Thursday, October 6, 2016

Update 7th October

First Time Buyers (House)Grant

·        There is an expectation that in the Budget first time buyers will get a grant towards buying a home. Fair enough.
(There are suggestions that this will just increase the price of houses and will go, by and large, to the builders, so perhaps the Government should give it directly to the builders! I’ll park that and get to my annoyance.)

These grants are proposed to be for newly built houses only.  

To whom it concerns my question is; What about young people/couples who are also first time buyers but buy secondhand as opposed to new builds? Why the discrimination against them in this grant allocation?   

The authorities may think well of their proposal but the new builds are not there and will not be there for a considerable time. So will young people now postpone the prospect of getting on the property ladder until these ‘new builds’ come on the market at much higher prices than now?  In the meantime they will continue paying the exorbitant rents prevailing in the hope that the scheme will be beneficial in 2/3/4 years time. I’d be very sceptical about that. Another angle; There are a good few houses which were built say seven years ago and have not been finished or lived in. Do these qualify as ‘new builds?

Anyway my immediate question is as highlighted.   

Mayo Heartbreak Once Again

There is an odd sentiment expressed by the actor James Caan’s character in the 1974 film ‘The Gambler’  which is;
“I play in order to lose”
He needs to lose, to feel and enjoy the risk, to place himself in danger.
Perhaps it is the contradiction present that has made me remember that notion.
When one looks at Mayo’s record in the semi-final and final stages of All-Ireland football campaigns it smacks a bit of Caan’s character. They have ‘gifted’ the game to their opposition in so many different ways; sending offs (McHale v Meath), own goals, managerial mistakes, penalties etc.
In the finals they have lost in the last twenty seven years to; Cork ‘89/ Meath ‘96/ Kerry ‘97/ Kerry 2004/ Kerry ‘06/ Donegal ‘12/ Dublin ’13 and ‘16. In the semi-finals of ’14  they lost to Kerry in a replay and similarly to Dublin in ’15. So they have lost an incredible sequence of 8 finals. No county has lost so many finals at club (various grades) and county in the last 27 years and then the number of semi-finals. Perhaps there is a grain of consolation in that they have been so close, contenders at least.

Last Sunday’s game was a real battle as I felt it would be and there were heroic performances throughout the field for both sides. The displays of courage and commitment of the Mayo defenders such as Keegan, Boyle, Higgins, Durkin and McLoughlin were awesome. Though I predicted that Lee Keegan was in danger of being sent off I thought he would not go alone. I have looked at this incident a number of times with the benefit of the magic rewind button and from Keegan’s point of view it was a harsh decision by the referee with Connolly potentially being an influential cheerleader. Indeed in a particular period, before half time, the referee did Mayo no favours such as when McCarthy ploughed into Vaughan on 28 minutes and about three other questionable refereeing decisions that went in Dublin’s favour. 31 minutes Boyle fouled by Fenton (and others) yellow could have been ‘black’. 32 minutes O’Sullivan dumps O’Shea nil. Keegan off 34 minutes. 39 minutes Small a swing on O’Connor in a tangle on the ground which if interpreted as an attempt to strike was a red card offence.
While the decision of the Mayo management to change the goalie for this game has been given plenty of coverage the hurt to the individual should be considered in a set of circumstances that will become part of Mayo folklore and which will stay with him possibly for life. His initial kick was directed towards a Mayo player in space but took a curve towards the side-line which was contested by Harrison and I presume Andrews with a contested ball crossing towards the incoming Connolly. Keegan’s tangle with Connolly resulting in the Mayo star’s exit via Black Card.

All players make mistakes but it is the mistakes of goalkeepers which really stick in the minds. These are regular enough in soccer, Pakie Bonner v Holland in the U.S. World Cup ’94, Peter Bonetti substituting for Gordon Banks in Mexico v Germany in 1970 not having played a big game for two months, Joe Harte for England and Manchester City whenever.

Coming on as last man in goals for a replayed All-Ireland before over 80 thousand people in situ and millions watching has to be the most intimidating thing. The role of the goalkeeper has now expanded to precision-passing of a ball sometimes forty or fifty yards. The requisite run-up can be easily interpreted by opposition. A mistake though can be fatal. And so it was with the concession of the penalty.

In the player by player analysis on the Sunday Independent the total for the players were; Dublin 109 Mayo 108 but for the first three substitutes it was Dublin 22 Mayo 18. Again the Dublin bench proved decisive and the Mayo ‘House of Pain’ has another chapter.  

Road Safety Week October 3rd to 9th

T.V. ads. Tell it as it is

This year, Irish Road Safety Week (IRSW) will be taking place from Monday 3 October to Sunday October 9.

The two major issues which have traditionally been involved in road deaths are Speed and Drink. A significant third is now coming into the equation i.e. mobile phone distraction.
Down the years I have seen major television advertisement campaigns which have been direct and make the points very tellingly.
A current TV ad involves two cars coming in opposite directions one with a family and the second with a male driver who is engaged with his mobile phone. The result is a horrific crash.
A second involves a lady driver with a child in the back and she also is distracted by answering her mobile phone.
A third from some time ago involved a true story of a young man who had been in an accident and was giving an account of how it came about and of his clearly very constrained life changed due to one ‘silly mistake’. He says
“I made a stupid mistake that night. I had been drinking and then I drove. If you think drinking and driving is cool, just think of me. Never risk it.”

Apart from harming oneself the unforgivable consequence of ‘drink driving’ can be the devastation it can cause to other innocent road users.  

One different ad from a quite a while ago dealt with ‘accident blame’. Two cars have fairly slight crash. One of the drivers gets out and begins to take the blame being in the wrong but then senses that the driver of the other car has alcohol consumed and the whole story of blame is changed.

‘The Siege of Jadotville- The Congo 1961’

The most remarkable feature of the battle of Jadotville is that no Irish soldier was actually killed there. I attended the film this week and if this was a reasonably accurate account of the tumult of the battle it was incredible that the Irish Company of soldiers escaped with their lives. The commanding officer Quinlan is portrayed as a heroic figure with his soldiers performing with courage and ability. There are elements of the classic British film ‘Zulu’ in this film in terms of a small garrison holding out against the odds. In a sense it is an action picture with a very thin sketch as to how they were left in this isolated position. I have read reviews suggesting that Irishman Conor Cruise O’Brien, who was the United Nations civilian in charge, was treated unfairly in his portrayal in the film. His portrayal as a colonial figure, which he was not, being shown as his shoes are shone by a coloured youngster. The film required a ‘bad guy’ and Conor was nominated.
The Irish general Sean McKeown is given the name McEntee (Conor Cruise O’Brien was married to the distinguished Irish poet Maire McEntee and they adopted two coloured children) and though regarded highly then gets a poor showing in the film. It is interesting for us in this area as we know people such as Georgie Tiernan who actually participated in the action. It is available for viewing on Netflix.  

St. Brigid’s defeat Boyle
As feared by some, St. Brigid’s proved much too strong for Boyle in the county semi-final at Strokestown last Sunday. The physicality of St. Brigid’s as exemplified by Ian and Senan Kilbride in different sectors of the field were decisive. Boyle never got going in the first half and at half time St. Brigid’s led by 1.6 to 0.2. In the opening minutes of the second half a Senan Kilbride goal sealed the deal. It was only in the last ten minutes or so that Boyle, continuing to play with heart, managed to improve the look of the scoreboard with goals from Cian McKeon and Roch Hanmore. There were two stand-out players for Boyle they being Sean Purcell and the emerging young player Cian McKeon. So Boyle will start again next year, this time in the second division league but in Group One of the championship. While it is difficult to see where the necessary strength in depth will come from the three fine championship wins of the last month or so will be encouraging.    


·        I see that  Ireland's latest restaurant to be awarded a Michelin Star is, ‘Heron and Grey’ in Blackrock, Dublin. It can cater for just 18 customers at a sitting. It works from a tiny kitchen and I am reliably informed that it actually has no toilet! How that could be with all the rules and regulations as voiced by people in the restaurant industry is hard to believe.
·         In the constant coverage of the Donald Trump campaign in the United States one comes across sound ‘bites’ like; ‘His rallies are not like political rallies but like sports events’ and ‘Mister Trump does not have ‘supporters’ he has ‘fans’. Not too much wrong with that I imagine.
·         ’The Great British Bake Off’ has been a big story in the U.K. with characters like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. Apparently it is transferring to Channel 4 to the dismay of its huge fan base. While I have no interest in the programme it is the phenomena of a TV programme consuming the emotional attachment of so many that makes me take notice.
Karl Marx once said that ‘Religion is the opium of the masses/people’.
Recently I met a couple of young Americans and after talking of the U.S. election one of them commented that while the election is ‘hot’ at the moment it will not be long post-election that the people will leave it behind and return to the Kardashians! Apparently their reality television documented lives are ‘huge’ there, perhaps even greater than ‘The Great British Bake off’. I know that sections of people are kind of addicted to say ‘Coronation Street’, ‘East Enders’, Football, ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’(!), ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ (A programme has really made it when its name can be identified by its tag such as ‘Strictly’), ‘Operation Transformation’, ‘Reality This and That’,  and so on. Sad really. I watch too much television myself but a few of the above would make me hit the zapper hard and fast.
·    I notice on the front page of The Roscommon Herald that the humble Roscommon County Hospital has been elevated to the title of ‘Roscommon University Hospital’. Apparently it is part of the Saolta University Health Care Group. This includes the seven public hospitals in the West and North West.  
·          Ireland’s car Insurance costs four times the EU average according to radio commentary today. Pat Kenny returned last night to Irish television on TV3 with an outline of how expensive this country is and why it is so. Apparently ‘if you drill down’ into the causes ‘economy of scale’ is very important.
·        • What’s in a name? A good deal obviously, as in; ‘The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment’,  ‘The Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government’,     ‘The Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs’. I remember Ray Burke having a group of these departments. But then Ray was no ordinary……Ray.
·     • I heard a Garda representative claiming on a Sunday morning radio programme that ‘Garda cars were being held together with pieces of wire’. Is that legal? I remember baling twine being used decades ago for that purpose.   

I hope to return to philosophy next week.

Sin e

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