great to see that Arigna Mining Experience has been nominated at number 8 in the list of 10 recommended sites for visitors to Ireland. I have been to Arigna a number of times and brought friends there from time to time and I have suggested it often to visitors. It is a unique experience and a raw insight into the kind of slavery that the miners of that region had to endure in their work environment. All this is effectively on show in the museum. Also on a clear bright day the panoramic view from the site is just spectacular. So once more I recommend you consider visiting Arigna Mining Experience a jewel in the bracelet of varied and impressive sites we are lucky to have on our doorsteps.

Green Party Meeting

I saw a notice in the Roscommon Herald, page 12, for a meeting which is proposing to form a branch of the Green Party in the area. It takes place on  Saturday May 21st in The Bush Hotel at 12noon.  Also in the Roscommon Herald this week-on page 15- there is a short piece outlining the recruitment of significant numbers to the army. 

Dublin/Monaghan Bombings May 17, 1974.

One of the major outrages of ‘The Troubles’ were the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in May, 1974. The bombings were a series of co-ordinated terrorist attacks in Dublin and Monaghan. Three bombs exploded in Dublin during Friday evening rush hour and a fourth exploded in Monaghan almost ninety minutes later. 34 people were killed, 27 in Dublin, and 300 injured. Those regarded as responsible were the UVF but nobody has ever been brought to justice for the murders and the whole episode is shrouded in mystery. If you walk from Connolly Railway Station up a dingy Talbot Street there is a stone memorial there with the names of those murdered inscribed on it.
I knew someone who was working in Dublin and passed the location of the Talbot street bomb just minutes before it exploded on their way to Connolly Station. Then while on the train seeing shocked passengers arrive a little later. As the Sligo bound train called to the various stations on route there were many anxious people on the platforms, including Boyle, waiting and hoping to see family members arrive home safely.

Sports Review

Roscommon v Leitrim on Sunday in Carrick-on-Shannon.

After the shock of Roscommon’s near defeat in New York it is on to Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday next in search of rehabilitation. I heard it suggested that Roscommon has not lost in Carrick to Leitrim in decades. Correct me if I am wrong with that. The resilience of the Roscommon team and of the supporters is being tested again right now. Still fixtures against Leitrim and, if successful, against Sligo ‘should’ provide the launch pads for a Connacht final appearance. Of course that was part of the thought process last year and we remember what happened then. Roscommon are really having serious issues with injuries at this time. There seems to a be a plague of injuries widespread in clubs, counties and across sports. I presume the causative reasons for this are being investigated.
The optimism from the wins over Kerry, Cork and especially Donegal has been dampened especially by the New York escape. I have heard this question debated; Would Roscommon have a ‘back door’ into the championship if they had lost in New York?
Leitrim are said to be not the force they can be but they have regularly given Roscommon a real test. While we in Roscommon bemoan our prospects and disappointments one has to feel for the regular supporters of Leitrim and such counties who very rarely progress or can only dream but are still sustained by those dreams. I wonder will the Leicester achievement  be used as a motivational tool in these cases this summer. There was considerable satisfaction in Offaly after their first Leinster first round championship win in nine years on Sunday last. Those of us who were in Hyde Park for Leitrim’s second ever Connacht win in 1994 will remember their dream come through joy that day.
So Roscommon are expected to win on Sunday and all be watching the performance for a renewal of bright shoots.  

County U 16 Panel
I was disappointed to see that in a picture of 36 players on the county U 16 panel there was not one player from Boyle present.    

The passing of ‘Himself’
One of Ireland’s greatest sportsmen Christy O’Connor Snr. has passed away aged 91. While I have little contact with golf I was as a teenager very aware of ‘Himself’ when sport seemed to be much purer than it is today. Galway man Christy’s nephew Christy Jnr, another golfing hero, died just four months ago aged 67. The 10-times Ryder Cup player died at the weekend, aged 91.

In 2009, O'Connor Snr. became only the second Irishman to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, following the amateur Joe Carr two years earlier.

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